Prep volleyball: Granger's Havili quickly masters sport
West Valley City • Lile Havili has played volleyball on the high-school level for only a few months, and she's already the focal point of Granger High's attack.
The 6-foot-2 middle blocker mostly is playing for the experience as well as getting in shape for her real love, basketball.
But Lancers volleyball coach Amber Mills, herself in the first year in charge of a program that has not experienced much success, is happy for the help.
Granger has won two matches this season. Mills only is sorry she has Havili for just one year.
"I'm trying to train her the best I can in the three months I have," Mills said moments after Taylorsville handed Granger a three-set defeat last week. "Right now, we're trying to work on improving every game, and we're doing that. We're getting better every game. They are working very hard."
As per usual with Granger this season, the Lancers made Taylorsville work harder in the third and final set, evidence that the program is taking baby steps forward.
"I feel like we fight, and toward the end we really want it," Havili said. "With a new coach, it's hard to get used to all the new players and everything."
Havili believes Mills, who won several district volleyball championships at nearby Kennedy Junior High before taking over at Granger, is the right coach for the job.
"She has better teaching techniques. It clicks in our heads," Havili said.
Mills' teaching appears to have clicked with Havili. She averages nearly 20 kills a match.
In a typical match, Havili receives 90 percent of the sets in anticipation of her powerful right-handed spike.
"I like aggressive sports," Havili said. "I get my anger out."
Havili focuses that competitive anger during competition. The rest of the time, she works to improve her grades in preparation for school beyond Granger.
"She's always friendly," school principal Jerry Haslam said. "She's the type of girl you'd want to be your daughter."
Six siblings helped fuel the competitive fire for Havili, who is cousins with former USC fullback Stanley Havili. She believes basketball offers her brightest future.
Granger's girls basketball team finished 11-12, then won the Region 2 play-in game before losing the 5A first-round game to Riverton last season.
Havili averaged 10 points and seven rebounds in 2011 and has lofty goals for this season.
"We're going to state," she said.
In a way, Havili's commitment to basketball is another reason to play volleyball, a sport that will help with footwork, quick trigger muscles and defense.
"They're all similar," Havili said.
Once basketball season is completed, there is the matter of track. Granger coaches want Havili to compete in the long jump and high jump.
"It's my last year," she said. "I'm going all out."