For the first time since 2014, the White Pine High volleyball team was in the 2A state championship volleyball match last weekend at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas.
Although they lost the match, 3-1, to northern league rival Yerington, the same team as in 2104, it was getting to the finals that was the biggest story, the semifinal match against defending state champion The Meadows and a 3-1 win over the Mustangs.
Coach Kenna Almberg said, “We came out strong, Allie Thompson was on fire on offense with seven of her 22 total kills just in the first set. We moved the ball around more in the second set and all of our hitters were scoring points for a total of 41 for the match.
“Double blocking in the middle was helpful in slowing down Meadows offense with Jill Van Tassell claiming three of the team’s seven blocks. Karleigh Romero had a great defensive game, adding 11 more digs to her season total of 256. Madison Hendrickson contributed 22 assists during the match. We dropped the third set, but came back to take the fourth set and the match 3-1. Scores were 25-19, 25-16, 14-25, 25-19.”
This moved White Pine into the finals against Yerington, a team they had lost to 3-0 three times already this season.
Yerington had taken Calvary Chapel 3-0 in the other semifinal.
Almberg said, “It was a bit of deja vu as we prepared to face Yerington in the state championship match on Saturday.
We always struggle to play our best against them but this time we were neck-and-neck. About 4½ minutes into the first set with a score of 8-9 our senior setter, Madison Hendrickson, got hit in the mouth by another teammate’s elbow going for the same ball. It sent her to the emergency room for seven stitches in her lip and three loose teeth.
“I was afraid this would be devastating as Madi was not only one of our setters but a strong blocker and right side hitter, not to mention the team leader for service aces. I can’t even say how proud I am of our team for the way they stepped up and finished the first set losing only by 22-25.”
Almberg continued, “Everyone off the bench came in at some point to cover her position and I saw them perform better than they even knew they could. Olivia Hendrix really stepped up to the plate having to go to a 5-1 offense with her setting all around. This left us without her hitting from the right side where she typically scores a lot of points. Our defense was the best it’s ever been. Karleigh Romero and Maleana McKnight were picking anything up within reach. Allie Thompson and Mia Kemmler also got up a lot of digs for a team total of 85 digs. Our middle blockers, Rachael Jones and Jill Van Tassell, did a great job shutting down our opponents setter tips which had hurt us in previous matches. We lost the match 3-1, but did take the third set from them which was the first set we had beat them in all season.”
Final scores were 22-25, 15-25, 26-24, 15-25.
She added, “We finished the season as 2A State Champion runner-ups with a league record of 15-6 and an overall record of 32-7. We had five players recognized on the All-Division team. First Team – Allison Thompson.
Second Team – Jill Van Tassell and Madison Hendrickson.
Honorable Mention – Olivia Hendrix and Mia Kemmler.
“Our performance at the state tournament got us some recognition from the southern teams and we had four players mentioned on the All-State Team. Allison Thompson was voted offensive player of the year, Madison Hendrickson and Jill Van Tassell on First Team, and Mia Kemmler on Second Team.”