San Juan volleyball team starts 2020 with a clean slate
There was no shortage of drama and heartbreak at the conclusion of the 2019 San Juan High School volleyball season. One of the beautiful things about high school sports though, is natural turnover gives teams regular opportunities to have a fresh start.
That’s exactly what new Lady Bronco Head Volleyball Coach Marci Black is shooting for in 2020. She begins her coaching career at SJHS with a young, largely inexperienced team that lost five of eight varsity players to graduation in May.
Black says a lot of people might be overlooking the Lady Broncos due to that youth and inexperience, but, she explained, “I like to be the underdog.”
The first-year coach and her husband Taylor both grew up in Blanding. They spent 12 years in Spanish Fork before moving back to their hometown.
Marci Black is not new to coaching, although she spent some time away from it in recent years when she and Taylor began having children. She was the junior varsity coach at Springville High for two years.
This year at San Juan she will be joined by Jayleen Torgerson, who takes over the JV squad. Ally Anderson returns to coach the C team in 2020. Taylor Black is also providing a good deal of coaching help.
Though Marci Black says the coaching experience at San Juan High School has been good so far, it is definitely not as she envisioned. The outbreak of COVID-19 prevented in-person team workouts and brought numerous challenges in preparing for the 2020 season.
But Black is amazed that her players showed up all summer long once workouts resumed, knowing that the season could change at a moment’s notice or even be cancelled altogether.
“I’ve been really impressed with their dedication and willingness to learn and try new things,” she said. “That’s been really encouraging to me.”
Black said one of the coaches’ main responsibilities is to find the position on the court best suited for each individual player. “I’ve switched a few positions from last year,” she detailed, “and [the players have] been more than willing to get in and try.”
Quite a few sophomores and juniors will have to step up this season if the Lady Broncos expect to find success. In addition, the three returning varsity players are coming into their own as leaders and will need to play at a high level for San Juan.
“We’re going to rely heavily on middle blocker Jerika Torgerson,” said Black. Both she and fellow senior Sadie Brown are learning quickly how to step up.
According to Black, junior Bailey Brown “spent last year as the varsity setter, so she has a good solid year of setting at the varsity level under her belt. I think that’s going to be really valuable for us.”
Black says she has been trying to teach her players some things are controllable and some are not. She wants to focus on controllable things such as attitude, coachability, and effort.
“We have a lot of growing to do,” said Black. “But I’ve already seen a ton of growth.” She explained that coaches are emphasizing the mental aspect of the game. “I think the talent is coming. We definitely have so much potential,” Black stated.
The Lady Broncos must remain mentally strong throughout the season, challenging the likes of Region 12 opponents Richfield, Grand, South Sevier, and Carbon, teams which feature heavily on the schedule.
San Juan began the year strong with a 3-1 win over rival Monticello in Blanding on Thursday, August 20.
This week is full of games and miles. The Lady Broncos headed to Price on Tuesday, August 25 to begin region play against Carbon.
They travel to Kanab to take on the Lady Cowboys on Thursday, August 27. They close out the week at the Dixie Fly High Tournament in St. George Friday and Saturday.