Undefeated White Pine defeats Pahranagat Valley in five close sets
During a pivotal point in the fifth and final set of White Pine’s game against Pahranagat Valley Tuesday night, a Panther player moved in the wrong direction on the volleyball court, thinking a teammate would move in behind her to pass the ball. But there was no teammate there and White Pine won the point.
Visibly frustrated by the mistake, the Panthers head coach Ginger Whipple asked the student athlete why she was confused.
“It’s so loud in here I couldn’t hear you! I didn’t know she went out!” the player shouted back to the coach.
That was the level of noise inside the White Pine High School gymnasium Tuesday evening as shirtless male students with “GO WP LADYCATS!” painted one letter at a time on their chests yelled and jumped in the stands. The energy was both necessary and effective, as the Ladycats bounced back in the final set to win 15-13 in what their head coach Kenna Almberg called their “toughest test” so far into the season.
“That was definitely our hardest fought battle yet. The crowd was fantastic and made it really fun,” Almberg said. “We knew going into the game that they were good and we were expecting it to be tough, and I’m glad we proved that we can win those kind of games.”
While the Panthers were not a league game for the Ladycats, Almberg stressed that it was important for her team to find out what they were really capable of by going against a challenging opponent.
Senior Emily Bischoff impressed the coach with her 12 kills and strong defensive effort through the 2 and a half hour five set match. Bischoff said that hearing the home crowd come alive helped her and her teammates stay energized through the back and forth match.
The senior said that the close game was “really nerve wracking” but that she was “never scared.”
“I knew that we could do it, that we could get a win. But in close games like that you do get nervous,” Bischoff said.
While the Ladycats pulled out the win, Almberg did see some things that she will work with the team on in practice, including how to try and turn an “off set” into something good on offense.
“We were struggling with that a bit. When a set was off we were just swinging away and hitting some balls out of bounds that we could’ve maybe scored on,” Almberg said.
The Ladycats also found mixed results with their serving game, mixing aces with balls hit into the net for a free point for the other team. According to the coach, that is to be expected as the team has moved this season towards a more risk reward approach.
“We are trying to be more aggressive with our serves,” Almberg said. “With that you are going to get more aces and more misses. But we knew that going in.”
The coach said after the game that she feels good with where her team sits at 13-0 on the season and 4-0 in league play. She also looks forward to seeing Pahranagat Valley again for a rematch when the Ladycats go on the road to play them again in late October. They will stay at home this weekend for a Sept. 25 game against Mountain View, starting at 6 p.m.