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Murray Journal

Murray boys volleyball expects big things in first season

Apr 05, 2024 11:02AM ● By Josh McFadden

Year one of the Murray boys volleyball program is off to a good start. The Spartans have both talent and experience on the team. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Chapman)

High school boys volleyball has begun its maiden voyage as a sanctioned sport, and the reception from players, coaches, students and fans has been resoundingly positive. 

The Utah High School Activities Association made boys volleyball an official sport this season. At Murray High School, head coach Ryan Chapman and his players are thrilled to compete on a bigger stage for the chance to win a championship. 

“It is amazing to play in front of hundreds of fans,” he said. “Loud gyms and school spirit make a huge difference. Expect boys volleyball to grow rapidly.”

More than 40 boys turned out for tryouts for the team. With those numbers competing for 22 spots on the varsity and sub-varsity teams, Chapman and his staff decided to have a practice team, allowing more interested boys to contribute to the new Spartans’ program. The interest in Murray boys volleyball has left Chapman feeling optimistic about the program’s future.

“Expect Murray to have a top program for the next few years solely based off of the current group of boys on the team,” he said. 

Murray competes in Class 4A’s Region 10 in boys volleyball. In region play, the team will face Cottonwood, Jordan, Park City, Tooele, Stansbury and Hillcrest, facing each foe twice. In the early going, the Spartans began the season by winning four of their first six matches and was 3-2 in region play after five contests. Murray began with consecutive wins in region action over Stansbury, Tooele and Hillcrest before falling at Park City and at home to Jordan, both by close 3-2 scores. 

Chapman isn’t shying away from setting lofty goals.

“Our expectation is to compete for the region championship and make a run in the state tournament in May,” he said. “Our seniors have to lead the group. Everything in volleyball starts with the pass, so we need great passing. We need consistent serving over the net with pressure and placement. We will need to forget mistakes and missed points and move onto the next play.”

The Spartans enjoy good depth. Chapman believes he has about 20 players capable of playing at the varsity level and contributing. Murray boasts strong hitters and has two excellent passers on the back row in Alex Cushing and Jim Jenson. Chapman is also pleased to see boys getting along well on and off the court.  

“The boys are united and have fun together outside of the gym, so our strength is connection,” he said.

As the season progresses, Chapman wants to see his players improve the timing of their hitting, which would help them better direct the ball. Communication is critical on the court in volleyball, and this is an area the Spartans can improve, Chapman said. 

Along with Cushing, a junior libero, and Jenson, Chapman highlighted a couple of other outstanding Spartans. He loves the play of senior outside hitter Leif Larson and senior middle blocker Jonah Hardman. 

“[Larson] can hit from both pin locations and has a quality top-spin serve,” Chapman said. “[Hardman’s] speed and agility come in handy to close the block, and he is good at finding spots in the defense where the ball needs to go. [Cushing’s] passing is super, and his serve is consistent.”

Murray plays each region foe twice, ending with a home match with Park City on April 25. The state tournament comes next. 

“This team is such a fun group,” Chapman said. “They are constantly laughing, and everyone feels a part of the group. They absolutely love volleyball.” λ