Whittell receives scare, then beats STHS
If the Whittell volleyball team thought South Tahoe would be intimidated by the defending 2A state champs, it didn’t take long for the Warriors to find out otherwise.
Motivated by a supportive crowd, the Vikings stunned Whittell High with an 11-point victory in the first game, but order was eventually restored as the Warriors pulled out a 14-25, 25-22, 25-10, 25-16 nonleague win on Wednesday at STHS.
South Tahoe was trying to become the first team since North Tahoe in 2003 to beat the Warriors in a non-tournament match. Instead, the Vikings lost to their South Shore rival for the fourth consecutive year.
“We got a little nervous there, but we knew all we had to do was focus on the fundamentals and we would pull through,” said junior setter Jordan Reeder, who finished with five blocks and two digs. “We just had to settle down. But this was an emotional game, a pride game, and hopefully we can take this confidence into zone and state.”
Whittell (24-8) doesn’t play again until the Northern 2A regional tournament, scheduled for Nov. 3-4 in Zephyr Cove. The Vikings, meanwhile, finish their season tonight against Hug in Reno.
South Tahoe (8-15), which will miss the Northern 4A playoffs after making the regional semifinals last year, knows it had a chance to upset the top-ranked team in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media poll.
“That’s kind of been our style,” said first-year STHS coach Sarah Poulack. “We always start out well and then once the other team starts scoring some points, we lose our confidence.”
In the first game, Christina Baghdikian reeled off eight service points – including three aces – as South Tahoe turned a 6-5 lead into a 13-5 advantage. A series of errors doomed the Warriors, a reality that spilled over the second game, where they fell behind 8-5 and were in danger of going down two games.
But Whittell fought back to take a 10-9 lead, with neither team leading by more than two points until a Megan Esquivel kill, a Brittany Makara ace and a STHS hitting error gave the Warriors a 24-18 lead. Although the Vikings’ Nikki Karetov had three straight service points to make it 24-22, Kelly Karmann’s kill negated any chance for a comeback.
“We made a lot of mistakes early, but we aren’t the best team in the state of Nevada for no reason,” said WHS coach Dan McLaughlin, whose team has won the past three 2A state titles. “We have weapons everywhere and can beat you in a lot of ways.”
In the pivotal third game, it turned out to be the physical presence of Karmann and the heady play of freshman Lauren Andrew that made the difference for Whittell. With the game tied at 10, Karmann’s kill made it 11-10 and Andrew proceeded to tally 14 straight service points, including a kill of her own that clinched the 25-10 victory for the Warriors.
Karmann, who finished with 11 kills and nine blocks in the match, had five kills and three blocks in the critical 15-point run. And in the fourth game, Whittell gave South Tahoe (8-15) a heavy dosage of Jessica Woods, who had five of her 11 kills in the decisive game.
The Vikings were never able to recover, though Baghdikian had three of her team-high nine kills in the fourth game. Hillary Santana led the Vikings defensively with 21 digs, while Coral Warren had four kills and three blocks and Chelsea Madsen added four kills.