The Douglas High volleyball team, last year's 4A state tournament runner-up, came out this past weekend and showed it will be a force to reckon with this fall with a second-place finish at the 36-team Las Vegas Invitational.
Douglas went 7-2 - along the way facing five teams that qualified for their respective state tournaments in 2004 - and lost only to Utah powers Provo in its pool play and then to Pleasant Grove in the tournament's Gold Division championship match.
Provo, fourth at the Utah 4A state tournament last year, won a three-set struggle 25-23, 18-25, 17-15. Pleasant Grove, last year's Utah 4A state runner-up and a team that finished second one week before in the Gold Division at the Utah Tournament of Champions, defeated Douglas in the finals 25-15, 25-16.
"It was a great tournament," Douglas coach Velvet Steele said. "We saw Galena at the tournament and a lot of other strong teams. I think this season should be a great season for everyone."
The Tigers moved into the Gold Division championship bracket on Saturday afternoon and beat Centennial in a close match (25-21, 27-26), then got past Galena (25-12, 25-22) in a rematch of last year's state tournament final.
Defending state champion Galena also finished with a 7-2 record, losing only to Bishop Gorman and Douglas. The Grizzlies did come away with a win against Silverado, a team they also beat in the state semifinals last year.
"It was a good preseason tournament," Galena coach Teresa Burrows said. "I was pleasantly surprised considering the youth I have. We lost seven seniors last year, so we are young."
She added that Douglas looked good on the court in its two-set win over the Grizzlies, who were without all-league player Lydia Mailander, as the senior is still sidelined after having surgery on her wrist earlier this month.
"They kind of took it to us in the first game. We made some mistakes and they were on fire. But we regrouped and made the second game more interesting," Burrows said. "Douglas has a good team, just like always. They're very athletic and very competitive."
The two teams aren't scheduled to meet again during the regular season, but could well meet when the Northern 4A Regional Tournament is held in November. Of interest, the North will only send one team to the 4A state tournament in Las Vegas.
Douglas began the tournament with wins over three opponents on Friday. The Tigers defeated Las Vegas (25-9, 25-13), Cedar City, Utah (25-16, 25-10), and Palo Verde (25-13, 25-19) in a rematch of last year's Nevada 4A state tournament semifinals. Douglas defeated Palo Verde in four games in that state tournament match.
On Saturday, the Tigers finished up their pool play with a win against Faith Lutheran (25-17, 25-23), Carbon (25-28, 25-16), followed by the loss against Provo. Carbon High (Price, Utah) was an undefeated 3A state champion last year and finished as a state runner-up the previous three years.