LEHI — In the first game in Lehi High School’s new gym, Pleasant Grove won a tough three-setter against the Pioneers in Kimberly Hawkey’s debut game as Vikings head coach.
Hawkey, who played volleyball at Pleasant Grove and BYU, moved back to Utah from Reno, Nevada, where she was coaching high school, and took the Vikings job after head coach Allyce Jones retired after Pleasant Grove won the 6A state title last season.
“This is a top program. There’s a lot of expectations, but these girls, the team, they all know how to win. They know what’s expected of them and they just play to win every single day. It’s there, it’s in their culture and in their blood to do that.” — Pleasant Grove coach Kimberly Hawkey
“This is a top program. There’s a lot of expectations, but these girls, the team, they all know how to win. They know what’s expected of them and they just play to win every single day. It’s there, it’s in their culture and in their blood to do that,” Hawkey said.
So far, so good for Hawkey — who took over the program in February — after winning her first match 3-0 (25-22, 29-27, 25-22).
“I think the girls are so awesome. Allyce has created such a great culture with them. They are just so trained and such good girls and I thought they were really inviting to me. Just excited to be playing again,” Hawkey said.
Pleasant Grove outside hitter Mia Peterson, who played a big part in the Vikings’ opening night win, likes Hawkey’s coaching style.
“She really positive, which I love, cause she’s super uplifting and that’s really good with confidence and especially when you have a hard team (in Lehi), because this was a good team and we definitely were expecting them to be good as well. It was awesome to have her positivity and uplifting us,” Peterson said.
It was the first game for both for both teams this year, after an offseason unlike any other due to COVID-19. After the UHSAA approved play, it was full speed ahead for the season, and both teams looked great in a hard-fought match with some great points from each team.
“Things are always changing with corona. But we were in the gym a lot over the summer as much as we can. Ever since the season has started, we’ve been going and practicing every day. It hasn’t stopped us yet, so I hope doesn’t,” Hawkey said.
After taking the first set 25-22, Pleasant Grove was victorious in a pivotal second set. Down 22-18 in the second set, the Vikings rallied to win 11 of the next 16 points and take a commanding 2-0 lead.
“We were able to just get in system passes and run our middle. Mia (Peterson) is amazing on the outside. She really just can put a ball away whenever it’s up in the air,” Hawkey said.
The Vikings sealed the game with a 25-22 third set to earn their first victory.
Peterson, setter Chloie Brinton and middle blocker Heather Hamson all had great games for Pleasant Grove.
“Mia is amazing. She is very talented. She jumps out of the gym and she’s just smart. I thought she did well. Chloie Brinton, our setter, she serves well, she’s smart. We had a lot of Heather Hamson up in the front row. She’s a huge block,” Hawkey said.
The Vikings earned the victory shorthanded, with two starters out.
“Some of the girls really stepped up that weren’t on varsity and I was just super proud of them. They had confidence on the floor, which I loved, because they’ve never played varsity before. I love that we just were able to come together and they were able to step up,” Peterson said.