This was one of those matches Daryl James would have loved to have been up in the stands watching as a volleyball fan.
Instead, James was on the bench coaching for Carson High School against Galena in what developed into a marathon match between rivals who may well meet again in the postseason. And even though the Senators came out on the short end of a 3-2 score, James was still enthused by what he saw.
"I thought it was a good ball game," James said. "It was a fun one to watch, a fun one to coach in and I'm sure it was fun for the kids to play in on both sides. That's what it's all about."
The Grizzlies won 14-16, 15-12, 15-13, 14-16, 15-11 in a struggle that lasted nearly three hours in Morse Burley Gymnasium.
Galena maintained its hold on first-place in the High Desert League as the Grizzlies improved to 7-0 against conference opposition (18-4 overall), including a key win at home against Douglas on Tuesday. Carson slipped to 5-2 in the Sierra League.
Thursday was a rematch between two teams that battled last November in the Northern 4A Regional Tournament - with Galena winning and earning the right to move on to the state tournament. Needless to say, Galena coach Teresa Burrows was pleased with this win.
"Every win is a nice win," Burrows said. "Carson's a scrappy team, so it was nice to come away with a win."
The Senators some of that scrappy play when they took game one. Kaitie Lawson went down for a dig that led to a Rachael DeRiemer kill that gave Carson a 14-12 lead, then DeRiemer got a dig up and over the net and into open space for a point that broke a 14-14 tie.
In game two, the lead changed hands four times, but then Galena's Lauren Wallace and Joanna Hixon began to get warmed up. Wallace gave a big all-around performance, as the 5-foot-9 senior setter handed out 36 assists to go with 11 kills, 12 blocks and 14 digs.
"That was a big win. It took us a while to get into it, but we got better as the game went on. We played well as a team and we pulled it out," Wallace said.
"Joanna is definitely one of my clutch hitters. I definitely go to her a lot. She's pretty much always there."
Hixon, a junior swing player finished the night with 21 kills and 21 digs. Hixon had one stretch during game three when she put down four straight kills for sideout during a stretch when the Senators led 13-12 and the score was tied at 13.
In game four, the Senators battled back from deficits of 6-1, 13-9 and 14-12 to win. Colleen Doyle came up with two digs and DeRiemer found an opening to tie the score at 14 and Megan Anderson served an ace to put the Senators on top 15-14.
DeRiemer returned to the court to play a big role after turning her ankle early in that fourth game. There were other contributions in the meantime, according to James.
"Jessica Smallman did a great job coming in there when Rachael got her ankle taped," James said. "When she came in, that was a tough spot, and she passed the ball perfect three or four times and dug a couple of balls."
DeRiemer finished with 23 kills to go with four blocks and three service aces for Carson. Anderson had 22 kills, nine blocks and five aces and Shannon Devereaux rang up 19 kills. Setter Tabitha Adams was credited with 60 assists, Kaitlin Brush had five blocks and Lawson had four digs.
Galena's Carly Kolesar was credited with 18 kills and 22 digs and Whitney Dibble 17 kills.
"The comebacks were great. That's an indication that this team never quits. And what more can you ask for?" James said. "I'm happy with how we played, I'm happy with the intensity. Our passing broke down a little bit at the end, but you've got to give Galena credit. They've got a good team. We have a good team, too."
In the preliminary matches, Carson's J.V. squad defeated Galena 15-8, 15-9. Erin Amodei served up a string of eight points as the Senators took an 8-0 lead in game two, and Ashley Mead followed with five points in a row. Kristi Case also contributed two blocks and Kayla Dunn four kills for Carson.
Carson also won the freshman match, 15-11, 15-11.