Douglas High's Caitlyn Stephens drops down to bump a ball against Reno High Thursday night. The Tigers fell in their home opener against the Huskies, but look to bounce back against Carson Tuesday
Though it dropped its opening contest of the season to Reno Thursday night, 3-0, Douglas High volleyball and head coach Suzi Townsell fully expect to be in the mix in Northern Nevada.
After a 22-12 season in 2019, the Tigers will have seven contests over the course of the month of March to vie for bragging rights.
Douglas will be without several seniors from ‘19, including Sierra League player of the year Anna Bertolone – who is now playing Div. I volleyball at UC Irvine.
For Townsell, Douglas’ priority is going to fall on its current upperclassmen, a number of which specialize in defensive roles.
Captains for this season will be Caitlyn Stephens, Kate Talia and Fiona Mora.
“I’m really hoping to get a lot of leadership that way and it’s going to really help our defense a lot to have them be able to direct it,” said Townsell. “I can have them stay in the back row the whole time. Defense, it’s always a big key for me.”
Finding their spots
With a pandemic-shortened season, Douglas won’t have long to piece together a comfortable rotation.
Along with the three returning seniors, Townsell expects the Tigers to feature plenty of Riley Mello on the outside.
“She is going to play outside again. Her transition from the middle to right side last year, it worked out a lot,” Townsell said.
Other junior returners to the lineup include middle blocker and all-league honorable mention Marin Collins along with setter Mia Bertolone.
Townsell also adds three sophomores (Sofia Kolbe, Adaline Doerr and Chana Rothschild) to the varsity lineup that bring a ton of length and leaping ability to the court.
“It’s going to be an interesting combination this year with the old and the new. We have lots of energy. We’re definitely girls with work ethic.” said Townsell.
With new pieces and minimal live gameplay action this season, Douglas’ head coach is looking forward to the challenge of mixing and matching positions or ‘moving pins.’
“I’m moving my girls around a lot. It’s really nice to have pins as players and move them around depending on whom we are playing,” Townsell said. “I think our heart and our guts are really going to determine how we do because we are very athletic. I think we will be able to adjust and roll with it. That’s just what we’re going to have to do.”
Thursday, March 4 – v. Reno (L, 3-0)
Tuesday, March 9 – @ Carson
Thursday, March 11 – v. Galena
Thursday, March 18 – @ Reed
Thursday, March 25 – v. Damonte Ranch
Tuesday, March 30 – @ McQueen
Wednesday, March 31 – @ Bishop Manogue
Sofia, Kolbe, Adaline Doerr, Marin Collins, Gracie Woodbridge, Mia Bertolone, Caitlyn Stephens, Chana Rothschild, Emma Glover, Olivia Nord, Riley Mello, Kate Talia and Fiona Mora.