Pahranagat Valley’s Halie Lewis could not have picked a better way to end her prep volleyball career.
The senior outside hitter was nearly unstoppable Saturday, leading the Panthers to a convincing 25-16, 25-22, 25-14 win over Tonopah in the Class 1A championship match at Chaparral.
The championship was a state-record 15th for the Panthers, who entered the match as two-time defending champions.
“This is way cool,” said Lewis, who finished with 22 kills and ended the match with back-to-back aces. “I’ve been part of the last three, and it’s been really fun.”
Panthers coach Ginger Whipple, who watched Lewis and senior outside hitter Kyla Mortensen play their final match for Pahranagat Valley, said she’s going to miss her standout players.
“You hate to say goodbye,” said Whipple, whose squad defeated Tonopah 3-1 in the regional tourney last week. “It’s premium if you have one good outside hitter, and we have two.”
The Panthers (33-2) wasted no time establishing the tempo, jumping to a 3-0 lead in the first set. The Muckers (26-12) battled back and managed to keep the score close until Lewis capped an 11-5 scoring spurt with one of her eight kills in the set to give Pahranagat Valley a 16-8 lead.
After losing the first set, Tonopah regrouped to take a 3-0 lead in the second. That didn’t last long, as the Panthers tied the score at 5 and pulled away late.
Whipple said her players learned to exploit the weaknesses the Muckers showed in the regionals.
“I think Tonopah played us a little better in regionals,” said Whipple, whose squad did not lose a set in the state tourney. “Today we were able to hit it in places where they didn’t dig last week.”
The rout continued in the third set, as the Panthers used an 8-2 run to build a 15-9 lead. Lewis added seven more kills in the set, and appropriately served the last two points to win it.
“This never gets old,” said Whipple, whose team qualified for the title match by sweeping Sierra Lutheran on Friday. “For us, this has kind of become a tradition, and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. It gives the girls extra confidence.”
Mortensen finished with 14 kills and six digs for Pahranagat Valley. Kimberly Lewis (23 assists, seven digs), Kennedy Huntsman (12 assists) and Tracy Strong (five digs) also contributed.
Deanna Van Poucke led Tonopah with nine kills.