Moving one player to a different position in a critical situation can have dire consequences, or it can work really well.
It worked really well for the White Pine High girls volleyball team last Saturday at the Division III Southern regional tournament in Agassi Prep. Starting senior middle blocker Debra Kingston was not in the lineup for the championship game with The Meadows.
So, senior outside hitter Ashlyn Huntington moved to the middle and did very well. In fact, her 24 kills and three aces led the Ladycats to a 25-21, 25-11, 24-26, 25-21 win over The Meadows for the Southern Division crown. Both teams qualify for the state tournament this weekend in Las Vegas.
“Ashlyn is a phenomenal athlete, said White Pine coach Kenna Almberg. “She has been on the varsity all four years, never sat the bench. And she had improved this year more than any other year. So, it’s pretty awesome for her to be able to do that.”
The Ladycats cruised to a two-set lead in the championship, but lost a little of their intensity in the third game, and The Meadows eventually took a 24-22 lead. Huntington, as she had done throughout the match, railed White Pine to a 24-all tie, but The Meadows broke her serve and scored the next two points for a 26-24 win.
“We needed a tough game like that,” Almberg said. “They just needed to play smarter. They started blocking us, so we had to do some different things and set up some different hitters.”
They made the adjustments, came back for a fourth game win, 25-21, and fittingly Huntington won the match with a forceful kill.
“It’s definitely exciting to be going to state,” Huntington said after the match.
Teammate Mikalyn Almberg had three aces and 22 blocks, Emily Bischoff had nine kills and Mikinley Prengel had six blocks.
White Pine had beaten Lincoln County 3-0 in the first semifinal game of the day, and The Meadows topped Calvary Chapel 3-1.
This weekend, White Pine (28-1) will play No. 2 Northern seed Incline (12-6) today at 4:30 p.m., and two-time defending state champion Yerington (27-12) will face The Meadows (18-11) at 2:30p.m.
The championship finals will be Saturday at Foothill High in Henderson 10 a.m.
Almberg said she is hoping to be able to meet Yerington in the finals again. Yerington won last year 3-0.
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