PLEASANT GROVE — Finally, they find themselves on the same team.

Mendivil sisters Whitney and Danica have both been playing club volleyball for over three years, but they always found themselves on different teams because of their age difference. But finally, after years of waiting, they're both playing for the Pleasant Grove Vikings.

And they're both making a difference for the returning state champs. Elder sister Whitney, who is a senior for Pleasant Grove this year, was a starter on the state title squad that played in the vaunted Vikings-versus-Bengals semifinal match at the state tournament last season.

"That was a hard competitive game," Whitney said about that match against the Bengals that put her team into the championship match and is still fresh in her mind. "My heart was beating so fast. It was so intense, but we had the confidence. We knew we could win and we were all there to support each other."

But little sister Danica, now a freshman starter for the Vikings, was only in the eighth grade at the time and not eligible to play for the high school team.

"I wished I was involved. I just wanted to be out there so badly," said Danica, who sat in the stands and cheered her sister on to the title. But now she wants one of her own.

And though the Vikings are breaking in a new coach and lost seven solid seniors off of last year's title squad, they still have plenty of talent that could gel just in time to make another title run, this time for both sisters.

"At least now I get to go to the same place and see them play," said their mother, Jill, who added that the family has been planning vacations around the girls' volleyball trips for years now.

"We've seen a lot of different places, visited a lot of different sites," she said. Those sites include Slovenia and other European countries because of a club volleyball trip last summer.

The girls' parents each grew up participating in sports, their father in most every team sport imaginable and their mother in dance and track and field. And their dad puts them on a tight schedule athletically "that's helping us out a lot," said Danica.

Though both girls are dedicated to volleyball year-round, they also each continue to support the Vikings in track and field like their mother. Whitney takes to the track for conditioning purposes and Danica uses her volleyball skills in the hurdles, high jump and long jump because she enjoys the athleticism.

Their father introduced them to volleyball though they were avid basketball players. But it didn't take long for Whitney to change her stripes and turn to volleyball exclusively.

"I absolutely love to hit that huge monstrous kill. And I also love digging balls up that girls think they hit hard. That's a big thrill," said Whitney, who has verbally committed to play for Sacramento State next year.

"It makes it so much easier knowing where I'm going. Now I don't have to worry about who might be watching or scouting or anything else. I can just play," she added.

She fell in love with the Sacramento campus and team when she made her visit in June just as she fell in love with the sport seven years ago.

And through the years, she forced her sister Danica, who has a twin brother, Darrian, to practice with her constantly until Danica joined her on the volleyball bandwagon.

Now, those who've seen both girls play club ball, say that not only is Whitney a Division 1 talent, but her baby sis should easily find herself accepting a Division 1 volleyball scholarship as well in a few years.

Yes, Danica has an arm that rivals her sister's, and she loves the comraderie she feels on the volleyball court. She also loves to pound the ball down and dig it up.

"I absolutely love digging. I really love it when no one expects you to be able to get it," Danica noted.

But these sisters are more than just amazing athletes trying to help the Vikings continue in great volleyball tradition, they're top-notch students as well.

"They've always been super active and involved with what's going on, but we've always stressed school work too because that opens other doors," said Jill, who also noted just how organized her girls have to be to accomplish everything they must in a day.

These girls, who both stand over six feet in height, have all the energy and organization they need to excel on and off the volleyball court — the same volleyball court for a single year.


E-mail: jolsen@desnews.com