Family, faith drive Shadow Ridge volleyball star

Updated October 10, 2017 - 5:44 pm

Shadow Ridge senior volleyball player Whittnee Nihipali doesn’t stray from her postgame routine.

It brings her more joy than anything she accomplishes on the court. And she has accomplished a lot.

“Every day, after the game, I go up and I hug my dad. That’s my greatest memory (of volleyball),” Nihipali said. “Every game, he’s always there … That’s the highlight of my volleyball career.”

Family and faith have helped Nihipali become one of the state’s best players — a 6-foot-3-inch six-rotation hitter with devastating power and impregnable defense.

Utah State, UNLV, Loyola Marymount and UC-Davis recruited Nihipali, but she committed to play at Arizona instead on April 1 and is focused on leading the Mustangs (21-10) to that elusive state championship.

“Didn’t get it freshman, sophomore, or junior year,” she said. “Might as well do everything that I can, senior year, to get that goal.”

Nihipali’s father, Shorty, said she has been a fighter “from day one.”

The oldest of five, Nihipali was born with fluid in her lungs and spent two weeks in the intensive care unit before being discharged to her family.

Her parents were college athletes, and she picked up volleyball — the family’s favorite sport — when she was 9 and quickly developed a passion for it.

The Nihipalis belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so Whittnee had to sit out club games on Sundays. But she compensated for missed time by training with her father at their church throughout the week, focusing on technical and conditioning drills.

“We’ve always known that she’s a special athlete,” said Shorty Nihipali, who played college football at Virginia Tech. “Whittnee’s very humble about it.”

Whittnee Nihipali said she didn’t know she was an exceptional player until “maybe like two years ago,” and even that was a bashful admission.

Mustangs coach Karissa Guthrie said she recognized Nihipali’s prodigious ability when she was in junior high and is proud of the way she’s worked to cultivate her leadership.

Perhaps she owes it to the parents who adore watching her star for Shadow Ridge but still require her to do the same chores as her siblings.

Or the church at which she refined her skills and learned how to make personal sacrifices.

“Her love for her family and her church is essential to who she is as a person,” Guthrie said. “That’s her. That’s Whittnee … She likes to win, she likes the acknowledgement. Sure, she likes that kind of stuff … (But) her family and church make her who she really is.”

Liberty lineman announces commitment

Liberty senior defensive lineman Crishaun Lappin will play college football at UNR, he tweeted Sunday.

The commitment is nonbinding and won’t be official until he signs a national letter of intent. National signing day for football is Feb. 7.

Lappin anchors the Patriots’ defense and was ranked the third-best defensive player in the city by Nevada Preps before the season. He also had scholarship offers from Northern Arizona and Texas-El Paso.

Gorman boys ranked No. 8

Bishop Gorman’s boys team checked in at No. 8 in the most recent USA Today/United Soccer Coaches Super 25 rankings. The Gaels (13-0-2) were ranked 15th last week.

More preps: Follow all of our Nevada Preps coverage online at nevadapreps.com and @NevadaPreps on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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