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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Volleyball: Graduating seniors DeYoung and Cygan Reflect on their Careers

Chris Samuels
Senior middle blocker Brenna DeYong (17) reaches for a hit in the 2015 Utah Classic against the Idaho State Bengals in the Jon M. Huntsman Center, Friday, August 28, 2015.

As Utah plays its last games of the season, the seniors on the team will be playing their last career games as Utes.

After four years of hard work and determination, these players have reached the end of their run as a part of Utah’s volleyball program. The two players, Kendall Cygan and Brenna DeYoung, have contributed to the program immensely, and their names will be remembered even after they have graduated.

As the team wrapped up one of its last practices of the season, the seniors, Cygan in particular, were visibly emotional. They know how close the end is and that their time playing for the U is almost up.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Cygan said. “It’s nice knowing that my career here has been a success. It kind of makes it better leaving. I think the thing that I’m going to miss most is the sport. Just being on the court. Being on the court and with the girls, but I’m ready for my life ahead of me.”

DeYoung is just looking forward to what the future holds.

“I’m excited for what’s next,” DeYoung said. “I’m excited to have a life.”

DeYoung transferred to Utah her junior year from Snow College, and while her first season as a Ute wasn’t spectacular — she only played in nine matches — this season has been a different story.

DeYoung is the unquestioned starter and leader on the front line for the Utes. She has played in all 29 matches, starting all but one over that span. She is the strongest presence on Utah’s block, and Cygan knows how important she has been at that position.

“I want [DeYoung] to be remembered for her blocks,” Cygan said. “That’s what she is great at.”

She leads the team in blocks and has 29 more than the next person. Earlier in the season, she was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after recording 30 blocks in a week, helping Utah to a 3-1 record at the time. Although DeYoung has really only contributed for one year, it’s been a memorable one. She has made Utah fans yearn for a longer stint with her blocking prowess.

As she prepares to leave, DeYoung reflected on a lesson she has learned from her time with Utah volleyball.

“We always say, ‘Be better than the last play,’” DeYoung said. “I think that is a good thing to take in life. If you have a crappy day, just make the next one better.”

As she finishes up her playing career, DeYoung already has some of her future planned out, and fittingly enough, she won’t be abandoning the sport she loves.

“I’ve actually started coaching,” DeYoung said. “I’m coaching a club team this spring. I’m really excited to take the many years of playing years I have and pass it along.”

While DeYoung was a relative newcomer to Utah’s program this season, Cygan has been around for a long time. This is her fourth season as a Ute, and she has been a constant fixture in that time.

Cygan has played in 123 matches, starting in 70 of them. She has always played an integral role in head coach Beth Launiere’s gameplan and has always produced.

“The thing I always liked about Kendall is that she finds a way to win,” Launiere said. “She finds ways to succeed. She’s a very confident person. Even when she was young you could see that confidence. I always respected that about her.”

She has totaled 2,386 assists over her career as a Ute and is sixth all-time on Utah’s career assists list. Over her career she has become a leader on this team and has taken a lot of the younger players under her wing. She instills her work ethic and confidence in her teammates when she steps on the court. Her name will go down in Utah’s history, and her legacy will live on after her final season as a Ute ends.

“One thing I would say [that I learned] is that there is always another day and there is always another chance at doing something,” Cygan said. “I think that definitely taught me that through the ups and downs of my four years here, in good seasons and seasons where I struggle, there is always another day to get better than you were yesterday.”

Cygan is excited for her future and has a plan laid out as she gets ready to graduate.

“I really do hope to start a family,” Cygan said. “I’m going to pursue my masters in counseling. I hope to be successful in the next part of my life.”

Launiere has to deal with the loss of her seniors, and it is no less of an emotional experience for her.

“It’s always hard to lose seniors,” Launiere said. “You go through so much with them. I don’t know if people really understand the trenches you are in with them. All the years you go through with these players. I’m thankful for them and their commitment to the program. They are part of the history of this program. It’s never easy.”

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