Coming off a much improved season, the Trapper volleyball team had four players named to the All-Region IX North team: libero Paige Weimer, setter Jacie Walker, middle blocker Sidney Parker and outside hitter Baylee Peterson.
In addition to being named All-Region, Parker and Peterson were named to the All-Region IX tournament team.
“These kids are putting in the work and it is nice that they are recognized by others now,” Trapper volleyball coach Scott Keister said. The team put together a 24-7 campaign this fall.
It was Weimer’s second straight season on the All-Region team.
“I was nervous this year because I felt like I had to live up to expectations after getting it last year,” Weimer said.
In the offseason, the sophomore put herself through a difficult program. Weimer left her home in Shelley, Idaho, and traveled three hours to Utah to train and play three to four times a week.
In Utah, she played with a club team along with one of the top liberos from Utah (who went to a Division I school) to help improve the small things in her game.
Along with her individual growth from her freshman to sophomore year, Weimer felt the team, primarily made up of sophomores, grew and learned to play together to improve from their near .500 record a year ago.
Weimer said liberos sometimes do not get the recognition they deserve unless it is a big dig. However, she knew her teammates appreciated her because one role cannot work without the others. Weimer said she was glad everybody got the recognition they deserved.
Weimer finished the year 29th in the NJCAA with 504 digs and was 38th in the nation with an average of 4.5 digs per set. She also finished with 36 service aces and 0.32 service aces a set.
Keister said that Weimer has been determining her future but anticipates an announcement on where she will play next in the coming weeks.
Coming into this season, Walker felt the team put in plenty of work in the offseason with the preparations that Keister had for them. Once they reached the season, they primarily focused on a mindset switch that played a huge role in the team making the jump from the prior year.
Through the Region IX tournament, Walker ranked 10th in the nation with 1023 assists, and finished seventh with 9.84 assists per set.
“That was one of my goals for this season was to be all-around better,” Walker said. “Putting an extra focus on assisting was what helped.”
However, Walker knows she could not have gotten all of those assists without the help from her teammates finishing with kills.
“Honestly, they are the only reason that I have those stats,” Walker said. “Their aggressiveness and willingness to work with me and telling me where they want it, how they want it and going and wailing on some balls really helps.”
Along with her assists being among the top in the nation, Walker finished 11th with 61 service aces and ninth with 0.59 service aces per set.
Walker said preparing for serving is not as intensive, as she relies on muscle memory to get the ball over the net. However, understanding the zones where Keister tells her to serve the ball — along with understanding who she is serving to — helped Walker be one of the top servers in the country.
She said the way Keister prepared the team this year allowed the players to give him the effort back he’d shown when they needed help in their own struggles.
Walker said she is going on a mission at the end of the fall semester as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Coming into her freshman year, Parker was unsure if she even wanted to play college volleyball, but she and Peterson were high school teammates, which allowed her the comfort to come to Powell and play for the Trappers.
“I was kind of scared going to Powell by myself and then she [Peterson] told me she was going back,” Parker recalled, “so it relieved me a lot.”
Parker knew she would have to earn her spot on the team — as the Trappers returned 10 sophomores and had only six freshmen on the roster — but she quickly worked her way into the rotation with her hitting and blocking.
Parker finished 67th in the country with 287 kills and 48th with 92 total blocks on the year.
One thing that stands out when Parker plays is the emotion she brings to the team with every point.
“Playing with no emotion is boring, it is just another game,” she said, “and with emotion it adds character to a game.”
After finishing her first season with the Trappers, Parker intends to return for her sophomore year as she will look to take a leading role.
The year did not start off the best for Peterson, as she dealt with an illness early on that kept her sidelined the first four weeks.
“I was kind of surprised I got the honors,” Peterson said.
After the illness, it still took her time to get to 100%, but she became one of the Trappers’ top hitters as the season progressed.
One thing that made it easy once she returned was that she understood her former teammate Parker’s playing style; the two became closer in Powell after viewing each other as competitors in high school back in Idaho.
With the rotations adjusting to help Peterson and Parker, and with Walker at the setting position, Peterson said it made things that much easier. She was able to finish with 193 kills in 24 matches.
As she and the other sophomores looked to improve from the prior season, Peterson praised Keister’s coaching.
“He has always been a really good coach,” Peterson said. “We all bought in and were all in the entire time this year.”
Despite this being classified as her sophomore year, Peterson has the option to return to the Trappers in 2022 due to COVID-19. She has not yet made a decision.