Nevada volleyball wins on Senior Night

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Nevada senior Bree Reppert swings for a kill during Monday night's win over Lamar.

By Eric Wade

Daily Mail Sports Editor

Senior Night is always a bittersweet occasion for any athlete and coach, especially at the high school level. The Nevada Lady Tigers varsity volleyball team and head coach Ashley Thoreson learned that firsthand Monday night, when they hosted the Lamar Lady Tigers on just that occasion.

Prior to Monday night's varsity volleyball match against Lamar, Nevada Lady Tigers seniors Alisha Conner, Bree Reppert and Brooklyn Ryan were honored for their contributions to the program over the course of their careers.

"It was emotional," Thoreson said. "You know, it's a great group of seniors."

"We're really going to miss them next year. I'm hoping the season doesn't get over for a while because they've really been a great group to coach. You know, we can count on all three of them to play their best."

The emotions of the night seemed to get to the Lady Tigers just a bit, as they were forced to battle through a number of uncharacteristic struggles, but Thoreson's squad was ultimately able to come out on top, anyway, in the quickest match the Lady Tigers have played all season long. The Lady Tigers needed just a little bit more than 40 minutes to pick up the victory by the final scores of 25-19 and 25-11.

"It was a pretty quick night," Thoreson said.

Things got off to a rocky start in the match for the home team as Lamar took advantage of some early communication and hitting troubles to score two of the first three points of the match. The Lady Tigers weren't out of it, by any means, however, as they went on to score the next four points to take command of the set.

Despite struggling to find a rhythm throughout the remainder of the set, the Lady Tigers ultimately held on to take the six-point victory.

"You know, there's a lot going on on Senior Night, so I always worry a little about how focused they are when they come out," Thoreson said. "But we got the job done and that's what the good teams do."

That lack of focus was even further complicated as the match went on when Thoreson was forced to send her best hitter, Rilie Good, to the bench. Though Good was still trying to do the same things she has done all year and had some early success, she was forced to sit out most of the match due to an injury.

The new look that gave the Lady Tigers for a good portion of the match turned out to not be a bad thing, however, as it gave Thoreson a chance to bring a new face into the lineup. That new face, Mindy Hendren, picked right up where Good left off and finished with a more than productive night.

"Rilie hurt her shoulder a in warm-up, so I was able to let Mindy get in and you know, just play a little bit and get comfortable on the court," Thoreson said. "And she did a great job on the front row."

As the second set wore on, it became increasingly clear who the better team was on the court. Though the Lady Tigers still couldn't seem to get over their communication and hitting struggles, Lamar simply couldn't do anything with what turned out to be the truly dominant factor in the match -- Nevada's serving.

By the time all was said and done, the Lady Tigers finished the night with a staggering total of 10 ace serves.

"That might be a high for the season," Thoreson said. "We served pretty aggressive."

That serving proved to be especially troublesome for the opposition in the second set as more than half of those 10 aces came in that set alone. Lamar simply couldn't make the adjustment at any point during the match and that ultimately proved to be head coach Ann Landrum's squad's undoing.

After opening the set on a 7-0 run, the Lady Tigers never did let up, ultimately taking a 14-point victory to close out the match.

Though Thoreson did say she saw a few things that didn't quite make her as happy as she would have liked to be, there were a few bright spots in the match. The most significant of those is another star who kept right up with her usual dominance in Good's absence, Morgan McNeley.

Though McNeley didn't quite show as much aggression at the net as fans have become accustomed to seeing, she did show a lot of vision, leadership and intelligence on the court, Thoreson said.

"She's been seeing the other side of the court really well," Thoreson said of the junior. "She takes a lot of attempts and is really learning to see the other side of the court to know where to put the ball."

Despite playing hurt, Good led the Lady Tigers with eight kills in the contest, while McNeley finished with a team-high 26 assists. Brooklyn Ryan led the Lady Tigers with 16 digs, while she and Emman Denman each served three aces.

The Lady Tigers' junior varsity squad was in action on the night as well, and came out of the match with nearly identical results to those of the varsity. Coach Megan Krogen's JV Lady Tigers defeated Lamar in two sets, by the final scores of 25-12 and 25-18.

With the win, the Lady Tigers' varsity squad improved to 23-7-1 with just one regular-season match left on the schedule. That match is scheduled for Thursday, when Thoreson's varsity Lady Tigers will once again team up with Krogen's JV squad and head back out on the road to take on the Lady Blackhawks of Adrian High School.

After that match, the Lady Tigers will begin final preparations for the Class 3, District 12 Tournament, in which they earned the No. 4 seed. The Lady Tigers will open the tournament on Oct. 28, when they take on the Lady Wildcats of Harrisonville High School, inside Wynn Gymnasium.

That match is scheduled to be the first of four on the tournament's opening night and will begin at 5 p.m.

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