Incline volleyball: Highlanders punch ticket to state
Division III state championship
Henderson — Nov. 13-14
(1) Yerington vs. (2) Meadows, Friday 2:30 p.m.
(1) White Pine vs. (2) Incline, Friday 4:20 p.m.
State final, Saturday 10 a.m.
The Incline volleyball team is peaking at just the right time.
After a 1-5 start to the season, including consecutive losses to begin league play, the Highlanders won their final 10 matches of the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in the Northern Division III regional championships at Yerington on Saturday.
Incline opened with a win in four sets over third-seeded rival North Tahoe in the semifinal round, 25-13, 25-14, 20-25, 25-18, which set up a date with two-time defending state champion Yerington in the regional final.
The Lions narrowly edged the Highlanders in five sets, 25-17, 14-25, 21-25, 25-9, 15-13, to secure the regional title and top state seed. Incline will head to the state tournament in Henderson this Friday as the No. 2 seed from the North.
“The team performed very well,” said Incline coach Tacy Kelly, whose Highlanders (12-6 overall, 10-2 league) split their two regular-season meetings with the Lions (27-12, 11-1). “From the first match of the season until now, they’re a different team. They really came together. This is probably the most team-oriented group I’ve ever had.”
Incline fed off the high-caliber play of senior middle blocker Kira Porter, who tallied 45 kills, 19 blocks and seven service aces in two matches. She had 27 kills and 10 blocks in the regional final.
“Kira is on fire,” Kelly said. “The whole team rose to the occasion and played well. We just made a few too many mistakes (against Yerington) that gave them points.”
The Lions had their own dominant force on the other side of the net in senior Kassidy Lommori, who posted 20 kills against the Highlanders.
In addition to Porter, Incline’s Ellyse Kirkland finished with eight kills and 14 serve returns, Molly Racich had seven kills and three blocks, Mia Bibolet had five kills and three blocks, and Jessica George had 17 digs. Junior setter Keegan Wells amassed 47 assists in the five-set match, while Porter added 10 digs, 10 serve returns and four aces, and Madeleine Saxe, Racich and Wells each had three aces.
Porter warmed up earlier in the day with 18 kills, three aces and nine blocks against the Lakers. Kirkland had nine kills, Racich had seven kills and three aces, Wells had 38 assists and three aces, Bibolet had three aces and four blocks, and Saxe had four aces, three blocks and 10 digs.
With the No. 2 state seed, the Highlanders will open the state tournament against top Southern seed White Pine on Friday at 4:20 p.m. White Pine, which eliminated Incline in five sets in last year’s state semifinal, enters state with a 27-1 record.
“We’re going in like they’re Yerington. We’re expecting them to be really good” said Kelly, adding that the five Incline players who were part of last year’s state semifinal have not forgotten about that heartbreaking loss. “It’s going to be a solid fight as long as all my girls show up, which they should. They’re pretty pumped up for it and very focused.”
Kelly said Incline last won the state volleyball title in 1984.
“We’re jazzed,” she said. “We’re ready to go down there and hopefully bring home a state title.”
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