Tigers fall short against Reno in region finals
IF YOU GO
WHAT: State 4A volleyball tournament
WHEN: Friday, Douglas (25-10) vs. Bishop Gorman (27-10), 5:30 p.m.; Reno (20-5) vs. Silverado (31-7). Saturday, championship match, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Damonte Ranch High School, Reno
An improbable comeback fell just short Saturday afternoon when the Douglas High volleyball team lost 3-2 to Reno during the Northern 4A Region Tournament finals.
Despite losing the opening two sets, the Tigers rallied back and took the match down to the wire in front of a vocal crowd that watched in The Cave at Galena High in Reno. The Huskies won 25-21, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 15-9 to secure their first region championship since 2009.
Despite having its six-match win streak come to an end, Douglas (25-9 overall) now advances to the NIAA 4A State Tournament this weekend at Damonte Ranch High. Douglas opens Friday at 5:30 p.m. against Sunset Region champion Bishop Gorman.
Interestingly enough, the Tigers and Huskies are representing the North as runner-up finishers in their respective Sierra and High Desert leagues. And a lot has changed Sept. 22, when Douglas swept to a 3-0 win at home against Reno (20-5).
The rematch was a much different story between two athletic teams that are very similar to each other. Then again, opposing coaches, Suzi Townsell of Douglas and Reno’s Kuna Nakagawa, were not surprised to see this one go the full five sets.
“Suzi has a great squad,” Nakagawa said. “They are a very talented team.”
Townsell, whose Tigers reigned as region champions in 2010 and 2014, returned the compliment.
“We match up well with them … both sides have great athletes and we both have the same style of play,” she said.
“They’re definitely a great team, but I won’t say they’re the better team (than Douglas),” she added with a smile.
In this case, the Tigers were simply unable to completely pull themselves out of that early two-set deficit.
“They kept fighting all the way to the end,” Townsell said of the Tigers. “If we would have just been a little sharper early …”
Isabelle Peterson had 20 kills and Anna Bertolone 12 for the Tigers, while Taryn Allmett and Sierra Sullivan had six each. Talyn Jackson handed out 42 assists to go with six kills.
Hailey Hughes came off the bench and put down six of her eight kills in the third and fourth sets, including a shot that closed out the third for Douglas.
Hughes, a 6-foot sophomore middle blocker, also had five solo blocks while Raychel Allen contributed 11 digs to help lead the defense.
Junior outside hitter Parker Buddy, the High Desert League’s Player of the Year, and sophomore middle blocker Kaitlyn Biassou combined for 40 kills to lead Reno. Buddy finished with 23 — 13 in the second and third sets — and Biassou added 17, of which 11 came in the opening two sets. They combined to put down four kills during a key sequence when Reno scored eight unanswered points to take a 19-10 lead in the opener.
The Huskies are now riding an eight-match win streak.
“I haven’t been keeping track of that; it’s been one game at a time, one point at a time,” Nakagawa said. “We’re a young team, but I thought (all along) we’d have a decent shot at making the playoffs. We’re just excited to be here (region champions). Anything after this is just a bonus.”
The Reno coach, whose squad faces Sunrise Region champion Silverado on Friday, didn’t discount the possibility of another match against the Tigers.
“We’ll be rooting for Douglas,” Nakagawa said. “We’d like to bring the title back up North … yes, we could end up playing each other again.”