uThe future of Whittell volleyball looks bright
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
In high school sports, as opposed to college, success one year can easily lead to mediocrity the next. Without recruiting, the talent well can dry up. So history would suggest that Whittell, after winning state titles in 2000 and 2003, not to mention being on the verge of winning another this weekend, could be entering one of those down cycles.
But then you see sophomores Jessica Woods and Kelly Karmann terrorizing the front row, as well as solid play from juniors Katrina Kacirek and Sarah Ingenluyff, and realize history might be predicting the future for the Warriors’ volleyball program.
“Jessica and Kelly are definitely amazing players and huge assets to this team,” said senior Tina Hordzwick. “And I think next year, there is a huge possibility that we’re going to win state again. I think this team will be great for a really long time.”
Woods leads the team with 252 kills and is second on the team with a kill percentage of 60 percent. The only person Woods trails in that statistical department is Karmann, a middle blocker who has an amazing kill percentage of 65 percent, which has helped her record 189 kills this season. Karmann is also near the school record in blocks (81). Both Woods and Karmann earned all-state honors as freshmen.
“Jessica is already one of the top outside hitters around,” McLaughlin said. “She’s quick and she hits hard. She’s one of the top lefts anywhere in the state and Kelly is probably the top middle in the state. You don’t get talent like this very often. It makes me look like a genius because of the quality of the players.”
The talent, though, doesn’t stop with Woods and Karmann. Kacirek, who is second on the team in blocks with 71, already has the school record for aces with 86. But with senior setter Jackie Marino graduating, who will provide these players with kill opportunities? That’s where Ingenluyff, a defensive specialist, figures into the equation. Ingenluyff is second on the team with 158 assists.
“I think Whittell volleyball is going to be really strong for a while,” Marino said. “They have great setters taking my place and Jessica and Kelly are great players. They should lead the team really well next year. I have great hope they will win state again next year. It’s been really important for the seniors this year to work with the younger players so that the legacy does go on.”
Juniors Meri Johnson, Katie Komorowski and Christina Richardson will all see increased roles next season, ensuring that the Warriors continue to stay among the top teams in Nevada. This year’s team is as complete a unit as McLaughlin has had in his 10 years at Whittell and his senior captain doesn’t mind acknowledging the importance of the team’s younger players.
“I’m giving props to the underclassmen, but I think Jessica is very important because she is everywhere,” Hordzwick said. “She’s pretty good at everything. When she’s not hitting her best, she can make up for it in other ways. If she got hurt, it would really hurt us.”