PREP VOLLEYBALL: Yerington wins 2A title in 4 games
RENO – A second-game victory by underdog Whittell got Yerington’s attention in the Nevada 2A state volleyball finals Saturday afternoon at Bishop Manogue High.
The Lions dropped a game to the Warriors for the first time in five matches this season, but rebounded to win the title in four games, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18 and 25-18.
It was Yerington’s fourth state championship in five years and first as a Nevada 2A member.
“Just the feeling of knowing that last year we lost (in the finals), and it was not a good feeling. It just pumped us all up, and we came out stronger,” said Yerington 5-foot-11 junior Makenna Lommori, one of the state’s top players.
Whittell (14-12 overall record) was making its eighth straight appearance in the 2A championship match, including six-consecutive titles from 2003-2008.
Yerington (36-1) rallied to win the opening game after falling behind 13-11. Lommori served three aces during a six-point run that put the Lions on top to stay, 17-13. After the Warriors made a late run to pull within 22-19, several unforced errors and a Lommori kill ended the opener.
“They did play us tougher,” Lommori said. “We knew they were going to come out stronger because they have been practicing for us.”
Whittell had an answer in Game 2. With high-leaping junior Darby Reeder finding the range with hits down the line and across court, the Warriors bolted to a 9-3 lead. Megan Mize provided another hitting option for the Warriors later in the game as Yerington rallied to get as close as four points. Mize delivered a block and kill to rebuild the Whittell lead to 15-8, and an Arianna Miller kill down the line, an ace by Nina Jimenez and a Marissa Besson kill put the Warriors ahead 17-9. Despite some late-game power and finesse by Lommori and Brooke Aiazzi, Whittell evened the match on a spike by Mize.
“We thought anything could happen from the opening point of the match,” said Whittell coach Nate Byrne. “These girls have so much fight in them and keep us in every point.”
The Lions looked to make a route of Game 3, building an 8-1 lead behind some passing errors by Whittell and two aces by Amber Veil. But Whittell came back to go in front 11-9 as Reeder and sophomore Amanda Harris combined for six kills.
The teams traded points until Maddie Hull-Taylor’s kill put Yerington ahead for good, 18-17. Several two-hit infractions and a lift extended Yerington’s lead to 22-17. Aiazzi and Lommori put away the next two points, and the game ended with a Whittell hitting error.
The fourth game was nearly identical to the previous game as Yerington capitalized on Whittell mistakes to forge in front, 10-3. Whittell again battled back, getting as close as 14-11 on an ace by Jimenez and later at 19-16. A lift and a long hit gave Yerington some breathing room at 21-16. Lommori took over, scoring on a kill and block to made the score 23-16 and Katie Nicholas brought the Lions to match point with a block of her own.
Whittell showed its moxie by scoring the next two points – one a kill by Reeder – but Yerington took care of the third championship point.
Byrne said Yerington’s experience came through with the match on the line.
“They have been playing together a long time, and those times in the match, that is very crucial … to know who your big hitter is and your go-to is. Those are things you just learn from playing together,” Byrne said.
Lommori said the Lions will be looking to repeat their 2A title next fall.
“We’re losing four seniors that are going to be crucial, but we have been together ever since we were little,” said Lommori, one of eight juniors who will be back for the Lions.