VEGAS INVITATIONAL: Hammel, Bengals build confidence by reaching title match

Bree Hammel doesn’t just want to leave her mark on Bonanza’s girls volleyball program.

She wants to be the best player in Nevada.

The senior outside hitter looked the part Saturday.

Hammel led the Bengals to the championship match of the Las Vegas Invitational, then had 11 kills and 12 digs in the title loss to Westlake (Calif.), 25-21, 25-23 at Las Vegas High.

It’s quite the leap from last year’s finish, when Bonanza was relegated to the lower Bronze Division before limping into the Sunset Region playoffs.

“This has been a great comeback,” said Hammel, who also had 12 kills, 14 digs and three blocks in a semifinal win over Spanish Springs. “We’ve never had this great of a showing.

“Losing to one California team isn’t going to ruin our day.”

Hammel and junior middle blocker Vasati Fiatoa nearly overcame a 19-13 deficit in the second set, tying the match at 23-23 on a Westlake hitting error after Fiatoa’s block salvaged a point.

Westlake senior Courtney Birkett then calmly put down back-to-back kills to rally the Mariners to the title.

The Bengals finished as the top local team in the tournament. Green Valley advanced to the Gold Division semifinals before falling to Westlake.

“Our team is such a family,” Hammel said. “It’s crazy how far we went; every single game we won, we were like, ‘This is crazy.’ We had never been this far. We’re breaking the Bonanza curse.”
Westlake started hot in the first set, jumping out to a 6-1 lead behind back-to-back aces by Shawna Korshavn.

With the Mariners holding a 20-13 lead in the first set, the Bengals tallied four quick kills by Rykki Rudd, Lauren Karn and Hammel to pull within three. But Westlake finished off the first set by scoring five of the final nine points.

Hammel pulled Bonanza to a 7-7 tie early in the second set, but an unassisted kill by Korshavn ignited the Mariners to a 17-13 lead, and they held off the late rally.

Hammel, the Bengals’ top returner, has stepped up as a leader at the start of her senior year, Bonanza coach Jared Wilkinson said.

“She’s really come in with a different attitude,” he said. “At team camp this summer, we talked to her about what it means to lead the team and how she needs to do more than just hit the ball … I don’t think there’s anyone who can match up with her athleticism, and now that she has the desire to develop the technical side of her game, she’s going to become unstoppable.”

Karn dished out 20 assists for the Bengals, who finished 4-0 in a pool play campaign that included a 25-23, 25-21 win over Westlake.

Jessica Wilcox supplied eight kills and 10 digs for Bonanza, and teammate Christina Angarola supplied 10 digs.

“The girls have really gotten the vision now that we are one of those teams,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve beaten pretty much everybody before (in scrimmages, etc).

“The belief is there. We have the athleticism, we have the size, and now we’re just ready to get it done.”

Birkett and Julia Mannisto each had five kills for Westlake.

Korshavn was named tournament most valuable player, and Birkett and Mannisto joined her on the all-tournament team.

Hammel and Wilcox also earned all-tournament honors, along with Green Valley’s Carly Scheiss.

Faith Lutheran 2, Pahrump Valley 0 Kelsey McCourt dished out 16 assists as the Crusaders rolled to a 25-11, 25-16 win over the Trojans.

Sam Leonard added six kills, and Christina Portaro served three aces for Faith Lutheran.

Faith Lutheran 2, Arbor View 1 — Portaro had seven kills and four aces to help the Crusaders outlast the Aggies, 25-21, 21-25, 15-8 in the opening round of bracket play.

McCourt added 16 assists and seven digs, and Courtney Hansen supplied seven digs for Faith Lutheran.

Bonanza 2, Faith Lutheran 0 — Bonanza moved into the Gold Division semifinals by sweeping the Crusaders, 25-22, 25-12.

McCourt paced Faith Lutheran with nine assists and seven digs, and teammate Lindsay Flangas supplied three kills.

Coronado 2, Calvary Chapel 0 — Coronado captured the Copper Division title with a 25-18, 25-16 win over the Lions.

Brettani Davis paced Calvary Chapel with 24 digs. Brooke Davis added eight digs, three assists and two kills, and Deja Harris supplied eight kills and three blocks for Calvary Chapel.

Calvary Chapel 2, Basic 0 — Harris’ 14 kills propelled the Lions into the Copper final with a 25-22, 25-13 sweep of the Wolves.

Brooke Davis added 11 assists and seven digs, and Brettani Davis had eight digs and three aces for Calvary Chapel.

Athena Lewis contributed five digs for the Lions.

Calvary Chapel 2, Pahrump Valley 0 — Harris registered 12 kills, and Brooke Davis added 11 assists and six digs to help the Lions down the Trojans, 25-23, 25-16.

Brettani Davis chipped in four digs, four aces and two kills, and Caitlyn Chamberlin supplied five digs for the Lions.

Palo Verde 2, Calvary Chapel 0 — The Panthers swept the Lions, 25-7, 25-22 in the opening round of bracket play.

Brettani Davis had 12 digs for Calvary Chapel. Brooke Davis added five assists and four digs, and McKenna Beckwith chipped in four digs and three kills for the Lions.

Las Vegas 2, Calvary Chapel 0 — In morning pool play, the host school posted a 25-16, 25-15 win.

Harris spiked seven kills, and Brettani Davis had eight digs and three aces for the Lions.

Calvary Chapel 2, Legacy 0 — In a morning match, Brettani Davis racked up 13 digs and eight aces to the Lions past the Longhorns, 25-15, 25-16.

Brooke Davis added eight digs, eight assists and four kills for Calvary Chapel. Harris supplied five kills, and Lewis contributed five digs for the Lions.

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