Warriors ready to make a state-ment
State playoff appearances and Whittell High volleyball go hand in hand.
For at least the past six years, the Warriors have been a top team in Nevada 3A play. But going into the 1997 NIAA/U.S. Bank state championships, the Warriors will be looking to break a recent streak of poor performances. In the last three seasons, the girls haven’t made it past the first day of games, having lost two straight matches each time.
“Volleyball is a big tradition at our school. And we have this reputation of choking at state. This year, we can go further than we have before,” said Becca Fore, the team’s lone senior and kill leader. “Coming out of zone (second place), we’re really confident. Before I just don’t think we were that consistent. Anybody could have beat us on any given day. But at zone, we pulled it all together (and did) what we’d learned all year.”
The Warriors open state play against North Tahoe today at 2:15 p.m. at Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nev. Whittell downed the Highlanders during the regular season and other team members expect to be up to the challenge.
“We’re definitely peaking at the right time. I knew we were going to make it to state,” said junior Sarah Sufka. “Except for Becca and Jahna (Rico), we’ve all played together since seventh grade. We all know each other and know what we need to do. If we play the way we’re capable of (against North Tahoe), I know we can beat them. Then it’s on from there.”
Added Rico, a sophomore back row defensive specialist, “We were kind of intimidated in zone after we lost to Hawthorne. We thought we weren’t going to make it. But we won and made state. We have the intelligence and the ability to beat the top teams.”
Teamwork will serve as the measuring stick as the Warriors make their way through the tournament. If the team shows the same kind of focus and intensity it displayed during zone, while adequately playing their individual roles, coach Dan McLaughlin thinks special things can happen.
“I don’t underestimate this team because they never stop amazing me at what they’re capable of doing. They’re in a mode where they seem like they’re ready to play and work as a team,” said McLaughlin, who expects North Tahoe, Hawthorne, Whittell and Moapa Valley to compete for the title. “My expectations of this team are to come home with the trophy. We can win some games. No pressure – that would be a successful trip. But I’m very happy with whatever they do because I know that when you go to a tournament of this kind anything is possible.”
Added sophomore Erin Zaskoda, “We need to play together and forget everything else – concentrate, focus on the next play, not worry about our mistakes and just play volleyball. I think we can go all the way to Saturday and make it to the championship game.”
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