Douglas seniors returning to state
Qualifying to play in one state tournament is a special achievement for any high school athletic team.
Douglas High’s Isabelle Peterson, Taryn Allmett, Raychel Allen and Talyn Jackson are now getting a chance to make it twice as nice after earning a return trip to the NIAA 4A State Volleyball Tournament this week in Reno. The four seniors, who played together for the Tigers’ 2014 region championship and state qualifying team, continued another late season run Thursday night with a come-from-behind 3-1 win against Spanish Springs in the region tournament semifinals at Galena High School in Reno.
“This is a great way to end our senior year,” said Allen, the Tigers’ starting libero. “It’s just exciting the way we’ve come out strong and played together as a team.”
Added Allmett: Douglas (25-9 overall) rebounded from an opening-set loss to get past the High Desert League champion Cougars 17-25, 25-20, 25-14, 25-18. By winning, Douglas (25-9 overall) advanced to face the Reno Huskies in the region finals on Saturday afternoon and qualified for its second state berth in three years. The two finalists advance to the 4A state tournament this coming Friday and Saturday at Damonte Ranch High.
“To end the season this way, is really cool,” said Allmett, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter. “To go (to state) twice is awesome.”
The Tigers punched their ticket to state with the aid of a regular season-ending win over Carson that clinched second-place in the Sierra League, followed by back-to-back postseason wins over talented McQueen and Spanish Springs squads. The semifinal featured two of the North’s most successful coaches — Suzi Townsell, 229-82 in 10 seasons as head coach, including a state title in 2010; and Frank Sandomenico, who is stepping down after nine seasons as head coach at Spanish Springs with a 207-102 overall record and a state title in 2012. For the Tigers, it also reversed two regular season losses to the Cougars.
Spanish Springs (32-8) saw its path to victory literally blocked by a stellar defensive effort in which the Tigers put down 18 blocks as a team. Spanish Springs jumped out on top 6-0 and never trailed on its way to winning the first set behind the hot hand of 5-11 senior outside hitter Emily Moore, who had eight kills in the set, according to the Sparks Tribune. From that point on, however, it was all Douglas.
“We got on a roll … it was great to see,” Townsell said. “Our blocking was definitely a big part of that. Blocking is always your first line of defense, and even if you don’t get a stuff block, you’re going to slow the ball down so the defense can pick it up … and we started to pick everything up.”
It didn’t take a lot to motivate the Tigers, Peterson added.
“I think we all just hate losing,” the 5-11 middle blocker said.
Peterson led the way with seven blocks, while Jackson and junior Alex DeMaranville-Robinson added five each. Allen also contributed a team-high 11 digs and Madison Rozier nine.
Freshman Anna Bertolone put down 17 kills in 31 attempts (53.1 kill percentage) and Peterson added 15 kills on 26 attempts (57.7 percent) to lead Douglas at the net. Overall, the Tigers finished with a 51.0 percent kill percentage.
Jackson handed out 40 assists to go with seven kills and nine service points, seven digs and five blocks.
“After getting beat by them twice, it was nice to get redemption,” said Jackson, a 5-11 setter who is graduating from Douglas one year early in order to pursue an offer to play at Virginia Tech next year.
Rozier had 19 points, while Peterson and Allmett added 14 each.
The region championship match Saturday — 4 p.m. at Galena — will feature No. 2 seeds from their respective leagues. Reno rallied to knock off defending region champion Bishop Manogue on Thursday, 3-1. The Huskies won 24-26, 25-23, 25-21, 25-21.
“They’re a good team,” Jackson said of the Huskies. “They’re like us in that they’ve improved a lot over the season. They’re playing at a high level right now.”
The Tigers had one goal in mind, according to Allmett.
“We’ll definitely have to bring our A game,” she said.