Warriors’ senior Andrew ruled out of state tournament | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors’ senior Andrew ruled out of state tournament

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Winning a seventh consecutive Nevada state title is the biggest test the Whittell High School volleyball dynasty has ever faced.

A seventh championship seemed almost a lock a week ago when the Warriors were primed to spend the minimum six games on the court in order to win their seventh straight Nevada 2A League regional championship in Zephyr Cove.

But one awkward landing on a kill attempt changed the course of Whittell’s volleyball season. Northern 2A League most valuable player Lauren Andrew went down with a season-ending knee injury while delivering her final smashing point against the Incline Highlanders, and Lovelock went on to dethrone the six-time defending champs.

Andrew, a Warriors’ four-year varsity player, has been ruled out of the four-team state tournament that begins today in Las Vegas after a MRI on Monday revealed that Andrew has a torn ACL in her left knee, as well as meniscus damage.

“We may be bruised and battered, but let me tell you, we are not done,” said Whittell coach Tony Fathergill. “It’s been a rough road, but we’re refreshed and re-energized to have the opportunity to go to the final four at state.

“We’ve have adapted and have a couple different lineups. I think we have a pretty strong one going into this.”

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As it turns out, the Warriors may have received a break based on what transpired in the Southern 2A Regional Tournament. Lincoln County, which finished behind The Meadows in the regular-season standings, pulled out a five-game marathon over the Mustangs in the finals.

Hence, the Warriors (21-9) will meet Lincoln County (26-5) in a 2 p.m. semifinal at Silverado High School. Lovelock, which rallied from a two-game deficit to beat the Warriors for the Northern 2A title, will play The Meadows (19-5) in the opening semifinal at 12:20 p.m.

“It’s always kind of a guessing game. Based on what these teams had last year, they didn’t lose a lot of seniors,” said Fathergill, whose team took a flight to Las Vegas on Thursday. “If we play Warriors’ volleyball like we can and bring the intensity and energy like we can, there is no one who can rival us.”

The winners will play off for the state title at noon Saturday.

Without Andrew, the Warriors will be missing one of their best setters and outside hitters. Fathergill still strongly believes after the loss to Lovelock that his Warriors can add another title to their collection. He was disappointed that his team didn’t put away Lovelock in the third game of the regional title match and was displeased that the Warriors were passive on a lot of their attacks.

“Losing a player like Lauren, everybody has to step up and fill in those gaps and operate at a different effort level,” Fathergill said.

Whittell will need big hitting performances out of senior Isabel Concha-Foley, senior Jacquelyn Baines, senior Austyn Herrera and sophomore Darby Reeder.

“We’re a different team with Lauren. We just have to try and do it without her,” Reeder said during last week’s regional tournament.

Standing in the Warriors’ way today will be imposing 6-foot Marissa Smerek of the Lynx. She recorded 13 kills in the region championship and is the Lynx’s go-to hitter.

Both of Lincoln County’s regional matches went five games, so they are comfortable playing extended contests.

“We’re in phenomenal shape,” Lincoln County coach Ken Thornock told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We work hard every day. It says something about their courage, about their tenacity.”

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