By Vern Hee
Judi Boni, head coach of the Tonopah Muckers, and her girls volleyball team will be traveling to Pahrump this Saturday to play the Trojans. The Muckers came down here in August to play in the Pahrump Invitational but did not play the Trojans at that time. The Division IV Muckers lost in the semi finals of that tournament to a very good Division III Calvary Chapel team.
The Muckers’ last two wins came at the expense of Round Mountain and a very feisty White Pine team. Boni’s team beat Round Mountain in three sets, 25-10, 25-9 and 25-11 last Friday and then played White Pine on Saturday, beating them in five sets, 25-18, 13-25,23-25, 25-19, and 15-6.
The Tonopah Muckers are off to a good start after performing really well at Battle Mountain tournament two weeks ago, hosted by the Division III Battle Mountain Longhorns. They are used to playing teams above their caliber. The Muckers went toe to toe with the Longhorns and almost beat them in the championship, losing in three sets, 26-24,21-25, and 12-15. Think the Muckers will be coming to Pahrump to lose just because they are facing a Division 1-A team?
The Muckers are a very strong team. They are well coached in the fundamentals of volleyball and rarely beat themselves. This will be Boni’s 23rd year coaching. She is hoping this year she will take the Division IV volleyball championship.
Boni’s team has some very strong hitters led by veteran senior, Deanna Vanpoucke. Vanpoucke is on track to be a four-year letterman in volleyball. She is only 5’8″ but she has an amazing leaping ability and is very strong. On the outside the Muckers have two other senior hitters, Ashley Eason and Alli Friel. All three hitters will come at you from any direction. Boni said that she likes her offense because in reality its not just the hitters that can hurt you. Her offense can come at you from just about anywhere on the court.
Last Saturday against White Pine Boni believes she was able to get the best play out of her starters in a tight match.
“Good play was turned in by Alli Friel with 27 assists, Klapper 14 digs and 6 kills and Vanpoucke with 14 kills and 26 points with 8 aces. Vanpoucke serving has really improved this year. Vanpoucke and Greber combined for 10 blocks against White Pine’s hard-hitting offense, which put them on the defense. They had to change their game plan mid- match,” said Boni.
In this non-league match-up, to beat Tonopah the blockers of the Trojans will have to step it up. Jill Harris, the head coach of the Trojans has been pleased with her team and the way they have been performing.
Mikala Davis, and Shayla Dance have been the workhorses of the Trojans defense and doing the majority of the blocking in recent matches.
In the last match against Del Sol, Davis had 5 blocks while Dance had 3 and that was the total for the whole team in four sets. While Tonopah is very aggressive, they come at you. They had 14 blocks in five sets along with 20 kills. This just means that Dance, at 5’10″ must be more aggressive at the net.
The Trojans hitters have been doing better. Offensively the Trojans are serving better and Payton Hart has picked up the amount of kills. The team had 24 kills in the last four sets against Del Sol, ten of those coming from Hart. Harris said Hart has really picked up her game since the Pahrump Invitational and she said Payton has her own style of hitting and she isn’t going to change it.
In addition to her hitters, Harris also believes the team is improving on serving. The team is making far less serving errors. The team average during the Del Sol Match was hovering around 80 percent.
Harris believes this is a building year for Pahrump. Hart is the only player on the team with extensive varsity experience. She feels the team is now going in the right direction and has to work on the finer points of the game so they do not beat themselves.
The Trojans have grown considerably since the Pahrump Invitational, so look for a good shootout between the two schools on Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. The Trojans were away at Mojave on Thursday night but the results were past deadline.
In other volleyball action, The Beatty Hornets will be at home against Pyramid Lake at 5 p.m.