Childhood friends finish what they started at BYU volleyball

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Lifelong friends Robbie Sutton and Matt Underwood are in their last season of competitive volleyball after eight years of playing together.

Sutton and Underwood grew up within a block of each other in San Diego, California. They attended the same school and were in the same ward, but their volleyball experience together didn’t begin until Underwood convinced Sutton to play sophomore year of high school.

The two haven’t missed a season since.

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During the college recruiting process, Sutton and Underwood didn’t know if they would continue playing on the same team. Underwood committed to BYU a year before Sutton did.

“He came back from his official visit and was telling me about all the cool things (at BYU), but I hadn’t talked to BYU,” Sutton said. “When they finally talked to me and said I could come, I just followed him over here.”

Sutton and Underwood helped each other through the new college experience when they got to Provo.

“You had someone who was there all the time that you trust, that you’re close with,” Sutton said. “They could pick you up when you were down, you could pick them up when they were down. It just made it a lot easier.”

Both players adjusted to the college game and have contributed to the team during their three seasons together. Underwood said the experience together before coming to BYU gives them a special unity that can transfer to the court.

“After playing together for eight years straight, you kind of know what’s going on in each other’s minds, so you can read the game a lot better and have a connection,” Underwood said. “Having someone you grew up with, one of your best friends, just makes the game more fun.”

High school coach, Sunday school teacher and friend Rachael Dixon saw their progression through countless hours of coaching as well as observing them play in college.

“They are both mentally tough,” Dixon said. “They have this grit about their athletic ability. When they’re on the court I know they’re mentally there. I think that’s a great quality in any athlete at any level, but they have that x-factor that they can deliver when they need to. I’m really proud of them and what they’ve accomplished.”

Sutton and Underwood’s friendship extends far beyond the hardwood. The two were roommates, left on their missions a week apart and got married in the same summer.

“It’s a really inspiring story of true friendship,” Dixon said. “And they are both amazing men now. I think it’s awesome that they get to finish out their senior year together.”

Sutton and Underwood are grateful to have been able to play together.

“It’s one of the best experiences of our lives, without question,” Sutton said.

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