LAS VEGAS – Selections to the1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State volleyball squads for the Division 3A are not easy to come by.
Elko junior Elena Howe rebounded from a season-ending broken ankle during her sophomore season, showing why she is one of the best volleyball players in the state of Nevada in 2017.
Howe earned her 1st-Team All-League selection at the setter and opposite hitter positions.
Her game is as vast as her locations on the court; she’s everywhere.
She led Elko with 336 assists as a setter, but Howe also topped the Lady Indians’ roster with 173 kills.
Back to the net, Howe ranked second on the team with 39 blocks.
Want to go back beyond the end line?
She’s a force there too, tying for second with 25 aces.
How about defense in the middle of the floor? Yep, covered – ranking fourth on the roster with 168 digs.
While constant improvement should always be the focus, there really isn’t anything Howe can’t do or isn’t capable of on the volleyball court.
Unlike other sports, in which players did not have to be from a team in the regional or state tournaments to gain All-State honors, volleyball penciled out differently.
No player from a team that did not qualify for the playoffs so much as received a spot on the All-League units, let alone the All-State teams.
The North only received three positions for the 1st-Team All-State selections, placing four girls on the 2nd-Team All-State unit.
Howe closed with a 2nd-Team All-State honor, likely upping that to a 1st-Team All-State nod if the ultra-talented Lady Indians could have put all phases of the game together and advanced to the state tournament.
She will be the face, the hands and the arm of the Lady Indians during her senior season in 2018 – providing length and leaping ability with her 6-foot-1 frame.
In her final season for the Lady Indians, senior outside hitter Lexi Baum earned a Division 3A North 2nd-Team All-League selection.
Like Howe, Baum found success pretty much anywhere she played.
Providing the power from the outside, she finished second on the team with 160 kills.
However, her defense was much underrated – tying for the team high with 250 digs.
She posted middle blocker-type numbers in swats, stuffing 33 shots – fourth-best on the roster.
After not serving much in past seasons, Baum ripped up opposing defenses with 22 aces (fourth-best for the team), serving at a 94-percent clip for the year.
Although she earned the 2nd-Team All-League honor as an outside hitter, Baum showed her ability to spark the Lady Indians from the position she played as a sophomore – middle blocker.
With Elko’s block in the middle ineffective for three sets on Oct.7 against Fallon at Centennial Gymnasium, the Lady Indians faced a 2-1 set deficit and were up against elimination.
Elko coach Cammie Nelson placed Baum in the middle and hoped for a shot of life, getting a big one.
She made emphatic swat after impressive block, igniting a comeback victory in five sets.
Baum finished the match with six blocks in a set and a half, providing one of her most memorable matches of the season at a much-needed time.
Four local players earned recognition for the 3A North awards, two Elko players and two Spring Creek athletes finishing with honorable mentions.
For the Lady Indians, senior outside hitter Mollie Gallagher and junior middle hitter Alexis Elquist received the nods.
Spring Creek’s players who were tabbed were junior middle hitter Alayna Grosz and junior middle Shaylynn Yaunick.
Of the four honorable mention recipients, all but Gallagher will return for their senior seasons in 2018.
Congratulations to Elena Howe for her 1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State selections, Lexi Baum for her 2nd-Team All-North honor and to all players who garnered notice during the Division 3A volleyball season.