Valley’s boys volleyball team is coming off the best season in school history, but it’s not done yet.
After winning its first Northeast League championship and advancing to the Sunrise Region semifinals last season, the Vikings are looking to take their program one step further.
With 10 seniors returning, including first-team all-state selection Jack Heavey, it’s not foolish to think that could happen.
“We’re going to be a tough team to beat this year,” Valley coach Matt Porter said. “I think we’re a much better team this year than last year.”
Porter, last season’s Northeast League Coach of the Year, led Valley to a 10-0 league record while dethroning division rival Las Vegas High, which had won the previous eight titles.
In the process, the Vikings dropped only two matches — to Coronado, then to Foothill in the Sunrise Region semifinals, which ended its season. Coronado defeated Foothill for the state championship.
Last season was certainly a step in the right direction for the Vikings, who have made the playoffs in each of the past five seasons but have never advanced past the region semifinals.
“We basically had a breakout year last year,” Porter said. “We accomplished a lot of things, and that experience is going to be tremendously beneficial. They’ll have that maturity and the intangibles that go with it. Our volleyball IQ has gone up tremendously. There are things we could do now on a more advanced level, and we have so much depth at every position.”
Valley’s push to take its program to new heights could mean going through Coronado, which has won the past two state titles and has appeared in the past five state tournaments.
With the Cougars losing 11 seniors, there seems to be an opportunity for other teams to join the mix. Valley, which lost just two players, is one of them.
“The thing that makes us special is we have a lot of players,” Porter said. “We just have an overall talent. You can focus on (Heavey), but that’s going to open it up for our other players.
“I definitely think we’ll have a sense of urgency this year. We have one guy that’s played four years on varsity. A lot of these kids play club volleyball. There’s not a whole lot that they haven’t seen.”
Heavey, a 6-foot-4-inch opposite hitter, will be joined by outside hitter Matt Ballaro and libero David Delaney, who each earned second-team All-Sunrise honors last season.
Valley opens the season Tuesday at Centennial before heading to California to play in the La Jolla Invitational. Porter said the out-of-state competition will prepare the Vikings for what they hope is a long season.
“We’re just hoping to continue what we started last year,” he said. “Rather than say we’ve got to win state or zone, we just want to get better every day.”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430.