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Prep volleyball: Lehi’s Rylin Roberts named 2015 Tribune MVP

First Published      Last Updated Dec 09 2015 04:30 pm

Rylin Roberts’ grit and determination carried the Pioneers to a state championship this year.

When Lehi senior Rylin Roberts and her fellow Pioneers hit the court for the Class 5A volleyball championship match last month, it would have been a good enough story just to beat the three-time defending champion Pleasant Grove Vikings.

But it was better still on account of what happened one year before.

That's when Roberts, the hard-hitting junior outside hitter for Lehi, went down in the 5A finals with an ankle injury. Visibly angry about having to come out of the game, Roberts wouldn't stay on the bench for long.

Although noticeably hindered by her injury, she limped back on, trying to will the Pioneers to victory.

It didn't happen that day.

But the grit and skills of Roberts and her cohorts finally did win out a year later, as the 2015 Salt Lake Tribune Volleyball MVP led Lehi to the state 5A crown.

"That sucked, yeah," Roberts said of the '14 title match loss. "It really hurt me afterwards to not know what could've happened if I were at a hundred percent. I was just grateful I had another year."

After Lehi won the first two sets against Pleasant Grove in this year's championship, the defending champs took one back. In that third set, Roberts — who would finish with 16 kills, three blocks and five service aces — could be seen exhorting her teammates,

"We didn't want to feel the way we did last year," Roberts said. "I worked really hard to be a leader. When we were down, I wanted them to know that I wasn't stressed out."

At 5-foot-9, Roberts wouldn't be generally thought of as short, but she correctly refers to herself as a "little guy" compared to most front-row players.

Despite her size disadvantage, Roberts has inordinate jumping ability and a powerful right arm that led to her recording 386 kills on the season.

She was also a threat to hit a kill shot from the back row, and had a terrific penchant from the right side — before running over to her normal position on the left — for blasting winners right down the line.

"I'm a little guy. I'm always the smallest hitter on the court, so I feel I have to be that much more competitive and work that much harder," Roberts said. "A lot of times I can't swing for the 10-foot line, so I have to use hands and look for holes in the block."

"She maximizes all of that 5-9, that's for sure," Lehi coach Jamie Ingersoll said. "Rylin knows she's always going to have a big block, so we've really tried to work with her on keeping that swing high, going off-hand.

"You're not always going to be able to go up and over every block," she added.

Ingersoll praised Roberts' defense, passing and serving as being top-level by the end of her senior season.

"I think, overall, her skills have risen to the level of her offense — which has always been what she's been best at," Ingersoll said.

Roberts is the oldest of Ryan and Angela Roberts' four children and she'll be taking her volleyball talent to Weber State University next fall.

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About Rylin Roberts

» Tallied 386 kills in 2015 from the front row despite standing “just” 5-foot-9.

» Led the Pioneers to the 5A state title, ending Pleasant Grove’s 3-year reign.

» Will play volleyball for Weber State.