Team enters state championship tournament as top seed

The White Pine High School volleyball team celebrates after beating Meadows in the South Division III Championship game on Nov. 8. (Courtesy photo)

The White Pine High School volleyball team celebrates after beating Meadows in the South Division III Championship game on Nov. 8. (Courtesy photo)

It wasn’t easy, but the White Pine High School volleyball team found a way to win itsdivision with a dramatic come-from-behind victory.

Facing off against the TheMeadows private school from Las Vegas on Nov. 3 in the South League Division III championship game, the White Pine Ladycats fell behind early. After dropping their first game of a best-of-five 25-20 to the Mustangs, coach Kenna Almberg reminded her players of the the hard work it took to get to where they were.

“I told them that we didn’t come this far to only come this far,” Almberg said.

The team responded. The Ladycats won the next three games straight against the Mustangs by slim margins of 25-21, 25-23, 25-21 to claim the Southern League Division III title.

“They fought hard and they played hard,” the coach said. The team had previously defeated Calvary Chapel Christian in four games 22-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-19 earlier that same day in the semi-finals.

Though the two team captains, Ashyln Huntington and Jaden Ernest dominated most of the stats in the game against Meadows, it was Debra Kingston’s 11 blocks that stood out most to the coach.

“Before the game, we each set goals for ourselves to try and be successful. My goal was to own the net,” Kingston said of her performance. She had 20 blocks across the regular season.

The win means that the Ladycats will travel to Reno this weekend to compete for the state title. Ranked as the top team from the Southern League, the Ladycats will square off against the number two seeded Incline Highlanders on Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. If White Pine wins, they will get a chance to play for the state championship against the winner of the Yerington-Meadows game. Though they still have their work cut out for them against Incline, the thought of playing Yerington, a perennial powerhouse, for the trophy has Almberg excited.

“We have been preparing all year to play Yerington,” the coach said. “We’ve never beat Yerington. I’m actually very much looking forward to beating them in the state finals.”

The feeling is shared among the athletes on the team. Senior Ernest has been already running strategies in her head getting ready for the tournament and the possibility of playing Yerington.

“[Yerington] has one really good hitter so it will be all about getting into her head and shutting her down,” Ernest said.