It was a sudden end to the White Pine High volleyball season last Friday at the 2A state tournament at Faith Lutheran High. The excitement of a 25-20 first set win over powerful Southern regional champion The Meadows was tempered by a letdown in the second set, and then losing the next two, to drop the semifinal match 3-1.
White Pine coach Kenna Almberg said, “We came out strong to take the first set, and we have had trouble getting started, so it was exciting to do that.” But afterwards, the Mustangs showed their dominate strength and won the next three sets 9-25, 12-25, 19-25 to take the match, winning on Emil Ebel service ace which fell untouched to the floor in front court.
Almberg said for White Pine there are some people that “showed real good leadership and I was pretty proud of that. Brittany Kingston, Maryn Van Tassell and Kelsi Stork and how hard they worked all season.”
She thought the girls let a little bit of fear get in the way of the second set, which they lost 9-25. “And after losing the third set, we kind of lost the wind in our sails. Our serve-receive was not great this time. We just didn’t have quality passes, we got the ball up most of the time, but not good enough passes to really execute our offense.”
Nevertheless, with eight seniors on the squad, Almberg said it has been “a great group of kids with a lot of talent.”Losing sets is not something The Meadows is used to. They won almost all their league matches by a sweep, dropping a set to a Class 2A team (Calvary Chapel) just once all season.
After the opening-set loss to White Pine, the Mustangs were just more dominant. Beau Thistle led the way with 19 kills, and Dani Mason had 16 kills and 16 digs for the Mustangs. Mira Gollard had 36 assists, five aces and five digs, Anna Dorn had 17 digs, and Ebel added 11 digs in addition to her ace.
For the Ladycats, Nina Lopez had 10 kills in 36 attempts. Madison Rick also had 10 kills in 32 attempts. Hailey Ernest and Lopez both had 11 digs apiece. Kendra Thompson had 21 assists.
The Meadows (34-4-3) then won their fifth state championship in school history the next day, and first since 2009, beating Yerington (30-7) in a thrilling five-set match 3-2.
White Pine ended the year 27-6.
As a treat for her team, Almberg said she was taking her eight seniors to Tacoma this week to watch her daughter’s Mt. Hood Community College team play in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament.