South Shore volleyball rivalry continues
It doesn’t matter who the Whittell volleyball team plays. Dan McLaughlin enjoys beating the opposition. But this week, the Warriors play a game that brings a wave of trepidation for their coach.
“It’s probably the most emotional game I will ever play because my daughter plays for South Tahoe,” McLaughlin said. “She doesn’t want to lose to me, and that’s why I have the highest respect for her. She is going to fight hard to win this match.”
Shaylene McLaughlin, a senior, will play her last home match in a South Tahoe uniform on Wednesday when the Vikings host the Warriors. And for the first time in her career, the Vikings won’t be going to the playoffs after facing their South Shore counterpart.
“I think because we’re not going to the playoffs, we might actually bring up the intensity a little bit,” Shaylene McLaughlin said. “This is our last game and it means a lot. If there weren’t rivalries, sports would be boring.”
Whittell (23-8), which wrapped up its fourth consecutive Northern 2A title last week, has won the past three matches in the series. South Tahoe (8-14) is coming off league losses last week to Douglas and Carson, results that eliminated South Tahoe from the Northern 4A playoff race.
Regardless, first-year STHS coach Sarah Poulack believes her team will be motivated to face the Warriors, who have won the past three 2A state titles and are the top-ranked team in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll.
“It’s always going to generate excitement because it’s the only two schools up here,” Poulack said. “I wouldn’t say if we win, we’re going to brag about it. I just think it’s going to be a fun match for the girls and a match that won’t go against them if they lose.”
With such a difference in enrollment (South Tahoe has about 1,400 students, Whittell about 240), coach McLaughlin argues volleyball is probably the only sport the schools can compete against each other on a regular basis. After all, the Warriors have won four of the past six 2A state titles and have a winning record against 4A schools since 2002.
“Honestly, it’s not a huge school versus school rivalry because we’re the only team that can compete with South Tahoe,” coach McLaughlin said. “The other teams can’t, because if you asked most of the coaches, it wouldn’t be fair.
“But this match is also a big deal because it’s the last opportunity to watch two of the best players ever on South Shore. Adrian Hankoff was such a great player at South Tahoe, but she didn’t have a running mate like Jessica Woods does with Kelly Karmann and Kelly with Jessica. That’s what makes them so special.”
Battle of the South Shore
1999: South Tahoe def. Whittell 3-0
2000: South Tahoe def. Whittell 3-0
2001: South Tahoe def. Whittell 3-0
2002: South Tahoe def. Whittell 3-2
2003: Whittell def. South Tahoe 3-0
2004: Whittell def. South Tahoe 3-1
2005: Whittell def. South Tahoe 3-0
2006: Whittell at South Tahoe, 6 p.m.