Whittell goes for slice of Nevada history | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell goes for slice of Nevada history

Steve Yingling

Julie Sullivan / Tahoe Daily Tribune Katie Komorowski, left, of Whittell High successfully blocks a Hawthorne player during a regular-season match.

Two more wins and a state volleyball threepeat belongs to Whittell.

Whittell will become one of only three Nevada Class 2A teams to win three consecutive state titles if they do the expected and capture the four-team championship Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas.

Only Lincoln County, Moapa Valley and North Tahoe have won more consecutive championships. Moapa Valley won five straight titles from 1991-95, North Tahoe captured four in a row from 1985-88 and Lincoln County pulled off a threepeat from 1997-99.

“We’re trying to show that we are arguably the best volleyball team the 2A’s ever had,” said Whittell coach Dan McLaughlin.

But McLaughlin won’t go as far as to say that this year’s team is better than the one that won the 2A crown a year ago.

“I couldn’t compare them because they are a lot of the same people,” he said. “Those are two special teams. Last year’s team set the table for this team to do well.

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“We’ve accomplished some things that team didn’t. They didn’t sweep South Tahoe. They didn’t sweep Douglas. In 10 years they will be able to look back and say they were a part of something absolutely amazing and special.”

Despite their overwhelming favorite role, McLaughlin knows his Warriors aren’t perfect. He reaffirmed that fact early in the week when he had his team focus on some deficiencies.

“We’re trying to get our transition passing where it needs to be,” McLaughlin said. “We have to get a little more crisp on passing and defense.

“We’re trying to improve our game so we’re peaking right when we need to peak.”

Of the three teams trying to upset the Warriors, McLaughlin is most concerned about Lovelock since he knows the Mustangs best.

“They are not intimidated by us,” he said. “They probably would have made the playoffs in 4A, too, and they are extremely well-coached.”

The Warriors’ record and game counts are certainly intimidating. Whittell has won 35 straight regular-season matches, including 21 this season. More impressively, they are 63-3 in games to 25 points.

Whittell isn’t 100 percent entering championship weekend. Megan Esquivel dislocated a shoulder during last week’s regional championships and all-everything outside hitter Jessica Woods missed the match before regionals with a calf injury. Esquivel won’t play this weekend, but Woods, the Northern 2A’s co-MVP with teammate Kelly Karmann, is good to go.

“It’s significant when you lose a quality player, but we have a lot of talent and we have a lot of kids who work hard to be successful,” McLaughlin said.

Senior Meri Johnson and sophomore Kendra Koskin will likely share playing time in Esquivel’s spot.

Whittell’s first test is The Meadows, the last two-time 2A state champion, at 12:15 p.m. at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas. The winner of that match will play the survivor of Needles and Lovelock at noon Saturday.

Needles was the surprise champion of last week’s Southern 2A Regional Championships, knocking off regular-season winner The Meadows in the finals. Third-seeded Needles won that exciting match, 31-29, 23-25, 26-24 and 26-24.