By Doug Johnston
I’ve had the opportunity to interview Morgan High School Volleyball Coach, Liz Wiscombe many times before, so as I sat down on Wednesday to interview her about the volleyball team’s recent win of the 3A state championship, it seemed like old times. With Coach Wiscombe was one of her assistant coaches, Julia Fisher, who has also been with the team for a long time and whom I have also had the privilege of interviewing before. I’m always impressed by the accomplishments of Morgan High’s volleyball program and it is due mostly in part to the efforts of Coach Wiscombe and her coaching staff.
However, Coach Wiscombe doesn’t see it that way. When I try to talk about how many state championships this makes for her, she begins to blush and changes the subject, “This is not about me, it is about the girls.”
While I want to give the young women their props as well, I think even they will tell you that it is their coach that gives them the motivation to always perform to the best of their ability on and off the court. Wiscombe apparently takes her own advice. Even though each year there are changes in the lineup of girls on her roster, the coach consistently performs to the best of her own ability.
Before heading up the team in Morgan, Wiscombe won five Volleyball State Championships at Delta High School and also coached their basketball team to a state championship. In 1987, she came to Morgan High School and has been a mainstay for the past 23 years. At Morgan High School she has led 11 teams to state volleyball titles. This amazing record alone gives evidence to her being one of the best high school volleyball coaches in the state of Utah.
Coach Wiscombe is successful because she knows that games come down to each individual player playing to the best of her ability, including working well with her teammates. It upsets her when the focus shifts off the players and onto her as the coach. So, before she gets too upset by my focus on only her, let’s turn to the amazing athletes who she coaches.
Last season, Morgan High’s volleyball team went right to the finish line in the championship game and fell just short of their goal by losing to North Sanpete. Of this loss, Coach Wiscombe said, “We had a bad taste in our mouth from last year and we were not going to be denied [in 2010].” As she predicted, the team crossed the finish line in first place to finally achieve the goal for which they had worked so long and hard.
When Morgan traveled to the Utah State Volleyball Tournament at Utah Valley University last Friday, they only had two losses for the season. The team picture above, taken by photographer Gary Weitzeil captures the team’s determination. The players went into the championship prepared and ready to do business…and business they did.
They not only won their first match in three games against Juab, but they beat them soundly by the scores of 25-8, 25-11 and 25-7. Next up, Morgan fought against Delta, the same team which Wiscombe had led to five championships. Morgan’s coach with the “Midas touch” led the team to defeat Delta in four games with scores of 21-25, 25-17, 25-21, and 25-20.
History almost repeated itself as the teams were being narrowed to the final two teams standing. Hurricane played the 2009 championship team of North Sanpete to which Morgan had fallen. However, Hurricane beat North Sanpete 25-22, 13-25, 23-25, 25-21, and 16-14. North Sanpete would not take the championship from them again in 2010.
Morgan defeated Hurricane 25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 25-15, and this win landed Morgan in the championship game against Juan Diego. Juan Diego had beaten the teams from Cedar, Richfield and Desert Hills to make it to the championship game against Morgan.
Morgan won the first game 25-13. The second game Morgan won 25-14, and finished off Juan Diego with a 25-17 to win the state championship. Their determination was shown once and for all to win it all… Three up… Three down…
When I interviewed Wiscombe four days after the win, I asked her how it was feeling now. She simply smiled with the cool confidence and well-earned success. She said, “It was a great journey.” Then, of course, she turned it back to her players by getting in the final words for which she has become known…“We have amazing girls.”
When I asked Coach Fisher, who is the JV coach, to tell me something about Wiscombe she said, “Liz is phenomenal and is an amazing motivator. She loves the kids of Morgan, loves Morgan High and loves Morgan.” Rounding out Wiscombe’s winning coaching staff areVicki Walker, sophomore coach, and Stephanie Stuart as the freshman coach. The staff is clearly a winning team in their own right.
Seniors of MHS Volleyball Team 2010: Brittney Visage, Taylor Weitzeil, Hannah McDermott, Ashley Garfield and Missy Wimer. Juniors: Bailey Farris, Megan Stapley, Jaesee Dye, and Ashlee Gallen. Sophomores: Katie Peterson, Aspen Thomson, and Cassidee Lish. Three freshmen were taken to the state tournament and all three got playing time. They are Shaylie Duncan, McKenzie Schenk and Rashel Blazzard.
Managers of Team: “Swish” Wiscombe and Rinon Robison.
Record End of 2010 Season: 30-2.
As a final testament to what an amazing group of women we are talking about here… On the team’s way back from their California tournament earlier this fall, an Air Force General who is the superior officer with direct command over the General assigned over all of Hill Air Force Base happened to be on the same flight to Utah. Over the course of the flight, the General was so impressed with this group of lady athletes that he took the time to tell one of the coaches how impressed and amazed he was by the polite and kind young women. He could see the player’s connection as a team…If he could have also witnessed their talents on the court as well!