Panthers take third place at AA volleyball tournament
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Riding the spiking arms of seniors Katie LaGrave and Courtnie Paschall, the Kadena Panthers set a school standard for success in the Far East High School Girls Class AA Volleyball Tournament on Saturday.
LaGrave and Paschall each scored 13 spike kills to power the Panthers to third place, the best finish in school history, but Kadena had to fend off rally-bent American School In Japan 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 25-21.
“They were allergic to 25 today,” coach Rachelle Smith said of a Panthers team that stood at match point in the third set, only to blow a 24-20 lead. In the fourth, they led 24-16 only to watch the Mustangs cut it to 24-20 before closing it out.
“You just have to play like we have to finish, it has to be over sometime,” LaGrave said. “We just need one point. We wanted to go out a winner.”
“We just got tired of being sick and tired,” added senior middle blocker Felicia Reinert, who contributed seven kills, five service aces and 12 defensive digs. “We just had to do it.”
Kadena’s previous best finish in the Class AA tournament was sixth in 1983 and 2001.
On Saturday, they finished two rungs below Academy of Our Lady of Guam, which won its record eighth Class AA title by dethroning defending champion Southern 17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 in an all-Guam final.
Kadena’s triumph topped off a season that Smith, an Annapolis graduate and former All-Navy spiker and track athlete, called one of her best experiences in sports.
“From the beginning of the season, our goal was to make the top three,” Smith said. “We’ve had our ups and downs but there’s never been a bad word said by anybody about another player. We’ve said nothing but good things about each other. They’ve been nothing but supportive of me.”
The vanquished Mustangs tipped their hats to their conquerors. “They were a scrappy little team,” said coach Gail Lanier, who’s coached ASIJ on and off since 1977. “They have a lot of hustle.”
It mattered not, Smith said, “whether we had won or lost every game. They gave it their all,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade this season for anything.”
Lyle closes running career with Okinawa mile record
Between halves of the Rising Sun Bowl football game at Kadena’s McDonald Stadium, 2002 Far East cross-country individual girls champion Kim Lyle of Kadena broke the Okinawa Activities Council record for the mile run.
The senior, running with teammates Dianne Abel and 2003 island champion Niki Kauzlarich, clocked the mile in 5 minutes, 52 seconds, topping the old mark of 5:54 set in 1990 by Kirsten Achenbach, now a Yokota High School teacher.
“That was nice,” Lyle said, adding that the crowd of close to 3,000 “helped me. My adrenaline was pumping the whole race. It was a nice way to end my career here.”
— Kadena High School student-journalists Erika Aragon and Lindsay Harris contributed to this report.