The Meadows’ Walsh named all-state volleyball MVP

The Meadows’ girls volleyball team never played on its home court this season, but that didn’t stop the Mustangs from adding hardware to their trophy case.

Construction limited the state champion Mustangs to playing road matches, as well as three “home” league matches at Calvary Chapel. 

“That was a big challenge for us, mentally,” The Meadows coach Stephanie Heller said. “We had a gym for practice, but everything was on the road. That tells you how mentally strong a team has to be.”

Laura Walsh was named the Class 2A All-State Most Valuable Player, and Mustangs teammates Kristyna Fong and Vanessa Hall were first-team selections.

“(Walsh) understands the game. She was an up-and-down player for us last year, and this year, she matured to be a great player,” Heller said. “She was our go-to in the last month of the season. She stepped up her defense and became a player that didn’t make a lot of mistakes down the stretch, at regionals and at state. That was the best she’s performed in her career, the last four weeks of the season.”

Fong averaged 5.6 kills per game in the postseason.

The Meadows defeated six-time state champion Whittell 3-1 in the state title match. It was the Mustangs’ first championship since 2002.

Whittell had three all-state first-team picks: Lauren Andrew, Isabel Concha-Foley and Darby Reeder. Pershing County’s Alyssa Holland and Michelle Montez and Lincoln County duo Marissa Smerek and Michelle Wheatley also received first-team honors.

ALL-SOUTHERN LEAGUE AWARDS — The Meadows didn’t win the Class 2A Southern League tournament title this year.
But the state champion Mustangs made up for it after a finals loss to Lincoln County, then added seven Class 2A Southern League All-League individual honors, including Defensive Player of the Year (won by libero Kristyna Fong) and Coach of the Year (won by Heller).

“(Fong is) a defensive player on our team that reads hitters’ arms very well,” Heller said of Fong. “She anticipates and she was always just there when we needed her in that spot. She made that second great contact on the ball. She was a player that coaches didn’t want to serve to … I think Kristyna is one of the best liberos in the Las Vegas Valley.”

Mustangs setter Vanessa Hall and outside hitter Laura Walsh were named to the all-league first team.

The Meadows’ Kathryn Chakmak and Sinead Lopez picked up all-league second-team honors.

Lincoln County’s Marissa Smerek was the 2A Southern League’s Offensive Player of the Year, and teammates Kori Gloeckner and Michelle Wheatley were also named to the first team.

Agassi Prep’s N’Dea Cottrell, Calvary Chapel’s Bri Ridley, Needles’ Holly Laswell and White Pine’s Catlin Ankey and Sam Hibbs rounded out the 2A Southern League all-league first team.

The Mustangs and the Lynx had a combined 12 players receive all-league honors.

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