Wasatch Wasp boys hope first volleyball title leads to official sanction of sport
The Wasatch High School boys volleyball team picked up the school's first state championship last weekend – boys or girls.
After a 12-0 regular season, the Wasps got a first-round bye in the state tournament. They beat Real Salt Lake Academy in Heber City Thursday, then Layton Christian Academy in Layton Friday to advance to the championship game. The Wasps took home the hardware after a 3-1 victory over Maeser Prep Academy in Layton Saturday.
“This is extra sweet,” Head Coach Duke Mossman said. “I’ve been working with [the players] since fifth grade, and it was pretty cool to win that and to win it for our fans. We got to ride the fire truck at 10 o’clock at night in 35-degree weather after we got back to town. Especially for the boys, I’m just proud of their efforts. We set the goal at the beginning of the season. To go undefeated was cool, and then to win the state tournament was the cherry on top.”
During the regular season, the team only lost one set in all 12 matches. Against Maeser in the final, Wasatch dropped the first set 21-25.
After rallying back to a 2-1 set lead, needing only one more to win, the final set was “a battle.” Every point counted, including a miraculous save by senior Easton Wade.
Senior inside blocker Corbin Hicken helped seal the win, serving consecutive points to win the final set 25 to 23. He credits his teammates for the dominant season.
“I’ve never worked with some guys who have been so dedicated to it,” Hicken said. “Everyone put a lot of effort in outside of practices, and it’s just so good to see our work finally show some results, and we’re all just so proud of ourselves and happy with each other.”
Hicken led the championship game with 11 kills, followed closely by co-captain Don Mossman’s 10 kills. Hicken also led servers, tallying three aces on 19 attempts with 94% serving accuracy.
Stat leaders on the season were all seniors, including Don Mossman with 102 kills, Roberto Villanueva with 65 aces, Wade with 152 digs, Hicken with 29 blocks and Villanueva with 229 assists.
It was Wasatch’s first time playing a fall season with the Utah School Sports Association. The USSA is an independent athletic league comprised of public, charter, private and other schools in the state.
The Wasps have played in spring with the Utah Boys Volleyball Association ever since Mossman formed the boys team in 1993. He stopped coaching for a little over 10 years before starting again to coach his son eight years ago.
While it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the country, boys volleyball isn’t sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association. Colorado was the most recent to adopt it as an official high school sport, and Mossman hopes Utah will follow suit in the next few years.
“I’ve been working with the Utah Boys Volleyball Association pretty closely in trying to get boys volleyball officially sanctioned, and last year the board of trustees voted on it and were two votes short. This year, we’re making another push. We’ve got over 100 teams playing statewide in the spring representing over 50 schools. We’re way over the emerging sports criteria, and we’ve been on their emerging sports list for the last two years. This year, we’re crossing our fingers that this’ll be the year,” the coach said.
With Wasatch Superintendent Paul Sweat joining the board this year, Mossman hopes to keep riding the momentum of this year’s success to achieve that goal. A decision this year would impact the spring season two years ahead.
As for the spring season beginning in March, Mossman’s looking to repeat with a UBVA championship. With a squad of 10 seniors and a junior, he says the team has experience and confidence on its side, coming off the team’s first state title.
In the meantime, the team is staying loose and improving by playing in exhibition tournaments. Those include club teams with competitive players from all over the state on their rosters.