The young Carson High volleyball team showed their growing pains - and then how much they've grown - all in a matter of minutes against Elko on Saturday at CHS.
It also didn't hurt that one of their veterans, who wasn't supposed to be back this soon, made a vital cameo appearance. With the help of a brief, but important contribution from Nicole Scott, the Senators were able to sweep Elko 25-23, 25-8, 27-25.
Carson looked to have the third game under control, only to see Elko rally to have three match points at 24-21. But with the help of Scott, the Senators were able to rally for the win.
Scott came back much sooner than expected from a bout with pnuemonia. "I wasn't going to play her at all," Carson coach Shana Wilkins said. "But I didn't want to go to four."
After Scott came through with a dink that cut the deficit to 24-22, she came out and the young Senators led by another veteran, Catherine Brekken, took it from there.
Wilkins doesn't know how much Scott will be able to play when Carson hosts Douglas at 6 p.m. Tuesday. At stake will be five points to the winner in the Sierra Nevada Cup presented by Les Schwab. "I hope to have her Tuesday and that we'll be able to use her," Wilkins said.
Carson is still without two other key veterans in Alex and Sandra McAlman. Sandra is out for the season with a knee injury and Alex is out with the chicken pox.
With an aggressive young team, Wilkins said Carson will need Scott in the middle. "I'm excited to have her back," she said. "She's a huge powerhouse. We like to put the ball down."
But Wilkins was also quick to note that players like Sandie Howard have been doing a good job picking up the slack.
"Sandie did a great job," said Wilkins about Saturday. "Every game she's getting better."
Carson trailed 4-1 in game three, but went on a 7-1 run to take an 8-5 lead, with Lindsay Ford serving for the last five points. Courtney Katafias and Howard combined on a block, Howard had another block and kill and Katafias had a kill during the run.
Carson continued to pull away, taking a 16-7 lead on the strength of two kills by Ford, Brekken's block, kill and quick hit.
After Elko closed to within 16-11, Brekken's block made it 17-11. The Senators looked to still be in control on Brekken's ace and Howard's dink that made it 20-14.
But Elko went on a 10-1 run to take a 24-21 lead. Scott's dink stopped the bleeding and then Brekken took the match by the throat. Her block and quick hit tied the score 24-24. After the two teams exchanged service errors, Brekken's quick hit and dink gave Carson the win.
"The young kids are playing really well," Wilkins said. "I'm seeing improvement from every game.
"The young kids are getting experience. They're still making mistakes but they're young and they're going to make mistakes."
Brekken had nine kills, two aces, six blocks and four digs, Katafias ahd six kills, two aces and 17 digs, Michelle Raponi had 20 digs, Allison Foltz had 21 digs and an ace and Ford added 23 assists. Wilkins also praised Shannon Earwood's defensive play.