Facing Douglas was going to be difficult under any circumstances. On Tuesday night, the Carson High volleyball team had to face that challenge in its Sierra League opener and at less than 100 percent personnel-wise.
Predictably, the outcome was a three-set sweep for the Douglas Tigers, who defeated Carson 25-11, 31-29, 25-18 in a meeting between the arch rival schools at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
"It's tough we had to open with Douglas," Carson coach Shana Wilkins said. "We're so young, we're mostly freshmen and sophomores out there, then with the injuries and illness, we just aren't ready yet."
By winning, Douglas picked up five points toward the Sierra Nevada Cup Presented by Les Schwab.
Douglas is already the Sierra League team to beat - possibly in the North - with a nucleus of players returning after finishing second at the regional and state tournaments in 2004. The Tigers lost three times over the weekend to California opponents St. Ignatius, Union Mine and St. Francis at Galena's High Sierra Invitational, though they beat defending tournament champion Nevada Union. They also lost a four-set nonconference match against McQueen last Thursday, but didn't have team captain Cayla Knapp due to a shoulder injury.
Coach Velvet Steel was pleased with Tuesday's performance, especially during a back-and-back second set in which she used virtually the entire team.
"I was impressed with the way my second team played," she said. "I had my second string setter and second string right side in there and they played well. It was pretty stressful, but if you don't give them a chance to pull it out, you won't find out if they can do it."
That second set saw the scored tied at 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. Carson had two golden opportunities, serving to win with leads of 27-26 and 29-28, but the Senators were unable to capitalize either time.
Monica Knight took a set from Katy Marsh down the line to tie it at 29-29. Later, Knapp put down a block to give Douglas a 30-29, then Knight closed it out with a hit down the middle.
"That was a good reality check for the kids," Steel said. "There are going to be times when you meet up with somebody who's' going to shut you down and you have to be able to fight for it every time."
The Senators (0-1 league, 7-6 overall) had some highlights of their own.
Lindsay Ford delivered back-to-back aces, the second of which landed just inside the back line, enabled Carson to tie the score at 24-24. Nicole Scott's hit over the middle tied it at 28-28 and Michelle Raponi had a diving save that cleared the net and fell to give the Senators a 29-28 lead.
Scott, who is still recovering from a recent bout with pneumonia, contributed 4 kills, 1 block and 2 digs in the match.
"She's still not 100 percent, but she did pretty good coming back," Wilkins said of Scott, a 6-foot-2 senior middle blocker. "The main problem was we didn't pass the ball well enough to use the middle like we would have liked.
"We're young and we're still making young team mistakes," Wilkins said. "Next time we see them, hopefully we'll be able to put it together."
The Senators are further hindered by the loss of senior outside hitter Sandra McAlman, out for the season after sustaining a knee injury. Her sister, Alex McAlman, also missed Tuesday's match due to chicken pox.
Ford had a solid all-around performance for the Senators with 16 assists, 4 aces, 2 kills, 4 digs and 3 blocks.
"She kind of did it all," Wilkins said of the junior setter.
Senior Catherine Brekken contributed 19 digs, 4 kills and 3 blocks. Sophomore Nicole Carlevato also had 14 digs for the Senators.
For Douglas, Dawson Joyce-Mendive had 9 kills while Whitney Estes chipped in with 8 kills and 5 blocks. Both are seniors. Marsh handed out 10 assists and served up 2 aces during a stretch when Douglas surged to a 10-1 lead in the final set. Backup setter Allie Hughes had out seven assists. Shariece Steel contributed 7 digs, one in the final set when she collaborated with Bonnie Matheson to keep alive a rally that eventually resulted in point that increased the Tigers' lead to 19-10.
Carson resumes its league schedule Thursday with a match at home against Hug while Douglas plays host to Damonte Ranch.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1220.