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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Brighton volleyball ready for season despite setbacks due to COVID

Aug 17, 2020 02:56PM ● By Tavia Dutson

Brighton High School volleyball coach Josey Hilton leads her team to a 3-1 win over Skyline on Nov. 5, 2019. (Photo courtesy Christine Yee)

By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]

In her first year as head coach of Brighton High School girls volleyball, Josey Hilton has seen a lot.

The 2019-2020 school year started off with a bang as Hilton led her team in an incredible turnaround season. The team was able to advance to the quarterfinals of the 5A state tournament after getting shutout 3-0 in the first round just one year prior. Following this impressive rebound, Hilton could not wait to get planning for the 2020 fall season. 

When the Utah High School Athletics Association canceled spring sports in March, it left Hilton and many other coaches wondering what was next for their teams. Volleyball coaches across the state were faced with a responsibility to plan for a season that they weren’t certain would happen. Fortunately, Hilton did not let this discourage her. 

“We went into this acting as if the season would be normal and scheduled it as such,” Hilton said. “We tried to be as positive as we could and hopefully these games will happen.” After the July 10 ruling that UHSAA fall sports would still be taking place, it looks as if Hilton will get her wish.

Coaches were not the only ones affected by the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Many volleyball athletes supplement the fall high school season with a competitive club season in the spring. 

Hilton says that her girls are using that missed season as inspiration for the upcoming high school games. “The team is hungry, especially with COVID’s effects on their club seasons,” Hilton said.

The Bengals bring back a well-seasoned team with only two seniors graduating last year. The team is a strong contender for the Region 7 title, which it narrowly missed out on last year. 

Although expectations are high, Hilton is keeping her players calm as they head into tryouts Aug. 4. The Bengals are taking this season game by game and focusing on working hard, rather than statistics such as their win-loss record. Hilton has confidence the team could claim the Region 7 crown and hopes to advance even further in this year’s state tournament.

As of now, the team is enjoying summer training. With their gym currently under renovation, Hilton says the girls have been able to meet up to play on grass and sand. The Bengals will start their season on the road at Riverton Aug. 18 and will play their first match on their new home court Sept. 10 against Murray.