This has turned out to be a pretty successful opening week for the Douglas High volleyball team.
Just consider the Tigers are 8-2, including six wins at the Las Vegas Invitational, followed by a triumph against Yerington on Tuesday night and another on Wednesday at South Tahoe. As an extra bonus, six of those wins have come against opponents that went to the playoffs in 2012 — South Tahoe was the Division I-A state champion and Yerington the Division III runner-up.
As far as coach Suzi Townsell is concerned, however, the high caliber competition is serving as preparation for the big tests to come in league the next two months.
“Playing these teams will only help us get better players, and a better team,” Townsell said after watching the Tigers pull out a hard-fought win against Yerington. “This gives us a chance to work out the kinks before we start league next week.”
The Tigers continue their preparation this weekend when the Tigers play in the Yerington tournament, before opening Division I North play on Tuesday with a match at home against defending state champion Spanish Springs.
Some heads-up play — and good vision — at crunch time helped the Tigers defeat Yerington 3-2 in their season home opener.
Senior outside hitter Kristina Barnum had three of her team-high 19 kills during a pivotal stretch in the fifth game when Douglas came from behind to secure the victory in its season home opener. The Tigers won by scores of 25-15, 20-25, 25-16, 21-25, 15-12 in a match that came down to the wire.
“They were scrappy,” Barnum said. “We didn’t want to lose … we were fighting.”
Ariah Barth had kills to tie the score at 7-7 and 10-10. Yerington still led 11-10 before Barnum delivered three successive kills to give the Tigers a lead they never relinquished.
Finding open spaces in Yerington’s defense was the key, Barnum acknowledged.
“I was just trying to find the open spot on the court,” she said. “I wasn’t seeing the line shot earlier … it was a matter of playing smart.”
Katie McCullough had 16 kills, two blocks and three digs for Douglas. Shelby Van Winkle turned in a solid all-around performance with 45 assists, 18 digs, five aces and four kills. Barth finished with nine kills, 14 digs and eight aces. The Tigers’ libero, Madeline Strauss, contributed 16 digs to the defensive effort.
McCullough and Barth had two kills each to ignite a 10-2 run that put the Tigers in control of the first game.
“We’ve introduced a new defense and still in the mode of cleaning it up,” Townsell said. “That first game they looked like they had it down.
“They just can’t seem to get that rhythm down,” she added. “But the thing I like, they’re fighting to finish. They’re aggressive (when the games are on the line).”
Yerington (0-4), the runner-up at last year’s Division III state tournament, was led by sophomore Kassidy Lommori with 15 kills and freshman Ashley Rife had 34 assists.
Never mind the Lions’ winless record. Three of those losses came at the Galena tournament over the weekend,.
“They pushed all three of those teams at Galena,” said Yerington coach Debbie Rife, whose 2012 squad was 27-12 and lost to Pershing County in the Division III state finals. “This is a young team, we only have four seniors, but they’re a good, hard-working group. We’re excited about them.”
DOUGLAS 3, SOUTH TAHOE 1
Douglas came back on Wednesday to post a 3-1 win at South Tahoe. The scores were 16-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-23. McCullough had 14 kills, while Barth contributed 11 kills and 14 digs. Nikki Hamada added 14 service points and 14 assists and Shelby Van Winkle 17 assists.