Focus is all Whittell needed to defeat Incline |

Focus is all Whittell needed to defeat Incline

Dan Thrift/Tahoe TribuneWhittell High's Jessica Rickman dinks a shot over the heads of Incline defenders Tuesday in a 2A Northern Region match in Zephyr Cove.

The cheer, “One, two, three, focus!” and a kill by senior Jessica Rickman were all George Whittell High School’s volleyball team needed to get back in the groove against Incline.

Led by Rickman and 5-foot-8 senior Shelly Zaskoda, who had 10 kills, the Warriors defeated the Incline Highlanders Tuesday in three 15-10, 15-7, 15-12 to take the first of two homecoming matches.

The Warriors had a brief lapse in the intensity demonstrated in the first two games when, in game three, they blew a 9-0 lead to allow the Highlanders to come within one at 13-12.

Coach Dan McLaughlin immediately called time-out.

“Homecoming week is a tough time for a league match,” McLaughlin said after the game.

But with a cheer punctuated by a final “Focus!” from the team, a kill by Rickman, followed by kills from Tina Hordzwick and Jackie Marino, the Warriors closed the match down.

“The bottom line,” McLaughlin added, “is when the game gets tight, they find another gear to win.”

Hordzwick finished the day with four kills. Whitney Gielow had five digs and three service aces, and Alicia Thorne had five service aces.

Rickman, who had six kills, three blocks and as many digs and service aces, carried the team’s momentum. It was her kill that broke Incline’s rally and her final kill to end the match.

“Usually if we get one good play, we’re right back in it,” Rickman said of Incline’s rally in game three. “The girls tell (Zaskoda and I) that they love watching us hit. So when we get that, it helps pump them up.”

Despite Shelby Abart’s seven kills, Incline struggled with unforced errors, and had 10 service errors as a team.

With a varsity of two juniors, seven sophomores and one freshman, Incline lacks depth and experience.

“We’re still without the experience of somebody to pull the group together,” said head Highlander coach Miles Gable. Gable, who was an assistant coach at the University of South California before moving to Lake Tahoe, also credited the Warriors’ serving and team play.

The Warriors’ second homecoming week game is Saturday at noon against Virginia City.

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