Viking spikers rally past game Warriors
Tears of disappointment afterward signified to some of Whittell High’s volleyball players that they should have upset South Tahoe for the first time Tuesday night in South Lake Tahoe.
Only four points away from winning the border battle in the fourth game, Whittell couldn’t ride the momentum swing to a season-opening victory. Instead, the Class 4A school with an enrollment six-fold to Whittell’s came back to win a match it was expected to control.
“I think they are better than last year. Their ball control was great. We’re not going to see as good of ball control from now on as we saw tonight,” said South Tahoe coach Gary Hankoff after the gut-wrenching 15-7, 3-15, 14-16, 15-12, 15-8 victory at STHS. “Every first match for me has been a nightmare. I should be in intensive care.”
After watching the defending Nevada 2A state champions storm back from a 12-1 deficit in Game 3, Hankoff’s raw nerves were understandable.
“There’s not a whole lot that I can say that I was happy about,” Hankoff said.
Obviously, Whittell coach Dan McLaughlin thought his Warriors should have left STHS’s half-packed gym with a “W.”
“I’m very, very disappointed we didn’t win this match,” McLaughlin said. “We played well, except at the end we stopped passing the serves. We have to play consistently for the whole match, and that is something we will learn.”
Behind seven service points off the right hand of Jessica Dilegame and two kills by Rachel Hankoff, STHS appeared to take command of the match by blasting out to a 12-1 lead in Game 3. However, the Vikings quickly lost their momentum because of poor serving and passing, and Whittell pounced on the opportunity by outdigging and outhustling its hosts.
“We just lost our intensity,” Dilegame said. “We still have a lot to work on.”
“It was clearly a case of the slugger and the puncher. We were the little guys out there running down balls and digging, and they have some knockout punchers,” McLaughlin said.
The agony from the Game 3 debacle seemed to hang with the Vikings until they sensed the match slipping away late in the next game. After Ashley Bern’s block gave Whittell a 10-6 edge and Dilegame hit long for an 11-7 WHS lead, the Vikings found the rhythm that they opened the nonleague match with.
A Dilegame kill, Jessica Urreaga block and two misshits by Erin Silver squared the match at 11. Urreaga contributed a block and kill for two more points as the Vikings scored eight of the final nine points to take the game and even the match at 2.
In the deciding game, with rally serving in effect, the Vikings went to their pair of Jessicas for the kill.
Dilegame delivered three kills on sets from Urreaga and Brittany Young’s pair of change-of-pace points off dinks put away the Warriors.
“The bright spot for us was that Jessica and Jessica connected tonight, and they haven’t been doing that in practice,” coach Hankoff said.
“When you have a player of that caliber, you’re going to win games. She really stepped it up at the end,” McLaughlin said of Dilegame’s play.
Erin Silver led Whittell with 12 kills and also contributed 11 service points. Shelly Zaskoda had 10 service points and seven blocks; Stephanie Evans served 16 points and Jessika Purdy delivered seven kills and seven service points.
Whittell and South Tahoe split the other two matches, with the Warriors winning the frosh rivalry in three games and the Vikings taking the JV battle in in two games.
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