Kenzie and Sienna Cumbie

Kenzie, left, and Sienna Cumbie are sisters and captains of the Youngker High volleyball team. (West Valley View photo by Eric Newman)

Youngker High volleyball coach Troy Sherman saw the potential in two young volleyball players nearly six years ago when sisters Kenzie and Sienna Cumbie, then ages 12 and 11, respectively, were attending his summer volleyball clinics.

As a learning experience, Sherman teamed the young girls with some of his better high school players. Neither was hesitant to show her progress as a player.

“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is at my clinics I don’t separate the younger girls from the older ones, and I kind of throw them right in the heat,” Sherman said. “Neither of them was afraid to step in and take the challenge, even at a young age. You don’t always see that.”

The girls have lived up to their potential. Kenzie is a senior and Sienna is a junior at Youngker, where they are both captains and entering their third year as an integral pair on the court for the Roughriders. Both put up major statistics for a team that secured a spot in the AIA 4A playoffs last season.

In 2017, Kenzie led 4A Southwest with 872 assists as a junior, also hitting a league-high 64 aces. As just a sophomore, Sienna produced 263 digs, just one off the 4A Southwest leader, and was voted the league’s defensive player of the year.

The two spend their off-season on the same club team, and regularly sit with their parents and younger sister to watch film at home, where volleyball often dominates discussion. They offer critiques and advice to one another and hope to improve together.

In the weight room and on the court, both girls said they eye each other, observing what the other is lifting. The girls spend so much time together that Sherman has had to intervene during small arguments. Neither takes losing particularly well either.

“We’re really competitive, so when we lose we just go home mad, and we don’t want to talk to anyone, especially to each other,” Sienna said.

“We can’t do anything else for a little bit.”

Ultimately, they agree having the other on the court has been important.

“It makes us better being together, because we’ve both been doing it for so long,” Kenzie said. “We want to go to college to play volleyball, so we look to each other to keep working.”

Their production has made for numerous successful Roughriders years. Sherman said he will be leaning on the pair for further wins and accolades this season.

“Kenzie ran our offense all year in the 5-1, and likely she’ll do that again this year,” he said, meaning she will be nearly solely responsible for sets to the other five hitters around the floor.

“And Sienna is so good at getting digs and making plays for everyone. They both are so crucial to this team, with their attitudes, too.

The girls may have had different roles previously, but their goals are the same. The Cumbies, in their last season of high school volleyball together, want to make the playoffs and advance past the first round, which has been an insurmountable hurdle the past several years.

“Every year I’ve been on the team we always get there and get knocked out, and even the two years before it they lost there, too. Our goal is to finally get over that, and if we can then possibly win state,” Kenzie said.

The sisters believe Youngker has the roster to do it.

Though the Roughriders will have to make up for the production of last year’s talented graduating seniors, such as 2017 kill-leader Skylar Reed, Sienna said the team is loaded again. It should have the ability and team chemistry to make another successful run.

“We lost a lot of defensive players, and a few good hitters. So, building that back up is going to be pretty hard,” she said. “The attitudes are better overall, and we’ve got some good new players that came in.

“The team is much closer than some years, though, and everyone has gotten along really well so far. I think we’ll be good again.”