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Not Your Average Bees
Two-time defending 5A volleyball champion Bonneville is in 4A prior this season. That is a scary thought for opponents.
Published: 10/2/2018 2:54:29 PM

Bonneville volleyball stars Makayla Sorensen, Sade Williams, Alexis McMurtrey and Sadie Lott spend so much time together that they fight like siblings. 

In the moment it’s fierce, but when the dust settles and tensions cool off, their friendship becomes closer and the team becomes better. 

“We spend a lot of time together, so sometimes you get kind of sick of each other,” Sorensen said. “Sometimes you need to take a break or sometimes in those really close matches, we can get snappy at each other.” 

During a popular ball control drill known as 2 vs. 2, a drill that’s set up much like a beach volleyball game where the goal is to bump, set and pass the ball to the other team while keeping the ball in bounds, the four would often engage in a heated rhetoric over where those boundary lines were located. 

“We stopped doing that drill when we got to high school because we got in so many fights about it just because we are all so competitive and we argue so much,” McMurtrey, a junior said. “We don’t play that game anymore.” 

The girls have been playing together since upper elementary school when they found themselves on the same club volleyball team. 

Sorensen and McMurtrey met in third grade where they both attended a Bonneville volleyball youth camp and developed an instant friendship that still holds true today. 

Lott was originally living in the Skyline boundaries, but moved to the Bonneville boundaries when she was in fifth grade. Shortly after, Williams moved to Idaho Falls in what marked the prelude to continued success within the Bonneville volleyball program, one that has seen nine state titles across two classifications since 1991 among three coaches: Alane Pierce (1991), David Albiston (1996, 1998, 2001, 2004)  and Chantal McMurtrey (2007, 2009, 2016, 2017). 

In 2015, Williams’ freshman season, Bonneville fell to cross-town rival Idaho Falls in the 4A state title match. 

Once Sorensen, Lott and McMurtrey joined the hive the following season as freshmen themselves, the Bees were crowned champions in the 5A classification the next two years, beating Boise 3-0 in 2016 and Lake City 3-1 in 2017. 

As Sorensen, Lott and McMurtrey continue to embark on their junior year and Williams wraps up her high school career as a senior, the Killer Bees are seeking a fourth consecutive appearance in a state title match.  

“It started when we first started playing with each other,” Sorensen said. “Every game you play, every practice you play, you trust each other more and you figure out how each other plays on the court.” 

This trust first began to develop on the court and evolved into lifelong friendships outside of volleyball that the girls say they will hold long after high school, even if one of the quartet is leaving early. 

“It is going to be really emotional, especially Senior Night,” Williams said. “I’m going to be a mess, but playing my last high school volleyball game with these three is going to be fun, but emotional.”  

Most of this emotion stems from the countless trips to every corner of the country that the girls have taken while playing club volleyball. 

“We’re pushed a lot more out of our comfort zone,” Lott said. “When you go to Vegas or Utah, the level of intensity rises… it has helped through high school.” 

Last summer the club volleyball season took their team to Detroit for nationals, with the four also having made trips to Spokane, Denver, Orlando, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Dallas, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas previously.

“We get to spend a lot of time together on these trips,” McMurtrey said. “We develop bonds deeper than just at practice. You get to communicate, but not as much on the off time. It helps the friendships develop.” 

Unlike basketball or football, there isn’t one player that can carry a team in volleyball and it’s up to the six players on the court to carry out this communication in pursuit of a victory. It takes a team to get the ball over the net and the same player cannot touch the ball twice in a row, meaning communication is everything. 

The girls say they have been playing together so long that they have developed non-verbal communication skills in a communication-heavy sport. 

“It’s almost like you know what all four of us are thinking at the same time and where we are going to be,” McMurtrey said. “It’s a big court.” 

Add in a strong supporting cast and things are looking good again this year for Bonneville. 

“It can’t be just us four,” Sorensen added. “There’s six kids on the floor.” 
So far Bonneville has rolled through most of its schedule, including tournaments in Utah and Las Vegas, which should help prepare them for another deep run in the 4A tournament to be held at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian Oct. 26 and 27.


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