TWIN FALLS — In her senior season, Sierra Starley’s volleyball maturation had less to do with athletic ability and performance, and everything to do with what was going on between her own ears.
Starley has been as eye-catching a talent as there’s been since a freshman. She was the Times-News player of the year as a junior. Now a two-time honoree, the difference came in how she handled being a leader.
“I can’t explain how competitive I am. I used to get so upset when things weren’t going the way I wanted to, or if I made a mistake or if someone else made a mistake,” Starley said. “This year I really worked on how I handled that. Every time, it was like, ‘It’s OK. It’s one point.’”
That composure rubbed off on her teammates and, along with her fellow seniors, it raised the play of the entire team.
So much so, in fact, that although the Bruins had their state trophy finish streak snapped at three, they felt this was a better, more cohesive team than they had in recent years.
“It was great to see the team play so well. We played really well against Century (at the state tournament, when they were eliminated), and it just didn’t go our way,” Starley said. “But we played like a top-four team in the state.”
During another unbeaten run through the Great Basin Conference and to the state tournament, Starley had 488 kills (4.5 per set) and 425 digs (3.9 per set), hitting for a solid .280 efficiency.
Starley leaves Twin Falls High as complete a player as has come through the ranks in some time, and possibly ever. She’ll take that game to Utah Valley University, where she is enrolling for the spring semester to get a running start at her collegiate career.
“She came in here as a freshman and she wouldn’t jump, but she had a long arm and … she ended up on the top court every year (in preseason drills),” said Twin Falls coach B.J. Price. “You have to earn it, and she proved it. … There’s nothing more we can do to grow her as a player. We’ve done everything we can, and now it’s time to wish her well and see how she does in college.”