STHS volleyball hosts defending state champs |

STHS volleyball hosts defending state champs

Steve Yingling

What a home opener for the South Tahoe High volleyball team.

The Vikings welcome the defending 4A state champion Galena Grizzlies into their rockin’ gold gym tonight at 6. The non-league match should give STHS an early indication of how it rates with one of the region’s powers.

“This is gonna be a big one,” said STHS volleyball coach Gary Hankoff. “It should be a war. A lot of these kids play club against each other, and we have a really fun atmosphere for volleyball. People should come check it out.”

Hankoff said the team’s ear-pleasing sound system and the entertaining announcing of Frank Kovac adds to the Vikings’ volleyball experience for spectators.

“Frank is one of the best announcers in the state and he creates a lot of excitement,” Hankoff said.

Spectators can expect a high caliber of volleyball from the Vikings as well.

South Tahoe (7-1) opened its season by winning the Lowry tournament last week in Winnemucca. The Vikings overcame a pasting at the hands of Middleton, a team out of Boise, Idaho, in pool play to win the championship.

Hankoff shuffled his lineup early in the tournament, but was surprised when his best group was thumped by the Boise team.

“I know that has to be my starting lineup,” he said. “They recovered after that really bad loss, and I never changed it. They got more confident and more comfortable.”

They dispatched 2004 Nevada 2A state runner-up Lovelock three times in two-game sweeps to win the title.

STHS senior middle blocker Jessica Bettencourt was selected the tournament’s MVP of tournament.

“Jessica hit some balls that were bell ringers,” Hankoff said.

Christina Baghdikian was named to the all-tournament team. Hankoff said two of his team’s unsung heroes – Dana Jensen and Stephanie Morrow – also played well.

“Dana led the whole team statistically and for Stephanie, there is no glory for the setter. Nobody in (our league) is at Steph’s level,” Hankoff said.

That tonight’s big match follows the first day of school at STHS concerns Hankoff somewhat.

“It will be a little bit hectic, so we’ll just deal,” he said. “Maybe that will help us get a little bit of a crowd.”

Galena, which recently lost to Douglas in a Las Vegas tournament, has two of the league’s best players in twins Julia and Lydia Mailander.

“I really think we match up with them,” Hankoff said.

A JV match starts tonight’s action-packed doubleheader at 4:45 p.m.

In other local volleyball action today, defending 2A state champion Whittell (2-0) hosts Coleville at 5 p.m. in Zephyr Cove.

It is the home opener for the Warriors, who are coming off a straight-set victory at 4A Carson last week.

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