One of the strengths of Pahranagat Valley’s girls volleyball team this season is its ability to close out sets with a flourish.
But it was the Panthers’ inability to polish off Smith Valley that cost them Saturday.
Pahranagat Valley was unable to hold on to leads late in the first and third sets and dropped a 25-22, 25-18, 25-23 decision to the Bulldogs in the Division IV state title game at Foothill.
“We’ve done that all year as far as being able to close,” Pahranagat Valley coach Ginger Whipple said. “That’s not normal for us, but they just had they answer for everything today.”
Karley Whipple had eight kills, 17 digs and two aces, and Gracie Carter added seven kills, four digs and one ace for the Panthers (25-7), who were seeking their third consecutive state title. Smith Valley lost to the Panthers in the past two state finals.
Kellie Rogaczewski powered Smith Valley (32-2-2) with 13 kills and seven blocks.
Pahranagat Valley led for most of the first set and was up 19-15 following Alyson Egbert’s tip. Madison Harris’ kill around the block of Rogaczewski put the Panthers on top 22-21, but Smith Valley, aided by two hitting errors from the Panthers, scored the final four points to win the set.
The second set was knotted at 10 when Rogaczewski rotated into the front row and had four kills and two blocks to help the Bulldogs go up 22-13. Pahranagat Valley got as close as 23-18 before a kill by Rogaczewski put the Panthers two sets down.
“I was asking girls to do things they haven’t done all year,” Ginger Whipple said. “Smith Valley came to play. They were ready. They flowed, and we just struggled and played catch up and catch up and catch up. We had way too many errors. Too many mistakes; too many balls in the net.”
Pahranagat Valley led 9-4 in the third set following a kill by Egbert, and a string of tough serves from Karley Whipple helped the Panthers take a 22-16 advantage. But once Rogaczewski rotated up front, the Panthers were unable to hold on.
Consecutive kills by Rogaczewski cut Pahranagat Valley’s lead to 22-19, and the Bulldogs tied the set at 23. Tonia Covarrubias’ kill put Smith Valley ahead by one point, and, fittingly, Rogaczewski terminated on match point.
Allyse Frehner had 14 assists, and Brook Higbee added 13 digs and one ace for Pahranagat Valley.
“We relaxed a little bit, but when you lose those close ones like the first and the third set, it’s disappointing,” Ginger Whipple said. “But some days, it’s just not meant to be. I’m still proud of them.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.