WHS rattles Viking cage | TahoeDailyTribune.com

WHS rattles Viking cage

Jim GrantWhitney Gielow of Whittell High keeps the ball in play against STHS on Tuesday night

Obviously, the Whittell Warriors had something to gain by winning, and the South Tahoe Vikings did not.

The Warriors were pumped, the fans were pumped and it was clear their performance was the kind of show that Warrior head coach Danny McLaughlin hopes to see when the second-seeded Warriors head to zone on Friday.

“We played well. We played very well,” he said. “But you have to give credit to (the Vikings). Their backs were up against the wall and they scrapped, they clawed, and fought and dug … and they played well.”

The volleyball match went five games for the second straight year, and for at least the second time the Vikings squeezed out another victory.

They also walked away with an ego-bruising lump by narrowly hanging on against a team two divisions smaller.

“We won, but it was another one of those embarrassing matches,” said coach Gary Hankoff of the Vikings’ 15-3, 11-15, 11-15, 15-12, 15-8 victory in the Warrior gym.

The Vikings, who are the third seed in the 4A Northern Region Championships, played a game for the first time since Oct. 29 against Galena.

They may not have felt rusty, but it was clear Whittell played a more relaxed game.

“It was all unforced errors .. and that stuff hurts you no matter who you’re playing,” said the Vikings’ Kristen Burrell.

Burrell said she wasn’t surprised by how well the Warriors played because she feels they are a consistent team from year to year.

One might add that they are consistently strong from year to year and a regular contender in the 2A Northern Region Championships.

Senior hitter Jessica Rickman led the Warriors with eight kills, two blocks and three aces. Tina Hordzwick had five kills.

“I felt we played pretty good,” Hordzwick said. “I think we got overexcited about winning and it screwed with our mind a little bit.”

After the Vikings clearly dominated in game one, the Warriors won the next two games 15-11.

The Vikings regrouped and came out strong in game four with a 6-0 lead.

Shortly after, the Vikings gave up nine straight points to allow Whittell to lead 9-7. The Vikings regrouped to tie it 9-9.

At 12-12, with victory in the Warriors’ eyes, the Vikings pulled out three more points to tie the match at two games apiece.

Rachel Hankoff, who led the Vikings with 13 kills, two blocks and four service aces, led the pivotal charge in game five with conservative play and savvy serving.

At one point, Whittell climbed to within three at 9-6, but the Vikings maintained their lead throughout to eventually win 15-8.

“We didn’t play well. It’s the story of South Tahoe,” said Hankoff, frustrated that his team didn’t play up to its potential.

“Whittell played well. I think we brought their level of play up.”

McLaughlin said the Warriors were on the winning road until the game turned on what he described as a bad call at the net.

The side out gave the ball to the Vikings in game four when they needed it.

“We played well in the middle of the game and we had a couple tough calls go against us in the end and it took the momentum away from us,” he said.

McLaughlin said he would like to play South Tahoe again and would like to play against other teams of their caliber.

“We gave them the kind of game they needed going into zone,” McLaughlin added. “We played well enough to win.”

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