There was a post-season type of atmosphere in Morse Burley Gym Thursday night, and the Douglas High volleyball team thrived on it.
Led by front-line players Jourdan Burke, Jessica Waggoner and Taryn Williams, the Tigers outlasted Carson 27-25, 26-24 and 27-25 in a tense Sierra League match.
Douglas improved to 2-0 in league play, while Carson dropped to 1-1.
How close was this one?
The biggest lead by either team was five points when Douglas held an 11-6 lead in the second set and Carson led 20-15 later in that set. Three two-point sets.
Volleyball doesn't get much better than that.
The tighter the better, according to Burke, who finished with 13 kills, four blocks, two assists and two digs.
"I love matches like this," Burke said. "I'd much rather play in one of these games than if somebody handed one to us. Carson is our rival, and we wanted to stick it to them."
It was a tough setback for the Senators, and there were very few dry eyes in the group, as they talked with family and friends.
"We never play well against them because it's Douglas," Carson coach Shana Wilkins said. "We were so focused on playing hard. I thought if we could do that the score would look like that.
"I'm so proud. We played our hearts out, but we happened to lose by two points all three games."
In the first set, the score was tied eight different times.
Carson led 11-7, but Douglas went ahead 12-11 thanks to a service error and a kill by Williams (10 kills) plus a long spike by Breanna Anderson. The Senators also mishandled the ball twice.
Three kills by Waggoner (11 kills, 7 blocks) and one by Burke propelled the Tigers to a 16-13 edge. Carson tied the game at 17, but Douglas caught fire and gained a 23-19 lead, as Bridget Maestretti put down two kills , and then teamed with Megan Mitchell (40 assists) to block Anderson. Mitchell and Burke added a kill apiece in a 6-2 run.
Nicole Carvelato contributed two blocks and a kill, and Mavil Diaz (10 digs) served up an ace, tying the score at 23. The momentum died moments later when Diaz served into the net, allowing the Tigers to take a 24-23 lead. Carson fought back to a 24-all tie, but kills by Waggoner and Williams closed out the first set.
Douglas built an early 11-6 lead in the second game, but a kill by Danae Eckert, an ace by Blaike King, a mishit dink by Nikki Keller and a block by Shannon Earwood enabled Carson to forge a 20-15 lead.
The momentum definitely favored the Senators, but they couldn't seal the deal - again.
Douglas closed to 21-20 on a kill by Allie Hughes and a short-set spike by Waggoner plus two mistakes by Carson. Anderson blocked Hughes to give Carson a 22-20 lead, and then Eckart blocked Williams to make it 23-20. Mista Townsell's ace closed the deficit to 23-22, but she served long moments later, and Carson was one point away from evening the match.
That's when Burke really got rolling. She slammed down three straight kills, and the Tigers were up 2-0.
"This team is good at coming back strong," Burke said. "We're good at staying together and picking each other up. I owe those (last three hits) to my setter.''
"We couldn't stop her (Burke)," Wilkins said. "She had an amazing game."
In many cases, a team that loses two heartbreaking games is apt to fold. Not Carson.
"Our philosophy is every game you still have a chance to take it to another game," Wilkins said. "The ids worked hard and played hard."
The Senators grabbed a 10-7 lead thanks to two service aces by King, a block by Kristin Diamond and a kill by Morgan Nuckolls.
A tip by Mitchell, a kill by Burke, an ace by Burke, a serve receive error and a kill by Williams gave the Tigers a 13-11 lead.
The teams played on near-even terms until Anderson's downball dropped in, a tip found its way to the ground and two long kill attempts by Burke gave Carson a 20-17 advantage.
Douglas, led by Waggoner, stormed back on a 7-1 run to take a 24-21 lead. A tip by Anderson and a kill by King enabled the Senators to tie the game at 24. The teams traded points until Williams scored on a kill and Townsell served an ace to finish the match.
JV VOLLEYBALL: Douglas 2, Carson 1
Emily Garcia's seven kills led Douglas to a 27-25,22-25, 15-10 win over Carson.
Jamie Lorentzen added five kills for the Tigers and Mia Townsell finished with four.
Brittney Sly led Carson with seven kills and three blocks, Karli Dodge added six kills and one block, and Natalia Pecorilla added four kills, a dig and a block.