The PCHS volleyball team won a Division III state championship at Galena High School in Reno in Nov. 2012. The team included standing (left to right) assistant coach Shelbey Wanner, head coach Shauna Bake, Maria Montes, Abby Bake, Melissa Gonzalez, Bailey Wanner, Mikayla Montes, manager Hannah McCurley and assistant coach Emilee Houston. Sitting (left to right) Sarita Jo Condie, Rocio Tores and Leah Holland.
The PCHS volleyball team won a Division III state championship at Galena High School in Reno in Nov. 2012. The team included standing (left to right) assistant coach Shelbey Wanner, head coach Shauna Bake, Maria Montes, Abby Bake, Melissa Gonzalez, Bailey Wanner, Mikayla Montes, manager Hannah McCurley and assistant coach Emilee Houston. Sitting (left to right) Sarita Jo Condie, Rocio Tores and Leah Holland.
Each volleyball season, Pershing County High School coach Monica Halverson comes up with a new motto for her team. 

This season’s theme is, “Together: small in numbers, but mighty in play and focus.” 

Over the years, coaches like Halverson, Shauna Bake and Lisa Clark have challenged the Mustangs to outplay competitors from larger schools. 

As a result, the girls play hard and are fun to watch.

In 2012, with one of Nevada’s smallest rosters, they won the first volleyball championship in school history. So far, it’s the only one.

On that Saturday afternoon at Galena High School, the Mustangs swept Yerington, 27-25, 25-11 and 25-17. Bake coached the ‘great eight’ and still helps out whenever she can. Next month, she hopes to run a couple of skills clinics for the 2021 team. 

If possible, coach Halverson will invite middle-schoolers to participate.

“I’m building a program, and I love involving the younger girls as much as I can,” she says. “They missed out on their season too.”

In 2012, the state champs attributed their success to team chemistry. They also pointed to their experiences on the basketball court.

Volleyball coaches report that basketball helps hitters develop rebounding and jumping ability. 

Likewise, basketball coaches see improvement in athletes that also play volleyball.

For example, the talking between shots in volleyball helps coordinate which player will make a hit. It also lets others know about positioning on the floor – a constant communication that translates to basketball and other sports.

“Basketball helped us a lot because we’re used to having pressure,” said Sarita Jo Condie after the championship win. “But we play basically because we just like to play volleyball, so there’s really no pressure to win.”

Today, Condie is thousands of miles away on a tour of duty as a surface warfare officer on the USS Chung-Hoon in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 

Closer to home, Leah Holland teaches kindergarten at Lovelock Elementary School. She’ll help Halverson and Nancy Meissner this year.

On Jan. 15, Pershing County’s coaches and athletes will learn the fate of basketball and wrestling, both deemed high-risk for the transmission of the coronavirus. Cancellations could affect the starting dates of the other 2021 sport seasons. 

“I share so many athletes with basketball,” says Halverson. “That should be their main focus right now. If basketball gets canceled, I’m not sure if they will start our season early or keep it the way it is.” 

Tentatively, volleyball begins official practice on Feb. 20. The season runs from March 5 through April 10. 

Through it all, the volleyball program continues to thrive. Twelve girls recently completed a virtual workout regimen at 85 percent or better. 

Aimee Carpenter, Josie Crim, Hannah Stairwalt, Cheyeanne Diaz, Presley Burrows, Kaydance Happy, Kaylen Halverson, Andrea Canchola, Anna Happy, Mady Grenz, Morgan Swindlehurst and Taylor Garland earned their names on the backs of their hoodies.

They’re small in numbers but mighty in play and focus.