Warriors advance with quarterfinal poise | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors advance with quarterfinal poise

Becky Regan

Becky Regan / Tahoe Daily Tribune Tori Jimenez slams the ball over the net as the girls defeated Battle Mountain in quarterfinals Friday at home. Jimenez led the team with three aces and also collected two kills.

Katie Besson flew sideways and somehow managed to fling one arm under the ball before she slammed into the floor.

Besson hit the ground hard, but the slam was worth it when the Warriors converted her efforts into a point.

It was the little moments, like Besson’s dig in Game 3, that kept the Warriors one step ahead of Battle Mountain all afternoon. From the seniors down to the juniors, the girls played solidly to sweep quarterfinals 3-0 at home Friday. The win propels them to semifinals on Saturday and leaves Whittell one win away from a trip to state.

“We had a lot of our underclassmen step up, like Tori (Jimenez) and Serena (Libert), and I was so proud of them,” Besson said. “I know I didn’t play my best game today, but the whole team stepped up.”

Besson’s self-proclaimed poor performance was pretty impressive from any other perspective. The senior defense specialist came up with seven digs, almost all of which were converted to points. Besson’s efforts edged the Warriors to a 25-18 win in Game 1.

“She’s her biggest critic. Some girls you have to push, but I never have to do that with Katie,” Warriors coach Nathan Byrne said. “She had three or four diving points on hard plays, and she just tore her meniscus.”

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On the other side of Besson’s scrappy digs was setter Colette Craig, who turned impossible passes into lofty points of beauty.

“Every set was beautiful. Some of our passes were way off but she just gets there,” Besson said. “Yeah she’s not the loudest on the court, but her presence speaks loud enough.”

Craig quietly pitched perfect kill material all afternoon. The senior has set to the same Warrior wrecking crew since sixth grade. When it looks like she is reading her teammates’ minds, she well could be.

“She’s the best setter I could ever imagine,” Emily Harris said. “She’s been setting me for as long as I’ve been playing volleyball so you don’t even have to tell her where to go and she just puts it there.”

Craig is not too shabby from the service line either. She opened the Warriors’ 25-13 Game 2 win with eight unanswered points. Craig also delivered a stunning ace to close Game 3 with a 25-9 win. Craig recorded three aces and turned 28 passes into hits.

“Everyone remembers the big swing or block, but they don’t remember how it got there,” Byrne said. “But, I’m OK with people underestimating her.”

Craig’s sets do not fall on inept hands.

Seniors Emily Harris and Amanda Harris play like they could collect points in their sleep. The twins fly to impossible heights and absolutely destroy the ball.

“They’re scary, especially when we run this play where you don’t know which one is hitting and they’re twins so it makes it 10 times worse,” Besson said. “One goes up and and you see the other one right behind her.”

Amanda Harris led the Warriors with 13 kills, and Emily was right behind her with 10. Equally impressive was their blocking and defensive front.

Between the Harris twins, Jiminez and Libert, it was near impossible for Battle Mountain to break through the Warriors’ wall Friday.

When Battle Mountain did make it through Besson was there to keep the backcourt clean.

The girls will play either No. 1 seeded Lovelock or No. 8 seeded Silver Stage in semifinals at Whittell High School tomorrow at 11:40 a.m.

“What’s really been helping us is just focusing on minimizing our errors and letting them make mistakes and beat themselves,” Amanda Harris said. “Tomorrow if our defense is top-notch, we should take it.”

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