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Warriors aim to host zone tournament

Michael Traum

The cannon is gone, but the gun is still loaded. Whittell High’s volleyball team lost Rebecca Fore to graduation. She killed the Warriors into a first-round win at state for the first time in three years (fifth-place overall finish) and guided the group to a state berth for the sixth straight season.

The question is: Did the Warrior threat disappear when Fore did?

Enter the 1998-99 squad. They’re out to answer that with resounding results.

“Last year, mainly one person was the star and everybody else was in the background. This year, we will concentrate on everyone. I think we’ll be very good contenders,” said junior returner Erin Zaskoda. “We’ve got to work out some things, like passing and chemistry. When we find the right combination of people, we can (contend) for a zone title.”

Fore was undoubtedly the star last year but can be compensated for, according to coach Dan McLaughlin.

“Rebecca was a fabulous player and when you’ve got a big gun you shoot it. But this year, without someone that talented, I don’t think you’re going to see a drop-off in productivity at all,” he said. “We’re going to have a pretty solid team offensively. The question is going to be how we do defensively, but we should be solid.”

The soul of the team remains intact and tough. Senior Sarah Sufka, a first-team all-state setter, should have plenty of Warriors ready to kill. Seniors Karin Kaleta and Aurora Terry, along with Zaskoda, are returning starters. Jamie Borge, Jahna Rico, Shannon McGlothlin, Danielle Cronis, Georgia Novotny, Nikke Ornelas and Renata Costa will provide support.

“I think this is a really balanced and even team. Our goal is to host zone here,” said McLaughlin, whose team was 8-4, 12-6 overall. “I want everybody to feel like they’re a part of what we’re doing, involved and contributing. The nice thing is our key players are very team-oriented. They’ve improved to the point that we don’t need one feature player.”

If one player has the initial potential to spell Fore, it’s Terry. The senior praised her matriculated friend and hopes she can fill her shoes.

“(Rebecca) was such a great player, there’s no way I can replace her. My job is to do the best I can and try to make the kills and pay attention to the court. We have three or four hitters who have matured, so that it’s not relying on just one person,” she said. “Practice has been missing the intensity level. But that will come with games. We’re not going to lose focus this year.”

McLaughlin isn’t sure what to expect from the league, except to say he knows his team will be targeted.

“Hawthorne is always solid because they’re very athletic. Lovelock, Manogue, Dayton and Yerington have new coaches. It’s hard to know what there is. But every year, everybody wants to beat Whittell. It’s always been somebody else going to zone with Whittell. They’re all going to be gunning for us and we know it,” he said.

The Warriors open play today at Truckee. Game time is 6 p.m.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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