Pleasant Grove • Some things are exactly as they appear when it comes to Pleasant Grove volleyball player Heather Gneiting.
As befitting a senior in high school, her favorite movies are wildly popular series like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
And at 6 foot 4, Gneiting fits the bill of someone very tall who — not coincidentally — plays a sport where someone of her stature can excel.
But there’s so much more to Gneiting.
Yes, she’s tall. And height alone might have propelled Gneiting to a certain level of success.
But those around the Vikings middle hitter say Gneiting’s athleticism is beyond what’s normally expected for someone of her size.
“She’s quick and she’s the kind of athlete that has natural instincts,” Pleasant Grove coach Allyce Jones said. “She’s a stud.”
“I think Heather is one of the most impressive middles in all the years I have coached,” said Skyridge coach Deanna Meyer, who previously coached at Lone Peak. “She’s big. She can move and can jump. She’s got it all. Her improvement from last year to this year is incredible.”
School • Pleasant Grove
Year • Senior
Position • Middle hitter
College choice • BYU
Accolades • Recorded 213 kills as a junior. … Earned all-Tribune honors in 2016. … Finished second in the high jump at the Class 5A state track meet. … Plans to graduate from Pleasant Grove High in December. … Named to USA Today’s all-USA preseason volleyball third team, the lone player from Utah to be honored.
Gneiting will play volleyball at BYU and plans to get a jumpstart on it by graduating from high school in December.
“I want to get a head start on training with the coaches,” she said. “With club, I’ve already had that experience. Instead of that, I’d rather work with the colleges.”
“I think she’s going to go in and be one of their top bigs,” Jones said. “Everyone’s good at BYU, and it’s going to be a challenge for her. But I know she’s going to walk in and make some noise.”
Before that happens, Gneiting and her Pleasant Grove teammates will have another good shot at a state championship that just has eluded the Vikings the last two years. Lehi edged Pleasant Grove in the 2015 title game, while Lone Peak outlasted the Vikings in five to win the Class 5A crown last season.
Gneiting had 213 kills in 2016 although she played most of the season at outside hitter because an abundance of tall middles not as versatile as Gneiting dotted the Pleasant Grove roster.
“I learned volleyball in that position, and I learned to love it,” said Gneiting, who would prefer to remain in the middle hitter spot.
Gneiting actually did not play on the varsity for the Vikings in 2015. She wasn’t allowed to play her sophomore year after transferring from Timpanogos.
But it’s not like Gneiting, who has lived in Lindon the whole time, didn’t have other athletic outlets as options. She tried the high jump last spring.
Gneiting finished second at the Class 5A state track meet in the event by clearing 5-3. That means that Gneiting theoretically could leap over her own coach — if the circumstance presented itself.
“Yes, she can,” Jones said. “I’m 5-2, so Heather can jump over me.”
“Probably not right now,” Gneiting said. “That was a few months ago.”
It’s hard not to notice when Gneiting walks onto the court.
Once Gneiting shares some of her preferences in humor, it gets much trickier to tell whether she’s joking around or not. While Harry Potter might have his hold on her, Gneiting lists “The Office” as her favorite television show.
“We’ve talked about it in practice,” Jones said about the show that ended before she started high school. “That’s Heather’s personality — sarcastic and hilarious.”
But that’s a little beneath the surface. What most see is an affable competitor, even when she’s swatting a kill at an opponent.
“My players are in awe of her,” Salem Hills coach Kathy Treanor said. “She’s always happy out on the court. She’s a fantastic player and such a sweet girl.”