Defending 1A state champions Pahranagat Valley get an early start on the volleyball season, a week sooner than the football team, as they participate Aug. 23-24 in a preseason tournament in Ely at White Pine High School.

Coach Milly Walch will need to replace cousins Hannah Castleton and Morgan Harris, who both graduated last year.

Harris was co-Most Valuable Player in the Southern League last year in the Panther’s state championship run.

Walch, a player herself 20 years ago for legendary coach Ginger Whipple, took over coaching duties in 2018 upon Whipple’s retirement and led the team to an 18-7 mark, winning their eighth straight Southern Regional title and record 20th state championship.

“We have two seniors on the team this year,” Walch said, “Kami Stirling and Kenzi Poulsen. We will look to them to lead the team as we are young and will need experienced players to help us accomplish what we need to this season. We have three full months to develop this young team.”

Poulsen was a First Team All-Southern League selection last season. The team will also look to junior Rebecca Taylor, who was Second Team All Southern League last year. “She’s an all-around solid competitor,” said Walch.

The coach is also looking to the talent of freshman Mikelle Stewart.

Others key players Walch will rely on are Sunny Rasmussen, a blocking specialist. 

Junior Becca Back and sophomore Kelly Miller will provide the Lady Panthers’ outside hitting power.

Pahranagat Valley High School begins play with a full slate of non-league games, starting with this weekend’s tournament. 

They have two matches, a home-and-home schedule, with Enterprise, Utah. The Wolves were the 2A Utah state runners-up in 2018. The teams have not played each other since 2010.

The Lady Panthers open league play in the eight-team 1A Southern League with Indian Springs Oct. 4 in Alamo.