Nearly 3,000 miles away from the place she grew up, Hawaii native and starting sophomore setter for the University of Utah women’s volleyball team, Bailey Choy, has made Utah her second home.
“I really love it here,” Choy said. “When I came here for my visit, I felt the culture and the people here are really similar [to Hawaii]. They are really welcoming and they will smile at you and say ‘hi’.”
Choy earned the starting nod in 2016, and she helped the Utes double their win total from the year prior. She has since helped Utah get off to a 17-4 overall record, nearly halfway through the 2017 season. Utah head coach Beth Launiere attributes her team’s rebound from 2015 to “growing pains.”
“We were really young in 2015,” Launiere said. “Last year we finally had a little more experience.”
Launiere emphasized the impact that Choy has had on the team’s success.
“She has certainly been a key player for us for the last two years,” Launiere said. “Now she is becoming one of the more experienced ones even as a sophomore since she has been playing since day one.”
When asked if she was the reason for the turnaround the program underwent, Choy humbly declined. Instead she attributes it to the teams’ versatility.
Currently ranked second in the Pac-12 Conference and No. 10 in the nation, the Utes are continuing to make a name for themselves. Coming off road victories to then ranked No. 9 Washington, the conference preseason favorite, as well as Arizona, something the Utes had never done in program history before, Choy has her team in the hunt for a conference championship and primed for a deep run in the NCAA tournament come December.
A business major off the court, Choy fittingly is all business on the court with her mature and stoic demeanor.
“I think mature is a good word for her,” Launiere said. “She knows the game well, and I think she has pretty good command and understanding of what has to happen.”
Choy’s level of maturity has been built up over the years by her coaches, and she believes it’s because they trained her to have the right mentality.
“As a setter you need to be the most cerebral and the most composed,” Choy said. “In tough situations you just got to think on the spot and you got to be calm about it.”
Growing up in a family of volleyball players, it’s evident to see where Choy gets her passion for the game. Her father, Barney Choy, coached her growing up. Despite him being “very old school” and constantly pushing her to improve her game, he wasn’t the only coach Choy had during her young volleyball career that wanted to see her succeed.
Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, a former setter for USA’s Olympic team and current head coach at the University of Hawaii, coached Choy during her club career. She’s someone that Choy calls her “auntie,” though not related by blood, as well as her sports hero.
“She’s so knowledgeable. She can tell you where the hitter is going to hit before the play and where the setter is going to set before the play,” Choy said.
With influences like her dad and Ah Mow showing her the ropes and sending encouragement her way, Choy has been able to compete at a high level of play while helping the Utes see positive results.