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All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year: Maya Taylor, Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls High School’s Maya Taylor hammers down a spike during a game earlier this season.  Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com

Idaho Falls High School’s Maya Taylor hammers down a spike during a game earlier this season. Pat Sutphin / psutphin@postregister.com


To better understand Maya Taylor’s passion for volleyball, it’s necessary to go back a few years to backyard matches with her older sister, Marley.

Although three years younger, Maya was no less competitive. Marley didn’t take it easy on her, either, and it was an early indication of the athletes they would become.

“Marley being Marley, she would hit balls at Maya like she was the same age,” Idaho Falls High School head volleyball coach Wendy Johnson said. “Her mom warned her that one day, Maya would hit back at her.”

That day came and went, but a bond was forged through those intense contests. A bond the younger Taylor is reminded of every time she puts on her Idaho Falls uniform.

The sophomore outside hitter wears No. 8, the same number Marley wore for the Tigers and now wears for the University of Wyoming. A number they both wore for state championship teams.

“I completely look up to her in everything she does,” Taylor said. “She just pushed me so hard and made me so much better. I fell in love with it and wanted to do it for myself.”

Taylor’s firepower that originated in her backyard has turned heads across the area and the state.
She has played nearly every minute of every match since making her varsity debut last year, compiling 431 kills (team best), 334 digs, 58 blocks, 49 aces and 13 assists for the 33-9 Tigers this season.

Two years into her high school career, Taylor is a go-to athlete, a state champion and the 2014 Post Register Volleyball Player of the Year.

Although her team does not play Idaho Falls, North Fremont coach LeAnna Trosen watched Taylor during the 5A state tournament at Skyline High School. Like many other coaches, she came away stunned that Taylor was a sophomore.

“Oh my gosh, she just hits the ball so hard,” Trosen said. “I think she has a great selection of shots. She’s an outstanding blocker as well.”

Johnson, whose daughters, Kaitlyn and Kiarra, grew up playing volleyball with Marley and Maya, said she first noticed Taylor’s potential during her seventh grade club season with the Idaho Falls Juniors. A year later, Maya Taylor played on Johnson’s U-18 IFJ team.

Johnson said she has never coached someone who played at such a high level so young.

“She’s one of those prodigies that just comes through and gets it,” Johnson said. “She’s got the height, she’s got the jumping, she’s got the volleyball IQ.”

Taylor’s ability to take over matches has set her apart. Moments after getting a block, she could hammer a kill that could be heard from the upper level seats. The higher the stakes, the more likely Taylor would deliver.

“She wants to be, for lack of a better phrase, the Michael Jordan of the game who wants the ball for the last-second shot,” Johnson said. “When the matches are tight and you need that hard-driven kill that is that shattering kaboom off the floor, you need someone like Maya who puts everything she has behind it.”

Taylor’s personality also caught the attention of coaches this season. As fiercely competitive as she is, her laughs during warm ups and emphatic celebrations after a point have become trademarks.

“I just love watching that,” Trosen said. “She seems like she really has fun playing.”

Those emotions are all genuine. Taylor said she rarely battles nerves because she knows her teammates support her.

“I think we probably had the best family element in our team this year,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is or who got the kill. We’re all trying to reach the same goal and do it all together.”

Taylor’s team-first mentality is what Johnson likes most about her.

“That is phenomenal and says a lot about who this girl is,” Johnson said. “She ironically enough is a humble kid.”

Possibly the only things bigger than Taylor’s game are her dreams. A 4.0 student, she aspires to play college volleyball, enter the medical field and become a professional volleyball player or represent the U.S. at the Olympics.

“I don’t know if it’s gonna happen, but it has been a dream for quite a while,” Taylor said. “It would be amazing to just achieve that and have all my hard work pay off. I’ve been kind of taking it in steps. With every step I’m getting to, I’m realizing I can do these things.”

Having seen Taylor literally grow up into the person and athlete she is, Johnson has no doubt that more big things are in store for the girl who got her start with a backyard net.

“I expect everything to keep going up and up for this child,” Johnson said.

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