Shadow Ridge girls volleyball coach Karissa Guthrie wanted to see her team grow this weekend against the top programs in the country while playing in the Durango Fall Classic.
When the tournament was finally over, Guthrie was pleased with the improvement her team made. The Mustangs were the top local finishers, placing 35th overall and taking third place in the Classic Division at Palo Verde High School.
“We definitely got better at some things over the weekend and that is what matters,” Guthrie said. “We are getting better and are working out the kinks from preseason.”
Guthrie also used the tournament to get all of her players some experience and take a look at different lineups featuring her 11 returning letter winners from last season before the Mustangs start their Class 4A Sunset League schedule Tuesday.
“I got all my players in this weekend. I was able to see different people out there, and we played some different combinations to see who plays well next to each other,” she said.
The Mustangs started the tournament Friday against Assumption High School of Louisville, Ky., one of the top teams in the nation and the eventual tournament champion, by getting swept 25-13, 25-12. After defeating Moapa Valley, Shadow Ridge would lose again to Johns Creek of Georgia.
Despite the rough start, the Mustangs rebounded and had a strong showing Saturday, which was one of the improvements Guthrie was happy to see from her team.
“They’re kind of a little gritty, even the ones we lost, we fought to the end,” she said. “One or two points could have gone either way. We showed a little bit of grit and heart this weekend. We were excited to get the opportunity to play Assumption the first day. It didn’t go our way, but it was a fun match to play against some of the top-level players in the country.”
The Mustangs started Saturday defeating Coronado 25-17, 20-25, 25-19 to advance to the tournament’s Classic Division. Senior Whittnee Nihipali led the Mustangs with six kills, two blocks, 11 digs and two aces. Senior Madyson Lousignont added four aces, four kills and one block.
The Mustangs then swept Notre Dame Belmont of California 25-17, 25-12 to advance to the division semifinals. Lousignont had four aces, seven kills and two blocks, and junior Alysha Smith had three aces and dished out 21 assists.
Shadow Ridge would then fall to La Salle High School of Pasadena, California, 23-25, 23-25. Nihipali had nine kills, and senior Kizzy Rodriguez had four kills, two blocks and 13 digs.
The Mustangs claimed third place in their division by defeating El Dorado High School of Placentia, California, 25-15, 25-15. Nihipali had seven kills to lead the Mustangs.
Nihipali finished Saturday’s action with 22 kills, three blocks, three aces and 11 digs.
“Whittnee always does some good things for us,” Guthrie said. “She is looking to step up to be a good leader. She has always been humble and continues to be humble. She is trying to step up her leadership capability as a senior because she wants to lead her team.
“Everyone did some good things at different times. We played pretty consistent all the way through.”