Pahranagat Valley’s Ginger Whipple has been coaching volleyball for at least 35 seasons. She freely admits she really doesn’t know for sure.
And there has been speculation that the legendary coach might be stepping down in leading the Panthers’ program, although Whipple herself will not confirm that.
If Saturday was indeed her final game, the team gave her a sweet going-away present, a tidy three-game whipping 25-11, 25-19, 25-16 of Owyhee in the Class 1A final at Faith Lutheran and defending their state title.
It was a rematch of last year’s state final and Pahranagat beat Owyhee then, too, 3-0.
The Lady Panthers used a businesslike approach to dismantle the Braves in just under an hour.
Businesslike might be a very good assessment of the team this year. After league play began Sept. 21, the girls won 12 straight matches including some over larger schools in non-league action, and only lost two sets in that stretch.
Owyhee was not an exception.
“We went out there and played our game, not worrying about the opponent,” Whipple said. It was the 23rd consecutive season the Lady Panthers had played in the state championship final, which must be an NFHS national record.
Whipple said of the team’s game plan, “We know what we wanted to do. It was just a matter of going out there and executing.”
And execute is what the Panthers (21-11) did, led by Whipple’s senior granddaughter, Karley.
She turned in a workmanlike performance in her final high school match, finishing with 21 kills and 20 digs.
“I don’t care what anyone says. Winning never gets old,” she said about helping win the program’s 19th state championship under her grandmother’s leadership, definitely a state record. “She (Coach) can really be tough at times, but overall the experience has been one to remember. There’s no better feeling than winning a state title.”
Morgan Harris added 17 digs, 16 kills, and an ace. Ashlyn Wadsworth finished with 26 assists, 15 digs, and an ace, while Madalyn Taylor chipped in 21 assists and nine digs for Pahranagat Valley.
“We played some really tough teams to get ready for our league,” Whipple said. “I knew we were ready to play today, and it showed from the beginning.”
As far as the stepping down as coach questions, including those from Pahranagat Valley fans, Whipple had the same response.
“We have to wait and see,” she said. “Let’s enjoy this one.”
Owyhee, led by four kills each from Destany Pete and Rachel Gallego, finished the season at 19-7.
On Friday in the semifinals, Pahranagat had beaten Virginia City in three, 25-16, 25-18, 25-13 and Owyhee beat Tonopah 25-6, 25-5, 25-15.