The Gazette Preps 5A-4A Volleyball Coach of the Year: Melissa Bravo, Discovery Canyon

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Before Melissa Bravo took over in 2011, the three-year-old Discovery Canyon volleyball team hadn't experienced a winning season.

But that all changed when Bravo introduced tradition and a winning mentality, leading to four straight regional appearances, the team’s first-ever trip to the state tournament, and The Gazette Preps 5A-4A Volleyball Coach of the Year honors.

“I think when you come into a young program that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of success, you have to build expectations,” Bravo said. “We definitely had some tremendous athletes come through this program, but that mental part of believing you can be successful was a huge piece.

Bravo led the Thunder to an upset win in the Region 7 championships for the program’s first state tournament bid, thanks in part to the young core of talent, and increasing expectations for the program.

“Since taking the program over, every year our goal is to get to state,” Bravo said. “But we also go into every season unsure of what’s going to pan out. But this group of girls went into practice and we just had so much depth.”

Discovery Canyon is also young, with just two seniors on the roster. And with so many returning varsity members, Bravo said the team will have bigger aspirations next year.

“Our returning varsity players all said we not want to win state,” Bravo said. “Instead of being happy by just making it to state, we have to set the bar high. That’s what we want and I think the more you say it the more they’ll believe it. And maybe one day when they walk into the gym and they don’t want to be there, they’ll remember that goal and practice harder for it.”