WHS focused on extending dynasty | TahoeDailyTribune.com

WHS focused on extending dynasty

Jeremy Evans

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Whittell High senior Sarah Ingenluyff takes over for all-time assist leader Jackie Marino.

After losing six seniors that helped form one of the most dominant teams in school history, what will this year’s Whittell High volleyball team do for an encore? How about win a third straight state championship?

“There is a bunch of pressure for us to win again, but I think that we’ll be able to do it,” said junior Jessica Woods, who helped the Warriors go 23-1 in 2004. “We’re definitely not overconfident. We know we’re going to have to work hard if we want to beat the 4A schools and do the things we want. But we’re also confident in our abilities.”

The Warriors have good reason to be confident. They return all-state players in Woods, junior Kelly Karmann and senior Katrina Kacirek. The trio of Woods, Karmann and Kacirek should be able to fill in the holes left by Tina Hordzwick, Whitney Gielow and Anna Kingman.

Whittell has senior Sarah Ingenluyff ready to replace setter Jackie Marino, who set the school assist record last year, and also returns all-league defensive specialist Christina Richardson.

“I replace probably some of the best volleyball players that have ever played at Whittell,” said coach Dan McLaughlin. “That’s a lot to replace. We have a lot of work to do to try and replace them. But we return a lot of proven talent. We have a lot of nice parts.”

The nice parts will get tested like no other Whittell team has. The Warriors’ schedule includes matches against 4A schools Douglas, which finished last year at state; South Tahoe, Carson and Fallon, as well as a contest against 3A state runner-up Incline.

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The most difficult games, though, will likely come in two tournaments – the High Sierra Invitational in Reno, hosted by defending 4A state champion Galena, and the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas.

Sixteen teams that qualified for state tournaments in California’s largest two classifications will compete in the Durango tourney, including defending national champion Mira Costa. Whittell is the smallest school (220 students) to ever be invited to the tournament.

“When we play the harder schools, it’s a lot more fun,” said senior middle blocker Katie Komorowski. “There’s always a little bit of pressure, but it comes with the game. It should help us for state.”

In the Northern 2A, only Lovelock figures to give Whittell trouble. The Mustangs lost Felicia Booth, who’s now playing at the University of Iowa, but return every other key player from last year’s state runner-up team.

Aside from beating themselves, Whittell’s seniors agree that Lovelock is the only team standing between them and a third-straight state championship. Should the Warriors win state, they would become the first team in school history to win three consecutive state titles. Whittell has won three of the past five state titles.

“There’s only one team that would give me pressure and that would be Lovelock,” Ingenluyff said. “But I love pressure. It gets you excited for everything. I think it would be more disappointing to the seniors if we didn’t win state because we’ve been here the last two years. I’m not saying it’s guaranteed or anything. I just want us to do our best out there.”

Whittell file

Coach: Dan McLaughlin, ninth season

Last year: Went 23-1 and won second straight 2A state title.

Key returners: Junior front-row players Jessica Woods and Kelly Karmann, senior setter Sarah Ingenluyff.

Key to season: How will a talented and proven group of players handle the pressure of winning a third straight state title? The Warriors lost several players who were natural leaders. Finding players willing and able to provide that leadership will determine how dominant this year’s team can be.

Opener: Today at North Tahoe.

Whittell schedule

Date Opponent Time

Tuesday North Tahoe 6 p.m.

Thursday Carson 6 p.m.

Sept. 6 Coleville 5 p.m.

Sept. 9-10 High Sierra Invite TBA

Sept. 13 Fallon 6 p.m.

Sept. 16-17 Durango Tourney TBA

Sept. 20 Lovelock 6 p.m.

Sept. 23 Battle Mountain 5 p.m.

Sept. 24 Silver Stage 10 a.m.

Sept. 30 Douglas 6 p.m.

Oct. 3 Fallon 6 p.m.

Oct. 7 Hawthorne 4 p.m.

Oct. 18 Incline 5 p.m.

Oct. 19 Damonte Ranch 6 p.m.

Oct. 22 Silver Stage 11 a.m.

Oct. 25 Truckee 6 p.m.

Oct. 27 Hawthorne 6 p.m.

Oct. 28 South Tahoe 6 p.m.

Nov. 1 Yerington 6 p.m.

Nov. 5 Zone playoffs TBA

Nov. 10-12 State playoffs TBA

Note: Home games in bold.

Nevada volleyball dynasties

School Classification Titles

Whittell 2A 2003-???

Moapa Valley 2A, 3A 1991-2003

Smith Valley Class B 1975-1979

Note: Whittell won consecutive 1A state titles in 1977-78 and 1985-86.