Volleyball: Whittell surprises Douglas at home | RecordCourier.com

Volleyball: Whittell surprises Douglas at home

by Joey Crandall

How exactly does an early-season tune-up against a 2A school become an epic battle?

Just throw Whittell High School into the mix.

Whittell, a school of a little more than 200 students, waltzed in to Douglas High School Monday night and upset the Tiger volleyball squad in an amazing five-game battle that went back and forth for more than two hours before the Warriors emerged victorious.

The Warriors finished ninth in the High Sierra Volleyball Invitational over the weekend and defeated Elko and nearly defeated defending Northern 4A champ Galena.

Warrior coach Dan McLaughlin, who coaches seven of Douglas’ 10 players at the Capital City Volleyball Club in Carson City, led the scrappy defending 2A state champions, mostly teammates of the Tiger girls in the off-season, in claiming the upset.

“It was a great game,” Douglas coach Velvet Steel said. “The girls played great and their hearts were in it and I wouldn’t ask for anything more.”

From the opening serve, it was apparent that it would be a real shame for anyone to have to lose the match.

The squads battled back and forth, volleying sometimes more than 10 times per point.

Both teams had players sprawling out and diving for the ball all night.

Whittell managed spectacular save after spectacular save and used gutsy play at the net to keep Douglas off-balance.

But Douglas answered with powerful play from its own net players as Monica Knight put home 18 kills and Dawson Joyce-Mendive recorded 13 kills. Katy Marsh dished out 25 assists and Whitney Estes had six kills of her own.

Estes and Erin Fitzgerald formed a rock-solid blocking wall throughout the game.

Whittell claimed the opening set 25-17, but Douglas fought back to take the second set 25-23.

The Warriors pulled out to an 18-13 lead in the third set, but the Tigers worked their way back in to tie the set at 24-24.

The two teams traded points up to 28, and then Douglas pulled ahead with Kayla Dunn serving, setting up a long rally point ending with Marsh setting up Knight for a kill to take the set.

Whittell claimed the fourth set 25-21, and the two teams battled to a 10-10 tie before four consecutive Tiger errors put the Warriors within a point of the win.

Then the Warriors caught the error bug, giving away three straight points before Marsh set up Knight to tie the game back up. Each team took turns pulling in front to come within a point of winning it, but the Warriors were finally able to close the game out with a 20-18 win.

– Joey Crandall can be reached at jcrandall@recordcourier.com or at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.