State, league bestow honors on WHS spikers
Whittell High’s 2001 volleyball program graduated four first-team Northern 2A League players. But it’s younger players returned this year to go further in league play, earning two first-team 2A all-state honors, and six Northern 2A League honors.
Senior outside hitters Jessica Rickman and Shelly Zaskoda earned first-team, all-state honors and first-team Northern League honors.
Offensively, Rickman led the team in kills with 3.1 per game and 72 stuff blocks. She had a team-leading 34 percent hitting rate.
Zaskoda, co-team captain with fellow senior Alicia Thorne, led the team with 70 aces. She averaged 2.2 kills per game with a hitting mark of 19 percent. She racked up 171 service points and 23 stuff blocks.
Thorne also received second-team 2A Northern League honors. She was second on the team in service aces with 53 and made a strong defensive showing.
Warrior coach Danny McLaughlin said there is no way to overstate the value and impact the two captains and offensive leader made to the team. They led and coached a large core of sophomores to zone, where they finished runner-up to Hawthorne to advance to state.
“It was hard at the beginning because it was a new team, but I think this year was the strongest bonding of girls of the teams that I’ve been on. Everyone got along well,” Zaskoda said.
Two of those sophomores earned second-team Northern League honors with Thorne.
Jackie Marino earned honors as the team’s setter and Whitney Gielow as the team’s defensive specialist.
“Jackie Marino was asked to run a sophisticated, collegiate style offense,” said McLaughlin. “That was asking a lot … and she did it.”
Marino accumulated 613 assists. She also made 114 service points, 17 kills, 15 aces and two blocks.
Moving the ball on the net and making a variety of sets isn’t possible without a strong defense, McLaughlin said, and that’s where Gielow and Thorne really came into play.
While the teams didn’t keep accurate records on digs for the year, McLaughlin said Gielow and Zaskoda likely averaged two digs per game. Thorne was close to 1.5 per game.
Also receiving honorable mention as a sophomore was Tina Hordzwick, who collected 1.1 kills per game. She also had nine blocks for the year.
Six of the team’s 13 players are sophomores and will likely be a powerful force if they continue to improve.
“They did an awesome job this year and I can’t imagine what they’re going to do in years to come,” Zaskoda said of the younger girls on the team. “They’re a great bunch of girls and they have a lot of talent.”
Notes: Rickman recently tried out and made the No. 1 18s Silver State club volleyball team. McLaughlin said the team played in the open division at the national championship and finished third. For Rickman to make the team, he said, “is really a feather in her cap.”
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