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Lincoln County girls top The Meadows to win Southern League volleyball tournament

Lincoln County’s girls went through the Class 2A Southern League regular volleyball season without a blemish on their record.

Nothing changed in the postseason, either.

The Lynx earned bragging rights as league champion with a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 win over The Meadows in the final Saturday at White Pine.

Both teams move on to the state tournament next week in Reno.

“After an undefeated season, you have expectations,” Lincoln County coach Ken Thornock said. “Did we play to the level we’re capable of? No, but the girls focused well.”

Thornock was pleased with the play of Marissa Smerek, who he said is one of the best volleyball players in Nevada, Kelbee Cheeney and Jaycie Cluff.

“It was a big team effort,” he said.

The Meadows didn’t walk away with the league trophy but still will move on after upsetting second-seeded White Pine on the Bobcats’ home floor, 26-24, 19-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-9.

The Meadows’ success largely was due to coach Stephanie Heller’s strategy to control White Pine’s two seniors.

“Our game plan going in against White Pine was that we had to shut down their No. 6 and No. 1,” Heller said.

The names behind the numbers are Alynna Ruesch and Oakley Almberg, the Ladycats’ two outside hitters. Ruesch’s warm-up shirt has “Licensed 2 Kill” on the back.

“We just played smart offense,” Heller said. “We know what our game plan is.”

Heller also was pleased with the play of Austin McMillan and the defensive efforts of Laura Walsh and Kristyna Fong.

“Kristyna Fong is honestly one of the best defensive players in the city of Las Vegas right now,” Heller said, adding that Fong easily could compete at the Class 4A level.

Lincoln County, which advanced to the final with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-18 win over reigning state runner-up Needles, will face North Tahoe in a state semifinal at 3:40 p.m. Friday in Reno.

The Meadows will meet five-time defending Class 2A state champion Whittell in the other semifinal at 5:20 p.m. Whittell and The Meadows have combined to win the last eight state titles.

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