By Gina Smith
November 15, 2011
With the school bus decorated with team spirit, the Pahranagat Valley Lady Panthers drove to Las Vegas last weekend to defend their volleyball state title. Seeded first going into the weekend proved to be a bonus for the team.
The first hurdle was to play Sierra Lutheran Friday for the invitation to go to the state final game. The PVHS ladies handled Sierra Lutheran quite well with a 3 games to 0 shutout. The scores were 25-10, 25-12 and 25-17.
On Saturday the team played the Tonopah Muckers for the state title. This title holds special meaning to the PVHS team. Not only would it be the 15th for the school, but it would also set a Nevada State record for the most state championships of all time. The ladies wrote their names in history with another 3 games to 0 shutout, 25-16, 25-22 and 25-14.
The Lady Panthers had a unique team this year. Not only was it graced with two heavy hitters, seniors Kyla Mortensen and Halie Lewis, but also had great support of a close-knit team. And Halie was especially close to one of her teammates, her sister, sophomore Kimberly (Kimmy) Lewis.
Long-time coach Ginger Whipple credits heavy hitting for leading them to the state championship. “Today was just hit away,” she said. “We have two big hitters, and the team put up work and they came through.”
Senior Halie Lewis expressed, “It’s especially exciting for me because this is the third one I was able to be a part of. It’s really cool, especially this year with my sister.” Having sisters on the team proved invaluable with numbers like Halie’s 22 kills and Kimmy 23 assists for the state championship game. The sisters are a match made in volleyball heaven, with Kimmy continually setting up her older sister for the kill.
The other heavy hitter for the team, Kyla Mortensen, had 14 kills and 6 digs for the game.
Having a close-knit community also is a big factor in this team’s success. This is spearheaded by the always encouraging eye Whipple, whether it’s giving clues throughout the game, cheering them or leading them with the directions. When asked how many years she has been coaching, she replied, “I don’t even know. As best as we can figure, it has been around 32 years.”
Her involvement with players starts early. “Absolutely, these kids start playing in grade school, and we have something to do with them all the way up through high school. It’s a close-knit community, everyone knows each other, and it is to our advantage.”
Is there more to come? With the great leadership and a young team, something tells me we haven’t seen the last greatness of PVHS Volleyball.