In 2014 veteran coach Ginger Whipple said the Pahranagat Valley girls were “young and inexperienced.”
With only four returning lettermen at the time, Whipple had commented, “Our setter is a junior with very little time in that position, and my outside hitters as of now will be a freshman and sophomore without varsity experience.”
But that junior setter, Brook Higbee, became the league co-MVP along with teammate senior Jamie Hansen, and the Lady Panthers went on to surprise everyone (except themselves), and capture a second straight NIAA Division IV state championship.
Higbee figures to be a cornerstone of the team again this year.Pahranagat Valley freshman Karley Whipple and sophomore Allyse Frehner were also named to the First-Team All-Stars with sophomores Alyson Egbert and Madison Harris on second team. All return for another year.
The Lady Panthers were 24-8 in 2014 and finished the season with a seven-match win streak through the state tournament.
Whipple returns for her 33rd year as head coach, (but it might be even longer than that, she says she just doesn’t know), and is now enjoying coaching her own granddaughter. In those 30 some years, she has gathered a record 17 state championships, including 12 of the last 15.
“We still have a young team, however another year’s experience will give them the confidence they lacked last year,” she said. “We expect our only senior, Brook Higbee, to lead this team and keep them focused, as young teams tend to lack that ability.”
Frehner, a junior (239 assists), Karley Whipple, a sophomore (114 kills, 55 digs) and Harris, a junior (72 kills), also are expected to contribute. “We are preparing to be competitive in our league and hope to continue our appearance in the postseason,” Whipple said.
Higbee said she is, “Excited to be the leader on the court and help the girls out on the court. They’re awesome, and I love playing with them.”
Division IV, with 10 teams, is the largest league in southern Nevada, so the teams play each other just once for league double-headers, instead of home and home play.
Pahranagat, as well as Lincoln County, open the preseason this weekend at the White Pine Invitational in Ely.
Since 2007, the teams the Panthers seem to have the most trouble with have been Division III schools Calvary Chapel and Lake Mead Academy. They are 9-7 against Calvary and 9-8 with Lake Mead. However, unless they meet in preseason invitational tournament play, PVHS does not have either team on their schedule this season.
Surprisingly, in that same time period, the girls have a 13-2 mark against in-county rival Lincoln County, and they will meet in non-league home-and-home matches this season.
Alamo’s first home match is with Virgin Valley on Sept. 10.