ST. GEORGE — Normally when you think of the best players in the region, regardless of the sport, they are upperclassmen, either juniors or seniors. That is not the case for this year’s volleyball.
Jenna Thorkelson has proven throughout the year that she has an incredible knack for controlling the game, and she did so on a Snow Canyon team that was named Region 9 co-champions.
With Hallie Remund and Sophie Robinson on the outside, and Katie Langford in the middle, there is a dilemma as the setter. Who to set? Who has the hot hand?
“It’s awesome,” Thorkelson said. “There’s not this big shot on our team, we are all right there. As a setter, it’s sometimes difficult to know who am I going to set, what’s the situation, but I’ve developed that skill a little bit. If I set anybody I know they’re going to put it away.”
Thorkelson does a great job varying who she sets the ball to. She moves the ball around the court, and in doing so, it opens up hitting lanes for other players. The defense might think she’ll set it to Langford because she has the hot hand, but she’ll instead go to Robinson who will have much more space to put the ball away.
The Warriors had a rough start to the season, earning all three of their region losses in their first five games. They looked defeated at times, but they kept working. The Warriors finished the season on a nine-game region win streak to win a share of the title.
“We had a rough start to our season with those first three away games, but we dusted ourselves off, got back up, and were like, ‘we’re not just going to give up here,'” Thorkelson said. “We’re peaking at the right time definitely, we’re ready to go. We’ve also had some really great practices over the last couple of days.”
Her coach, who is also her mom, was complimentary of her setter after a tough five-set loss to Crimson Cliffs earlier in the year.
“She always wants to be the best, but usually it’s just for her teammates – she doesn’t want any of the light on her ever,” Markay Thorkelson said. “She just wants to make sure that her teammates put the ball away.”
In her first year at the helm of the Warriors volleyball program, it’s been a little bit of a challenge for Markay Thorkelson, but she seems to have made a good impression on not only her daughter, but her teammates.
“I love it,” Thorkelson said about having her mom as a coach. “It’s hard sometimes but it’s been my entire life like that, so I’m pretty used to it. She’s an awesome coach and the girls all love her.”
While at home it’s mostly volleyball talk, Thorkelson makes sure to have her own time to take her mind off the game. She goes to school and hangs out with her friends, which creates a balance between athletics and everyday life.
In regards to school, Thorkelson enjoys science and her American Sign Language class. She bolsters a 4.0 GPA and also plays softball, where she started in a couple of games as a freshman pitcher last year.
Since she’s only a sophomore, Thorkelson is beginning to think about college but is still undecided on a focus or major.
Being only a sophomore, there are still two years left in Thorkelson’s high school career. While the Warriors are losing some of their main hitters next season, they are returning their leader in kills, Katie Langford, and their digs leader, Jael Wilde, who are both juniors.
“It’s great to think about because next year we’re going to be just as good, if not better, and this year we’re going to go give it our all at state,” Thorkelson said.
When it comes to being called the best setter in the region, Thorkelson thinks its “cool,” but she is quick to bring her team back into the conversation.
“It’s cool to think people know me but I just really enjoy the game,” Thorkelson said. “I love playing with my teammates, they’re all amazing. I’ve always enjoyed setting so I want to be the best obviously, but it’s just fun to play.”
The Warriors are looking forward to the state tournament on Tuesday. They’re clicking at the right time, and they’ll be taking on Cedar in the second round of the state tournament.
“We’re excited to go and play Cedar. We know we’re going to do good,” Thorkelson said.
The Warriors ended the year with a sweep against the Reds, and are going into the state tournament as the seventh seed.
“We might be a little underrated but we’re all psyched,” Thorkelson said. “I think we’re ready to go and play in this tournament. I’m excited to see what happens.”
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