The Lady Wave volleyball team spent most of last decade with a large target on its back after winning consecutive state championships in Division I.
Now, three years removed from dropping down to the Division I-A, Fallon continues to climb back to competing in the state tournament. But with Truckee and South Tahoe dominating the headlines from the North, it leaves Fallon flying under the radar this season, especially after Patty Daum lost eight seniors from last year.
“All you can do is improve and get better every day,” Daum said. “It’s huge as long as you get better every single day.”
The longtime volleyball coach, though, enjoys adopting the darkhorse title for 2013.
“Everyone always wants the golden ring. I really do think we can be a darkhorse,” she said. “We’ll play under the radar and work with each other and get better. I don’t mind being the dark horse.”
Fallon returns seniors Mary Scholz and Sheila Clifford and juniors Ali Tedford and Evan Matheson, while welcoming two juniors and six sophomores.
Daum, who’s assisted by Margaret Ramos (freshmen) and Angela de Braga (junior varsity), will be without Colleen Meihack, who stepped down after last season. Meihack and Daum tag-teamed as head coach for one year last decade while in the Division I before both came back to stay with the program. Meihack assisted Daum until after last season.
“She worked hard and had a wealth of knowledge,” Daum said of Meihack, whose two daughters, Monica and Alyssa, played collegiately. Alyssa Meihack’s finishing her last year in New Mexico.
With only two seniors on this year’s squad, Daum said they have assumed the leadership role well.
“They’re taking responsibility of this team, which is nice,” she said. “The other kids really respect them and like them. It makes a big difference. They’re two of the nicest kids.”
Even with the inexperience on the varsity club, Daum isn’t worried about the growing pains Fallon could experience this season because most of the team has club experience.
“With a young team, we have to work with athletic maturity,” Daum said. “We have great sophomores. They enjoy it. They want to learn.”
Defense has been the top priority in practice.
“It’s always been about the defense with us. We don’t have a big-time hitter. It’s defense first, then offense.”
Daum, though, took the blame for Fallon’s late-season struggles, saying that the team didn’t stay competitive and progress well enough as the Lady Wave entered league play against Fernley and Dayton.
“We should have made it to state. We didn’t progress like we should have,” Daum said.
Fallon shocked the Division I schools during the first month when it took Reno to five games before shutting down McQueen on the road with a three-game sweep. Fallon, though, lost both bouts with Fernley and dropped the first meeting against Dayton before winning the second encounter. The Dust Devils, though, exacted revenge in the playoffs, knocking off the Lady Wave in the first round.
“We just have to compete and be relentless on competing 100 percent of the time. We can’t have gaps of letting up,” Daum said.
Juniors Allyson Hernandez and Shelby Smith, sophomores Megan McCormick, Taylor Amezquita, Kyla Kincaid, Miranda Ford, Kristen Arviso and Izzy Thomas are new to the 2013 squad and will need to shake off the early-season jitters of playing on varsity if they want to reach the postseason. Arviso could be out to begin the season with a possible fracture suffered during scrimmages last week.
The road to the postseason, including state, will have a familiar feel as South Tahoe and Truckee look to battle for supremacy in the Northern DI-A. The Wolverines defeated the Vikings for the regional title but Truckee lost in the state semifinals as South Tahoe won the championship.
Ironically, though, Fallon swept South Tahoe in crossover play while Truckee won its only match with the Lahontan club in four games.
“Truckee just has a very successful program,” Daum said. “The great thing about volleyball is it’s a game of momentum. I don’t think that there’s anyone who’s the big dog. It’s anyone’s game on any night.”