DAYTON — The seventh game of a World Series. The NCAA Final Four. The seventh game of the NBA Championship.
All three are big events, but none have anything on Dayton’s battle against Truckee in Saturday’s Division 1A regional volleyball championship in terms of emotion and excitement.
Behind 28 kills by Madi Foley and 20 more by Ashley Vickers, the Dust Devils were extended to five sets for the first time all season in a 21-25, 25-23, 27-25, 22-25 and 16-14 win over the Wolverines to win the regional crown.
That win, coupled with the 25-14, 25-15 and 25-13 semifinal win over Lowry, pushed Dayton’s record to 35-1 overall heading into next week’s state tournament at Green Valley High School. Dayton will play Boulder City at 2 p.m. Friday, while Truckee meets Faith Lutheran at 3:45 p.m. Dayton will be seeking its second state title in school history. The first one came back in 2004.
It was payback of sorts. A year ago, Truckee knocked off Dayton in five sets to advance to the regional finals, thus earning a trip to state. To show you how close this match actually was, the biggest lead of the match was 8-2 in the first set. In the first and second sets, the biggest margin was five points. The biggest lead in the fourth set was four points, and the biggest lead in the fifth set was three points. In the rally scoring era, that’s a close match.
Dayton coach Monica Halverson said the long match should prepare the Dust Devils to play against tough competition this coming week in Las Vegas.
“We’ve never gone to five sets before,” Halverson said. “Most of the time we win in three. This will totally help us next week.”
“It’s good,” added Foley. “I don’t think it was anything they did (to extend us to five). We didn’t play like we usually do. I think we kind of got scared. We did what we needed to do.”
Despite falling short of the upset, Truckee coach Erica Murphy was pleased.
“I’m proud of my team,” Murphy said. “They had never been taken to five games. Our stats have gotten better every time we have played them. We came in and took the first set.”
The fifth set was a back and forth affair. The game was tied all the way through 8-8.
Dayton pushed ahead 11-8 on kills by Foley and Vickers plus a hitting error by Truckee. Kills by Foley and Vickers kept the lead at three, 13-10. Consecutive kills by Mackenzie Redner trimmed Dayton’s lead to 13-12. Foley pounded down her 27th kill of the match to make it 14-12. Lettie Lynch tried to drop in a soft ace on the left side, but it went wide, and then Dayton had a hitting error which enabled Truckee to tie the game at 14. Another Foley kill, she had seven in the fifth game alone, made it 15-14. Vickers added match point moments later much to the delight of the partisan crowd. Vickers hit at a .285 clip, second on the team to Foley’s .375.
In the opening set, Truckee bolted to an 8-2 lead, as Dayton setter Peach Coons, who finished with 26 assists, was called for double hits on three straight sets. Behind Foley, Vickers and Lynch, Dayton fought back to a 9-all tie. The game was tied at 11, 12 and 13 before Truckee went on a 6-2 run to take a 19-16 lead. Redner had two kills in that span, Becca Berelson had a kill and Dayton had a service error. The Dust Devils had 17 service errors in the match.
“We didn’t have a great serving match,” Halverson said. “It might have been the worst of the season.”
Two kills and an ace by Redner made it 23-19. A kill by Foley and a hitting error made it 23-21. Dayton made two more errors, enabling Truckee to take the first set.
In the second set, Truckee enjoyed leads of 9-3 and 18-13. Redner had a couple of hits in that span. Dayton was called for four bad sets and had three service errors.
Dayton stormed back with a vengeance, scoring 11 of the next 12 points for a 24-19 lead. Truckee had five hitting errors in that stretch. Kaylee Turner had a couple of kills, Vickers had a kill and Foley served up an ace for the Dust Devils. A bad set by Coons, a kill by Lauren Peak and an ace by Chelsea Mohun cut the lead to 24-23. Vickers pounded a spike moments later to tie the match.
The third set was tied 11 different times. It was also Foley’s least productive game. She had four kills and two hitting errors.
Dayton went on an 8-2 run to take a 16-11 lead, as Foley had an ace and Vickers a kill. Truckee scored eight unanswered points for a 19-16 lead. Anais Fay had two stuff blocks, Elizabeth Costa had a kill and Redner added a kill. Foley’s two kills enabled the Dust Devils to tie the match at 20. The teams traded points the rest of the way until a double hit and net violation by Truckee enabled Dayton to break a 25-all tie and win 27-25 for a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth game, Vickers had two kills late in the game to give the Dust Devils a 22-20 lead. That was the last offense Dayton could muster. A serve error and two hitting errors plus a kill by Redner enabled Truckee to even the match with a 25-22 win.
The Dust Devils played the fourth game without Coons, who injured her wrist in a spill on the court. Shalia Powell stepped in and finished with 30 assists for the match, though he was called for several double hits.
“Shalia stepped in and did a good job,” Halverson said. “I think Peach will be fine. She needs to ice it and rest it Sunday, Monday and maybe Tuesday.”