Volleyball: Freshman Choy is the key to victory

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After an unfortunate 10-21 season, the Utah volleyball team was determined to improve in the offseason, and they have, thanks in large part to freshman Bailey Choy, last year’s Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year in Hawaii.

Choy, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, was ranked as the No. 1 volleyball recruit coming out of the Aloha state last season after leading the ‘Iolani High School Raiders (17-3) to the state final in 2015. Choy’s impact on the Raiders’ success is clear according to her senior year performance, in which Choy collected 574 assists, 197 digs and 15 service aces.

“It’s hard for setters to come in here as freshman and run a team, [but] she’s got a really high level of volleyball IQ,” said head coach Beth Launiere. “The team trusts her already, early on, which is impressive. It’s like a freshman quarterback, it’s not easy, and she’s come in and has enough confidence in herself to step out onto the court with a more experience team.”

Choy has been impressive for the Utes as a starter to begin the season, totaling 37 assists this past Saturday morning against Gonzaga, and then 43 assists in the team’s victory over the Butler Bulldogs.

Choy had other options as far as a college destination and she shared why she decided to come to Utah.

“Definitely being a part of the Pac-12, because it’s a competitive environment and it’s awesome to have such great competition in every match,” Choy said. “When I first came to visit the campus, it was extremely warming and it felt like home. I didn’t feel so far away from Hawaii, and basically everything is far from Hawaii because we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”

Choy went on to explain that Utah’s academics played a large part in her decision and she is thrilled to be at the U.

“My goal is to make everyone better around me,” Choy said. “I’ve got to do a better job of putting people in good situations, the hitters are the number one priority, and I have to be able set them up. Passing is key, we stress upon passing so much, and I wouldn’t be able to set any of the balls without the passing, and for the hitters to be able to terminate it, it’s an awesome feeling because it’s like we are one whole unit working together.”

Despite Choy’s blatant humility, there is a sense of confidence in herself that is clearly displayed by her ability to facilitate the offense this early into the season with her new teammates.

Utah will rely on Choy’s setting ability to create kills for the Utes’ offense during their upcoming three-game tournament at the Missouri Invitational in Columbia, Missouri. The Utes faced both Rice and Missouri on Friday night, ending against Illinois State on Saturday afternoon.

“I am so excited for the first road trip, I can’t believe it’s already here,” Choy said. “Everything is happening so fast — high school and college is so different. You’re making a new family up here, and it’s so great to be around [the team]. It’s a very exciting process.”

@ArmenMShrikian

a.shrikian@dailyutahchronicle.com

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