Book closes on successful Douglas volleyball season
November 15, 2016
It wasn't exactly the finish the Douglas Tigers had hoped for. Then again, being one of the final four Nevada 4A volleyball teams left standing is not too bad.
"We are amazingly proud of our team," coach Suzi Townsell said after the Tigers' 3-0 loss to Bishop Gorman in the state tournament semifinals on Friday night in Reno. "At the end of the season, being among the top 4 in the state is quite an accomplishment with as many 4A schools there are in Nevada."
Douglas capped off its season with a 25-11 record, including second-place finishes in the Sierra League and Northern 4A Region Tournament. In the end, the Tigers simply came up short against a motivated Gorman (29-10) team that went on to win its first state volleyball title.
The Gaels defeated Douglas by scores of 25-20, 26-24, 25-16. They came back the following night to knock off Reno, 3-1, in the state finals (25-14, 25-21. 23-25, 25-15).
"They have talent, but we had the ability to win," Tigers setter Talyn Jackson said Friday night. "It (losing) was disappointing. We definitely wanted to win state. But it was exciting to be here for the second time in three years."
Jackson, a junior who is graduating a year early to pursue a volleyball offer from Virginia Tech dished out 20 assists and Isabelle Peterson led Douglas at the net with 10 kills.
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Tommi Stockham put down 12 kills while Sydney Lobato handed out 17 assists and delivered two crucial late kills to help the Gaels rally back to win a back-and-forth second set.
"This is a balanced team," Gorman coach Ed Van Meetren said. "We can attack from anywhere on the court and with different hitters."
Douglas was on the brink of winning that second set with leads of 23-21 and 24-22. The Gaels were able to rally back, however, capped by four straight kills from the left side. Lobato, a junior, delivered two of those kills, while Hanna Karl and Stockham accounted for the other two.
The score was tied 11 times during the set and the lead changed hands four times.
Van Meetren pointed out that he regularly lights up the scoreboard during practice to simulate Gorman's opponent holding a lead.
"We practice coming from behind every day," he said. "We were down to Shadow Ridge 11-7 and 14-11 (in the Sunset Region final the previous Saturday) and came back to win, so the girls are confident in that situation."
He went on to point out that Stockham is just 14 years old and Karl is 15.
"They're the real deal; they play like seasoned veterans," Van Meetren said of the two freshmen.
Douglas played tough in the opening set and was within 10-8, 17-16 and 19-17. Gorman led by four points and had a run going when the Tigers received a big play from libero Raychel Allen, whose diving dig on a tip to open space in the middle kept the ball alive. Moments later, the Gaels hit the ball wide and the Tigers were back within 17-13.
"I feel that's the strongest we've started as a team," said Allen, who had five digs in the first set and 19 overall for the match. "We did give ourselves a fighting chance. We just seemed to lose some energy at the end."
Gorman surged to a 7-1 lead at the outset of the third set. The Tigers rallied back to within 17-13, however, they never managed to pull any closer than that.
Even so, Townsell was strictly upbeat when reflecting on the season.
"Many of our season goals were met and that's a big success," she noted. "Representing Douglas High School in regionals and then state was a true pleasure for all of us … can't wait until next season."