Whittell senior night ends with sweep of North Tahoe
On an emotional night for the Whittell volleyball team, five senior girls ended their regular season home careers with a nonleague sweep of North Tahoe 25-9, 25-17 and 25-11 on Tuesday in Zephyr Cove. Before the game, Ashley Amaral, Megan Esquivel, Kelly Karmann, Alana Mozley and Jessica Woods were honored for their contributions to the program during the past four years.
The departing class leaves a volleyball legacy at Whittell that has included three 2A state titles and three Northern 2A championships. And with a winning record against 4A schools this year, Whittell is currently the top-ranked team in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll.
The girls took time to reflect on what playing for the Warriors has meant to their high school careers.
“I can’t believe it went so fast,” said Amaral, a strong defensive player and consistent server who can always be counted on to lead defensively. “It seems like we were just freshmen entering high school.”
“Volleyball has been such a big part of my life,” added Mozley, who has overcome injuries this season but has been a force from her left-side position. “These have been the best days of our lives.”
Woods and Karmann, co-captains and last year’s Nevada 2A co-MVP’s, have been stars for the varsity since they were freshman. They could become the first South Shore athletes to ever accomplish a “four-peat” if Whittell wins another state title next month.
“I love this team,” Karmann said. “It seems like my older sister was just taking me out in the snow to practice serving for eighth-grade tryouts.”
Esquivel, whose solid play in the middle has helped propel the Warriors to an undefeated record in nontournament games, was sad about her last game. “These are my best friends. I love this sport.”
Coach Dan McLaughlin started all his seniors, who jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first game behind Woods’ strong net play and Karmann’s left-handed jump serves. As a result, the Warriors cruised to a 16-point win.
“Jess and Kelly have been the backbone of this team for four years,” McLaughlin said. “They’ve contributed seven of the championship banners on our wall. I’ve enjoyed all the seniors. They are all class kids who have set the standards for this team.”
In game two, Mozley recorded several powerful kills, with Amaral contributing several digs and a timely dink over the North Tahoe front line. Esquivel spiked home the winner, giving the senior team their second victory.
Game three saw Amaral hit several kills, with Woods keeping the Lakers on their heels with her devastating jump serves. With the Warriors leading 14-4, McLaughlin gave the appreciative crowd a look into the future, substituting out all of the seniors. The young Warriors, though, didn’t miss a beat, cruising to the eight-point win with freshman Jacquelyn Baines recording the last kill in the victory.
Woods led the team with 10 kills, while Amaral, Esquivel, Mozley and Karmann each contributed three kills apiece. Esquivel also had three blocks, with Karmann and Woods both adding two blocks to their stat lines.
As the Warriors aim for a fourth straight state championship, they bid farewell to a group of seniors who not only led the team with their quality play on the court, but represented Whittell (24-8) with class and integrity that will be remembered for years.
STHS sweeps Panthers
Christina Baghdikian led the way on senior night with nine kills as the South Tahoe volleyball team posted a 25-14, 25-16, 25-18 Sierra League victory over North Valleys on Tuesday at STHS. Coral Warren added four kills and Leanne DeBella contributed three aces.
“We had really solid play from all the seniors,” said STHS first-year coach Sarah Poulack. “It was good to see them play well.”
Helen Burkart, Kimberlee Kolesnik and Nikki Karetov all had great defensive games for the Vikings (9-14 overall, 5-8 league), who host South Shore rival Whittell in a nonleague game tonight at 6 p.m. Since 1999, South Tahoe leads the series between the schools 4-3 but has lost the last three matches.
Tribune sportswriter Jeremy Evans contributed to this report.