Smith Valley had been hoping for a rematch with Pahranagat Valley in the girls Division IV volleyball state tournament this year. They got it and took full advantage, sweeping the Panthers 3-0 to win the state title for the first time since 1981.
The loss kept Pahranagat Valley from winning a third straight state championship. This was the third year in a row they had faced Smith Valley.
At the same time it was a record 21st year in a row PVHS appeared in the title game and they have won 16.
As reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, one of the strengths of Pahranagat Valley’s girls volleyball team this season has been its ability to close out sets with a flourish.
But it was the Panthers’ inability to polish off Smith Valley that cost them Saturday.
Pahranagat Valley was unable to hold on to leads late in the first and third sets and dropped a 25-22, 25-18, 25-23 decision to the Bulldogs at Foothill High in Henderson.
“We’ve done that all year as far as being able to close,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ginger Whipple said. “That’s not normal for us, but they just had the answer for everything today.”
Karley Whipple had eight kills, 17 digs and two aces, and Gracie Carter added seven kills, four digs and one ace for the Panthers (25-7).
Senior Kellie Rogaczewski powered Smith Valley (32-2-2) with 13 kills and seven blocks.
Pahranagat Valley led for most of the first set and was up 19-15 following Alyson Egbert’s tip. Madison Harris’ kill around the block of Rogaczewski put the Panthers on top 22-21, but Smith Valley, aided by two hitting errors from the Panthers, scored the final four points to win the set.
The second set was knotted at 10 when Rogaczewski rotated into the front row and had four kills and two blocks to help the Bulldogs go up 22-13. Pahranagat Valley got as close as 23-18 before a kill by Rogaczewski put the Panthers two sets down.
“I was asking girls to do things they haven’t done all year,” Whipple said. “Smith Valley just came to play. They were ready. They flowed, and we just struggled and played catch up, catch up and more catch up. We had way too many errors. Too many mistakes; too many balls in the net.”
Pahranagat Valley led 9-4 in the third set following a kill by Egbert, and a string of tough serves from Karley Whipple helped the Panthers take a 22-16 advantage. But once Rogaczewski again rotated up front, the Panthers were unable to hold on.
Consecutive kills by Rogaczewski cut Pahranagat Valley’s lead to 22-19, and the Bulldogs tied the set at 23. Tonia Covarrubias’ kill put Smith Valley ahead by one point, and, fittingly, Rogaczewski ended it on match point.
Allyse Frehner had 14 assists, and Brook Higbee added 13 digs and one ace for Pahranagat Valley.
“We relaxed a little bit, but when you lose those close ones like the first and the third set, it’s disappointing,” Ginger Whipple said. “But some days, it’s just not meant to be. I’m still proud of them.”
The Lady Panthers had dispatched Owyhee 3-0 in the semifinals on Friday by scores of 25-13, 25-13 and 27-25. Smith Valley beat Beatty 3-0 in the other semifinal.