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Vikings invade All-Valley

Jeppson and Pleasant Grove teammates headline '05 honorees

A powerful hit. A stuff block. A pancake dig. The perfect set. There are plenty of qualities that go into making a great volleyball team. Those qualities also make a great volleyball player.

This year's all-valley team is one of the most difficult ever selected because so many players in the valley possess those qualities in great abundance. But there are only so many awards to go around. And this year, these are the 12 players who went above and beyond for their teams, starting with this year's valley MVP.

MVP — Hailey Jeppson, Pleasant Grove, senior outside hitter: Jeppson signed with BYU before the season even began, and throughout the year she proved to everyone that she deserves the honor. Shouts from the Pleasant Grove crowd of "BYU, BYU" rang through the air every time Jeppson would stuff a big block or smack down a hit. Roars about the Cougars abounded as the year progressed. Jeppson always seemed to come up with the big play just when the Vikings needed it, and she did all the little things, too. Her powerful arm found all the holes and angles, no matter how small or sharp. She was also a great team leader for the state champs. This MVP lacked nothing as she stepped on the volleyball court, including a terrifying jump serve. But she wasn't alone.

Kortney Robinson, Pleasant Grove, senior outside hitter: Jeppson's teammates were right there by her side, including fellow outside hitter Robinson, who also specializes in demoralizing the opponents at just the appropriate time. Robinson came to life all year, starting with her own alarming jump serve, which stacked up Pleasant Grove points right and left. But she wasn't just a serving arm. She knew how to pound a spike over the net with the best of them.

Allyce Wilson, Pleasant Grove, senior setter: Wilson's teammates hit the ball with great power and accuracy, but the one that set them all up was tiny Wilson. She was so full of energy she could be counted on to get to almost any ball. The little dynamo could set the perfect ball at any time and knew exactly when and where to dump it over the net. She played all the way around despite her "vertical challenges" and was even known to throw down a block on occasion.

Christie Carpenter, Lone Peak, senior outside hitter/middle blocker: Carpenter was the most powerful and consistent arm of the year for the surprise Lone Peak Knights. Even though no one expected Lone Peak to return to the championship game, Carpenter's arm and her block helped push the Knights well beyond expectations. Though her team suffered through injury after injury, she stayed strong and steady all year long. The team counted on her leadership and consistency when other things fell apart around them, and she delivered.

Ashley Hamilton, Lone Peak, senior setter: But Carpenter wasn't the only "Mailman" on the Lone Peak squad. Teammate Ashley Hamilton also held it together all year for the injury-plagued team. Hamilton will be playing for the University of Arizona next season as the Wildcats took notice of the way she can take over a match with her uncanny ability to put the ball in exactly the right spot at the right time. But Hamilton brings with her something that most setters can't dream of — a consistent block.

Alyssa Merrell, Mountain View, senior outside hitter: Merrell's arm got stronger and stronger as the season went on. She grew in confidence and then threw fear into the hearts of her competitors. She led yet another team that suffered injuries but found its way into the state tournament in one of the toughest regions in the state. Merrell improved her game from 2004 and brought consistency and power to the table this season in addition to great leadership.

Cali Nelson, Timpanogos, junior middle blocker: The Timberwolves weren't supposed to make the playoffs. They had to fight their way through a tough region and past a tough American Fork squad in a playin game just to get to UVSC. No one from the valley expected these girls to be as successful as they were. And much of that success is owed to the block and spike of Nelson, who added confidence to her game as the season progressed.

Alisha King, American Fork, junior outside hitter: Though the Cavemen suffered from a plague on their passing through most of the season, King showed not only plenty of power in her game but proved to be the most consistent player on the court for American Fork. Her team underachieved according to many, but King was always a force to be reckoned with from any spot on the court. She could even pound the ball down with a timely backrow kill.

Christina Measom, Lehi, junior middle blocker: Perhaps the most powerful hitter in the valley, Measom also put up a tough block and knew just where to serve it for an ace. The Pioneers went on runs while Measom was in the front row and fell into tough rotations while she was off the court. Measom was perhaps the most valuable presence to any team in the state with her ability to completely take over a match. She led the young Pioneers to sixth place in state.

Danielle Taylor, Springville, senior outside hitter/middle blocker: Yet another player that could take over a game with her hitting and blocking, Taylor led the Red Devils to eighth place at the state tournament, ultimately losing to Lehi. Her consistency improved by leaps and bounds over 2004, and her leadership pushed her teammates to a second place finish in tough Region 7. Taylor also knew how to rack up several points in a row on a great serve.

Lori Wilson, Provo, junior outside hitter: Wilson led the Bulldogs to yet another successful season and a first place finish in Region 7. She could unleash several points in a row on her powerful jump serve and then take over from the net with her hits and blocks. But though those were the most noticeable parts of Wilson's game, the hitter also knew how to put up a perfect pass. She was one of the team leaders in defense and digs — not bad for such an offensive presence.

Carly Taylor, Orem, senior outside hitter: Orem's most consistent threat all season long might have been overshadowed in some cases by more noticeable teammates, but when the entire season is brought into focus, Taylor is the player that brought the Tigers through. A surprising fourth place finish in state came about because of Taylor's tough hustle and leadership. She hit the ball hard and in the right place at the right time. And her leadership united the orange and blue.


E-mail: jolsen@desnews.com