South Shore supremacy
Whittell sweeps South Tahoe to take series lead
By Paul Andrew
ZEPHYR COVE – In South Shore high school volleyball, there is no game bigger than the annual Whittell-South Tahoe game. This battle for South Shore supremacy is always the rowdiest sporting event of the year, and by far the best attended by students and fans of both teams.
Before a packed Whittell gym featuring boisterous cheering sections from both schools, the Warriors utilized their senior experience in a hard-fought sweep of the Vikings, 26-24, 25-12, 25-15.
More fuel to the fire was added to this year’s border war as the match determined which school would assume the all-time lead in the rivalry.
The Vikings won the first four matches from 1999 until 2002. The Warriors won the next four since taking their first victory in 2003. With the overall score tied 4-4, this year’s winner would hold bragging rights as the series leader.
For Whittell, who will be hosting the 2A zone tournament this weekend as they pursue the team’s fifth straight Nevada championship, the match is a culmination of successful season that saw the Warriors achieve an overall record of 14-6 in nontournament play and a perfect 10-0 league mark.
South Tahoe (4-13 overall), led by new coach Meghan Reid, played competitively all year with a relatively young team, though failed to make the playoffs. Being their last match of the year, winning this battle would be like claiming a championship for the Vikings.
Before the match, seniors from both teams were recognized. For South Tahoe’s Hillary Santana, Erika Marty and Kimberlee Kolesnik, this match represented a chance to end their careers with a victory.
An emotional ceremony honored Whittell seniors Shawnya Worley, Jordan Reeder, Kendra Koskin and Brittney Makara, the latter two who have overcome losses of fathers in recent years. In a statement read by coach Dan McLaughlin, Makara dedicated the match to her father, knowing that he was still cheering her on.
The first game didn’t disappoint the rowdy, packed house, as South Tahoe pulled ahead 8-3 on the superb defensive play of Santana and dominant net play of junior Caroline Baghdikian. Whittell crept back in, tying the game at 9 on a kill by Lauren Andrew.
Back and forth the game went with several lead changes until South Tahoe mounted a 23-18 lead. The Warrior senior took over as Koskin smashed several kills before Reeder pounded the first game winner.
“The crowd intimidated us in the first game,” McLauglin said. “The crowd was terrific on both sides. Playing in front of a crowd with this energy is a great experience for the girls.”
In the second game, the emotional first game loss seemed to drain South Tahoe as the Vikings fell behind 10-2 on a kill by Koskin. Jacquelyn Baines recorded several keys blocks, with Koskin smashing the final Whittell point on a perfect set by Worley as the Warriors cruised to their game-two win.
The fire returned to the young Vikings as they began game three with vengeance. Behind the sparkling defensive play of sophomore Kasey Roberts, serving of freshman Rianna Cerceo and net play of Rachel Kaufer, South Tahoe matched Whittell point for point before a kill by Jackielyn Lopez gave the California school a 12-9 lead. The Warriors fought back to tie the game at 14 before Isabel Concha-Foley blocked a Viking spike to give Whittell a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. The trio of senior hitters, Makara, Koskin and Reeder, took over from there, as the Warriors played mistake-free ball during the remainder of the 10-point victory to record the sweep of their crosstown rivals.
“Our team really stepped up in the first game,” Viking coach Meghan Reid said. “We did a lot of good things under the pressure. The defense was phenomenal.”
Tuesday’s match won’t soon be forgotten.
“This was so exciting and great to be in the game,” said Warrior senior Worley, playing her last regular season game. “This was my highlight of high school.”
Added McLaughlin, “South Tahoe played better than I’ve seen them play all year. The energy level from both teams was fantastic.”
For the Warriors, Reeder led the team with 12 kills, followed by Koskin and Andrew with eight each and Makara with five. Koskin led in service points with 11, Baines had nine and Andrew eight. Makara had 10 digs, Koskin and Reeder nine and Brette Harrington seven. Concha-Foley and Baines each had four blocks for the Warriors.
South Tahoe statistics were not available.
In the JV match, South Tahoe swept the Warriors 25-14, 25-19.