The Dayton High volleyball team took an important step to possibly winning the school's first ever team state championship by winning its second straight Northern 3A title on Saturday.
Dayton, the No. 1 seed and host of the tournament, clinched a state playoff berth with a 25-14, 25-21, 25-20 win over North Tahoe. The Dust Devils then beat Incline 26-24, 23-25, 25-22, 25-22 in the finals.
On Friday, the Dust Devils will play Spring Creek, who qualified as the Norther 3A No. 33 seed at 5:30 p.m. in the state semifinals at Galena. In the other state semifinal, Incline will play Pahrump Valley at 3:30. The finals will be this Saturday.
Dayton will seek its first team state title in any sport since the school opened at its current site. The Dust Devils advanced to last year's state finals before losing to Moapa Valley, which won its 13th straight state title.
But Dayton may already have a psychological edge this year as Moapa Valley will not be in the state event. "It's nice to know that Moapa Valley's not there," Dayton coach Sondra McMullen said.
Another psychological edge for Dayton could come in the form of Faith Lutheran, the Southern 3A's top team during the regular season, will not be in the state event, either. "We need to break the ice," McMullen said. "It might be our turn."
McMullen said it was important to win zone because now Dayton will play a familiar opponent.
"It gives us confidence, but we can't be overconfident," said McMullen, noting that Spring Creek barely made the zone playoffs as the No. 6 seed, but was able to advance to state.
"It was very important," McMullen also said about winning zone. "It's nice to face a known team like Spring Creek rather than the unknown."
Dayton was again led by Amanda Sbragia, but McMullen was quick to note that Sbragia has received plenty of support.
"We've got one of the top players in the state," said McMullen about Sbragia. "But it takes more than one player. I'm really proud of this team. They're pretty young."
Against North Tahoe, Sbragia had 26 kills, five blocks and 14 digs. Macy Hamlin had a huge serving effort with eight aces and addded two kills and five digs.
In addition, Michelle Bowman had 13 assists, two kills, five blocks and five digs, Gina Henderson had eight assists and five kills, Nicole Greer had four kills and six digs, Sara Simmons had two kills, two aces and five digs and Melony Cox added two kills and two digs.
Against Incline, Sbragia had 15 kills, six blocks, 16 digs, three aces and two assists, Simmons had six kills and 12 digs, Bowman had 23 assists, two kills, one block, two aces and three digs, Henderson had 11 assists, one kill and six digs, Greer had three kills and seven digs, Kristin Wetzel had three digs, Cox had nine digs and one kill and Hamlin added five digs and one kill.
Dayton did lose Hamlin to an ankle injury late in the match against Incline, but McMullen said she hoped Hamlin would be able to play in the state event.