Warriors capture fifth straight title
ZEPHYR COVE – When North Tahoe High School moved from the 3A to 2A classification before the season, current Northern 2A members knew the region would experience an instant upgrade. This was evident at the Northern 2A regional championship this past Saturday when the four-time defending 2A state champion Whittell Warriors were given all they could handle by the Lakers before coming away with a hard-fought 25-15, 25-23, 17-25, 25-20 victory at Whittell High School.
“North Tahoe is a huge, athletic team that plays with intensity,” said Whittell coach Dan McLaughlin. “It’s great to have them in the league. It makes everybody play better.”
The Warriors and Lakers both qualified for the 2A state tournament this week in Las Vegas with their regional semifinal wins. But in the regional title match between the teams, both battled point-for-point in every game until Whittell’s experience took over in the fourth game.
Sloppy play marred the first game as both teams were having difficulty keeping serves in. After tying the score at 7 on a block by senior Jordan Reeder, the Warriors reeled off seven-straight points thanks to the hitting of Brittney Makara.
Whittell (16-6) kept a comfortable lead on the Lakers behind kills by sophomores Isabel Concha-Foley and Lauren Andrew and sealed the 10-point victory on an ace by senior Kendra Koskin.
North Tahoe came to life in the second game behind powerful 6-foot-2 hitter Laura Hansen. The senior recorded a kill to give the Lakers an 11-7 lead. Whittell, though, fought back to take a 15-14 lead on a block by sophomore Jacquelyn Baines, then held off a late North Tahoe rally to win by two points on a Reeder kill.
The third game saw seven ties, the last time at 15 on a kill by Andrew. North Tahoe’s strong front line of Hansen and junior Kayla Baumgartner – and pin-point setting of junior Kelly Hester – helped the Lakers run away with the seven-point victory that shifted the momentum to the girls in black uniforms.
“We didn’t have the intensity in the third game, but got our enthusiasm back for the fourth game and played Warrior volleyball,” McLaughlin said.
In the fourth game, Whittell took the first five points, but North Tahoe fought back, matching the Warriors point-for-point, and knotting the match at 15 on a kill by Hansen. The Warriors doubled up the Lakers from there on, winning the final game and the match on a kill by Reeder.
“It made it meaningful playing such a good team like that,” senior Kendra Koskin said. “Hopefully, we’ll play them again next week in the (state) championship.”
As the Warrior girls accepted their fifth straight Northern 2A regional trophy, they knew it was well-earned after their intense battle with their neighbors, and new rivals from the north end of the lake. Though the southern Nevada representatives will have their say, many believe these Northern 2A schools will do battle again next week with the state title on the line.
Koskin led the Warriors in kills with 14, followed by Reeder with 11 and Andrew with eight. Sophomores led the team in blocks with Andrew and Baines each registering five and Concha-Foley posting four. Makara had six digs, Brette Harrington and Koskin five each, with Reeder and Koskin each recording three digs.
In the regional semifinals earlier on Saturday, Whittell guaranteed themselves a spot in the 2A state tournament with a three-game sweep of Battle Mountain 25-15, 25-10, 25-22.
The Warriors seemed a bit rusty after Tuesday’s emotional win over rival South Tahoe, creating many unforced errors in the beginning of the opening game. After the Longhorns tied the game at 10, the Whittell senior trio of Kendra Koskin, Jordan Reeder and Brittney Makara took charge, overpowering Battle Mountain at the net for the 10-point win.
The second game saw the Warriors return to championship form as they cruised to a 15-point win. Stellar defense by Brette Harrington and strong serving by Jacquelyn Baines helped give Whittell the easy win.
The Warriors mounted an 11-3 lead in the final game, then held off a late charge by the Longhorns to win by three.
North Tahoe defeated Lovelock 26-24, 27-25, 27-25 in the other semifinal.
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