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Volleyball served up to Mormon wards and stakes in S.L. area

Beth Launiere's conference-champion University of Utah volleyball team may present an intimidating picture on the Crimson Court floor.The players are, after all, mostly tall, physically imposing women who can set, serve and spike with power, but they're also more than happy to share their love for the game with newbies.__IMAGE1__And, every year now, Mormon newbies come to learn more about the game, usually about 400 at a time to a free clinic."We have a few less this year because of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication," said Brian Tingey, the volleyball specialist on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Utah Salt Lake Area Sports Committee. "A lot of the Young Women are involved in those meetings."The annual clinic event is designed specifically to help newly called church sports directors, officials and players to understand more about the game."The clinic is set up to let girls see what they can become," Lori Zundel said. Zundel is the assistant director over women's sports programs for the Salt Lake Valley for the church.The church is re-emphasizing sports in general, she said, trying to draw back kids who've moved away from social and physical activities."Volleyball is a game for all ages, all levels together," she said. "In every ward you can have a minimum of five teams, Young Women, Young Men, men's, women's and coed. Volleyball can be played at ward nights, elder's quorum parties, mother-daughter, father-son activities. It's a great way to get out and get exercise."__IMAGE2__Tingey said there's even money set aside by the church for adapting a meetinghouse cultural hall to volleyball. A specially contracted company will put in the floor support fittings for the net poles at no cost to the ward or stake, he said."Just call physical facilities," Zundel said. "Then we'll provide the training. Church leaders want these gyms to be full and used."Tingey said one of the most valuable parts of the training involves educating officials on how to properly call a game.Confidence in the officials is the key to attracting players and creating enjoyable game and tournaments, he said.__IMAGE3__Games today are much more dynamic than volleyball games of the past, he said. "It's more of a rally sport."Yet it can be adapted to any number of players and any age.Senior citizens play with balloons from their wheelchairs.Young Men and Young Women can play with a beach ball on the sand.Men and women can play each other.Launiere said a few tips can make the game more fun and safe.She recommends knee pads for every player and pregame warmups for the arms and legs so they are ready for quick action.Working with the clinic participants, she and her players take care to make sure every set of arms is in the proper platform position and making "straight and simple" motions as they hit the volleyball."Wrists and hands are palms up. Hands are together nice and tight," she said. "We don't want lots of extra motion."Once the ball is in play, it's totally teamwork, she said."Volleyball is such a great sport. It's such a team sport. You have to learn how to be a great team player. There are so many great lessons to be learned playing the game," she said.


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