Cottonwood Chronicle / Greg Wherry
The 2015 Prairie volleyball squad won its second consecutive 1AD1 state title. Pictured are (from left): head coach Cheyenne Hudson, Mykaela McWilliams, Shayla VonBargen, Sarah Seubert, Sydney Bruner, Angela Wemhoff, Leah Higgins, Madison Pecarovich, team statistician Jordyn Higgins and assistant coach Marlene Forsmann. Front: Hailey Danly, Krystin Uhlenkott, Chaye Uptmor and Josie Peery.
As of Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Danly diving through the seats. VonBargen smashing one to the 10 foot line off a quick set. Uhlenkott overpowering an opponent’s ability to react.
The hustles and heavy hits — the signature plays Prairie’s players delivered throughout the season — continued throughout the playoffs, resulting in a second consecutive 1AD1 state title for a group Pirates fans won’t soon forget.
“It means a lot,” coach Cheyenne Hudson said. “These kids worked really hard for this and it was nice to see how it paid off for them.”
Hudson described how she sees upcoming classes starting to perpetuate this season’s successful run — unbroken since a loss at Lewiston on Aug. 29: “The four senior girls are the spearhead...they enjoy all the sports, they always want to get in the gym, and the rest of the girls pick up on that. And it carries over.”
Senior setter Hailey Danly came away with 106 assists at the tournament.
“That doesn’t count the defensive plays she was in on, or the hustle plays she was in on,” Hudson said. “She was involved with everything. She is a phenomenal setter. As I told her, I don’t know if our offense would have been as effective without her on the court. She runs the court very well.”
Senior outside hitter Krystin Uhlenkott tagged 31 kills in a five-set victory over Butte County (24-26, 29-31, 25-19, 25-16, 15-11). Butte County proved Prairie’s closest competition at Timberlake High School last Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30-31. PHS posted three other key wins: one over Oakley (25-11, 25-17, 25-12) and two over Genesee (25-17, 27-25, 25-17 in the semifinal and 25-18, 25-14, 25-13 in the final).
In the course of praising all of her players’ contributions, Hudson said Uhlenkott has “always been a huge part of our offense all throughout high school...She’s always been a great hitter, but it has been nice to watch her use her different shots — her tip shot, her deep line, cross-court, deep corners, not just cramming the ball away.”
Uhlenkott averaged nearly 20 kills per match for the weekend compared to 14 per match for the season.
Shayla VonBargen also put away a large proportion of her shots.
“She had a phenomenal weekend,” Hudson said. “Both her and Krystin lit up Butte County.”
VonBargen totaled 69 kills for the weekend, with 30 against Butte County.
“She can go up and just hammer the ball to the 10 foot line, but is also very smart about when to tip,” Hudson said. “She’s a huge part of our defense with her block...without her, our defense would not have been able to pass as well as we did collectively, across the board.”
Senior Sarah Seubert defensively played out of the middle back, Hudson said: “Her passing was very consistent over the weekend...she didn’t have the outstanding numbers that Krystin and Shayla did, but you knew she was there through her passing and even her kills. She averaged six kills a match this last weekend.”
“The four of them are phenomenal leaders, and more than anything I wanted the state title for them, because they put in a lot of time and their influence has been felt through everybody in our program,” Hudson said. “All the underclassmen look up to them, and try to emulate them. It’s important we try to take that intensity and love of the game forward to the next couple of years.”
Hudson also highlighted the play of junior libero Chaye Uptmor, junior middle blocker Mykaela McWilliams and sophomore right side hitter Angela Wemhoff.
Hudson said Uptmor was “involved in almost every play,” McWilliams was “a big part of our offense and defense,” and Wemhoff, who stepped due to early-season injuries, and “came up with some humongous blocks.”
“We would not have won without their contribution,” Hudson said. “Those three girls were such a great support system for our seniors.”