Sierra League challenge awaits Tigers |

Sierra League challenge awaits Tigers

Very little has changed from last year as far as the Sierra League volleyball playoff picture is concerned. The top four teams are back with many familiar faces on the court to compete for the league lead — and for the top of the Northern Division I mountain overall.

Just consider that three of those teams were semifinalists in the 2014 region tournament and what they have returning. Defending tournament champion Douglas (20-13 overall record) has seven returning varsity veterans. Bishop Manogue, the defending league champion (27-7), and region tournament runner-up Carson (18-10) have virtually all of their statistical leaders back. Add to that mix Damonte Ranch (24-11) with a senior-laden roster to round out what promises to be a highly competitive season between now and November.

“Manogue, Carson and Damonte will be bringing it again this year since they did not really change teams from last year,” Douglas coach Suzi Townsell said. “We are looking forward to the matches ahead with those teams.”

Douglas had to go the five-set distance to win all three of its region matches last November, including come-from-behind wins against McQueen in the first round and Carson in the finals. The Tigers also knocked off Manogue in the semifinals en route to their second region title in four years.

“We are going to have a scrappy tough working team that will only get better as they play together,” she added. “The chemistry is awesome … such a good feeling we have with each other. It’s inspiring and fun.”

The Tigers open their season today against three quality opponents at the 25th annual Las Vegas Invitational. All three matches should be challenging: 3 p.m. against Ramona, Calif., 31-7 and defending CIF San Diego Section Division II champion; 5 p.m. against Boulder City 24-9-1 and Division IA Sunrise League champion, then 8 p.m. against Foothill (Henderson) 24-16 and Southern Nevada Division I Sunrise Region Tournament runner-up last season.

“Those should be good starter matches for us,” Townsell said.

Among the returnees for Douglas are junior Raychel Allen (second-team all-league libero/defensive specialist), 5-10 junior outside hitter Isabelle Peterson and 5-11 sophomore setter Talyn Jackson, both honorable mention all-league selections. Also coming back are 5-11 junior Taryn Allmett, 6-foot senior Aubrey Caires, senior Sophie Byrne and senior Johnnie Saletti.

“We have a solid group of 12 girls on the team … a nice blend of returners and younger players who are kicking their butt to push the returners and in turn getting better every day,” Townsell said.

Allison Dodd, a 6-2 junior, is expected to give the Tigers a boost coming up from the JV squad.

Freshman Maddi Rozier is expected to contribute as a setter working along with Jackson.

“Maddi is doing a wonderful job so far,” Townsell said. “Talyn is being an amazing role model for Maddi on the court. They are working really well together.”

Douglas returns home to play two non-league matches against Fallon on Tuesday and two-time defending Division III state champion Yerington on Wednesday.