Pleasant Grove • Heather Gneiting is as assertive as one might expect from the team leader of one of the best high school volleyball squads in Utah, someone who will carry on the tradition of her father by playing sports at BYU.

But there was a time, about 10 to 15 years ago, when the Tribune volleyballl Player of the Year was a shy girl who did her talking through an older sibling.

When she had something she wanted to say, that is.

“When she was younger, she was always real quiet, but she was also very close with her older sister Megan,” said Tom Gneiting, Heather’s father. “They were always almost like twins. When she [Heather] was real young, she would communicate through her sister.

“Whispered to her sister and her sister would talk for her.”

Heather Gneiting confirms the story — “I guess I was super-shy,” she said — but those days are long past.

Megan Gneiting now is a sophomore volleyball player at Weber State. Nicole Gneiting, another older sister, played volleyball at Utah State for a couple of years.

Heather, the tallest of the Gneiting sisters at 6 foot 4, grew up in Las Vegas before the family headed to Utah and the high school-aged girls, Megan and Heather, enrolled in Timpanogos before Heather finally ended up at Pleasant Grove.

Her father says it was extracurricular activities that helped his daughter find her voice.

“Show choir, cheerleading and volleyball brought out her more competitive side,” Tom Gneiting said.

But it was volleyball where she excelled.

Gneiting has been a stalwart for the Vikings’ tradition-laden program in her junior and senior years. But both seasons ended with five-set losses to Lone Peak in the state championship match.

And the formerly shy Gneiting doesn’t avoid talking about her feelings about those games, although maybe she wishes she could hide behind an older sister one more time.

“It is really frustrating. It’s kind of hard to hear still,” she said. “I feel like I’ve heard it a lot more than [winning] a first-place trophy with the relationships I have and other stuff. As a whole, I thought we did really good. We had lots of hard times, but we also had some really good times. I thought we had a really good season even though we lost.”

Although Gneiting obviously would have preferred walking off the court with a championship, she said that the lessons learned are valuable ones.

“I can do hard things and challenges will come. It’s just how you deal with them,” she said. “I really spent time with my teammates, and we helped each other through it.

“Talking it out, realizing those emotions are real and you can’t just say, ‘Whatever, it’s just a game.’ It’s much more than that.”

Gneiting will continue her playing career at BYU, the same place where he father was a role player on the Cougars basketball teams from 1984 through 1987. He averaged between six and nine points while adding between six and eight rebounds a game during his seasons with the Cougars. She’ll be joining a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 for the sixth consecutive time this season.

“I really like the atmosphere there and am super-excited to be a part of it,” she said.

PAST ALL-TRIBUNE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

2016 • Dani Barton, Brighton

2015 • Rylin Roberts, Lehi

2014 • Alexsa Parker, Snow Canyon

2013 • Brisa Winterton, Pleasant Grove