Incline volleyball: Highlanders fall to Lions in Division III state championship
The Incline volleyball team fought its way to the Division III state championship in Henderson on Saturday — making the Highlanders’ 2015 season the most successful in 31 years.
The run ended there, however, as top-seeded Yerington pulled off the win in four sets, 25-20, 25-22, 17-25, 25-10, to secure its third consecutive state title, and eighth in 10 years.
“We did a lot of really good things this year. It definitely was a successful season,” said Incline coach Tacy Kelly, whose team posted a final record of 13-7 overall.
Incline, which entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from the North, needed its A-game to get past the No. 1 seed from the South, White Pine, in the semifinal round Friday.
In a rematch of last year’s state semifinal won by White Pine, the Highlanders paid back the Bobcats with a hard-fought win in five sets, 20-25, 25-14, 25-17, 21-25, 15-7.
“It went back and forth. It was pretty exciting,” Kelly said of the match. “We went in there fired up; we knew it was going to be a fight.”
Incline senior Kira Porter led the way with 18 kills and six blocks. Madeleine Saxe tallied seven kills and six service aces, Ellyse Kirkland had four kills and three aces, Molly Racich had three kills and two aces, Jessica George had three aces and 10 digs, and Mia Bibolet had four kills. Junior setter Keegan Wells finished with 37 assists.
The victory set up a fourth meeting of the season against the perennial power Lions, who defeated the Highlanders in five sets in the regional championship to earn the top Northern seed. Incline, however, was the only DIII team to hand Yerington a defeat this season — in four sets on Oct. 16.
Yerington’s experience won out in the final showdown.
“We didn’t start out running at the gate,” Kelly said. “Yerington watched us against White Pine and they were able to prepare a little more. And I think they just have more experience.”
Porter finished with 12 kills and five blocks, Racich posted 10 kills and two aces, and Kirkland had four kills and six digs. Wells added six kills and 34 assists, George had nine digs, and Saxe had two kills and three aces.
Yerington senior Kassidy Lommori, who split All-League MVP honors with Porter, finished with a match-high 19 kills and 14 digs to help lead the Lions to a final record of 29-12 overall.
While the Highlanders are set to lose three seniors to graduation — Porter, Bibolet and Arelly Camacho — they return five juniors, three sophomores and one freshman and should be a force in the coming years, Kelly said: “I’m a firm believer that we’ll be back next year, and for the next several years.”