MORGAN -- Few high school teams can churn out college-level volleyball players like the Morgan Trojans. Year after year, coach Liz Wiscombe instills in her players a love of the sport and helps turn many of them into formidable athletes that attract the attention of college programs from across the country.
This year was no different, evidenced by two seniors recently signing on the dotted line to play volleyball at the next level.
On Dec. 17, setter and opposite side hitter Kristi Rhead signed with John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. A few days earlier, middle blocker McKenzie Schenk agreed to play at Utah Valley University.
"They're great players," Wiscombe said, "but more importantly, they're great people. This just goes to show you what great character they have and how hard they work in and out of the classroom. The neatest thing for me is to see them grow from freshman to seniors. You see their growth and see their dreams come to fruition. It makes coaching well worth it."
By signing with UVU, which went 18-15 in 2013 - its first season in the Western Athletic Conference, Schenk follows in the footsteps of Morgan graduates Bailey Farris and Chelsey Garfield Heaps, who also played for the Wolverines.
Farris played her freshman season at UVU before leaving for an LDS mission to the Dominican Republic last June. Heaps ended her Wolverine career in 2011 ranked fourth all-time in kills and was a first-team All-Great West Conference selectee as a senior.
"It helped (my decision) because I know their experiences were good," Schenk said. "They talked to me a lot about how the program works and I liked everything that I heard. I'm excited because (UVU) has a very good volleyball program."
Schenk always pictured herself on a basketball court, but under Wiscombe's tutelage, grew to love volleyball so much that she gave up competitive basketball altogether.
"I was going to be a basketball player," Schenk said. "But coming to Morgan, volleyball is what you do. I just fell in love with the game and these coaches are the most amazing coaches you could ever have. It absolutely changed what I'm going to do and where I'm going to go to school."
Meanwhile, Rhead has found herself with not just an opportunity to play ball at the next level, but with a scholarship valued at almost $200,000 at one of the most prestigious medical, science and engineering schools in the entire country.
"It's a really great school," Rhead said. "I went to visit this summer and I loved the girls there and I loved the environment. It's a winning team, so I'm excited about the volleyball program and I'm really excited about studying at such an amazing place. I'm excited for the challenge and for the adventure of it."
Rhead started her high school career at Christian Heritage, but the school shut its doors after her freshman season. She can hardly believe her good fortune that came from transferring to Morgan, including a state championship her sophomore year and a chance to now play with the Blue Jays, who are three-time Centennial Conference Tournament champions.
"I never, never imagined this," Rhead said. "I imagined graduating with my class of 12 people at Christian Heritage. I'm just so glad that the crazy events of the school closing led me to Coach Wiscombe and Morgan High."
Wiscombe hates to see players leave Morgan, but insists that her program is better having had players the caliber of Schenk and Rhead.
"It is hard to let them go, I'm not going to lie," Wiscombe said. "It pulls at your heart. But that's what you raise them for and you're just grateful for the short, brief period of time you had with them. Four years of battling with them and you get really attached."