Two points separated the Lady Wave volleyball team from reaching the playoffs this season.
Coming into the final week of the regular season, Fallon needed a win over Lowry to clinch the final playoff berth and keep its season alive. The Buckaroos had the Lady Wave down 2-0 but Fallon stormed back and ultimately fell short in five games to end any chances of playing in November.
The good news for Fallon, though, is Patty Daum spent the season integrating inexperienced newcomers with several returners as the Lady Wave loses only two seniors from this year’s team. Fallon lost eight the year before.
“They’re really young,” Daum said. “Losing that many seniors the year before, we ended up pulling up from the JV but the kids still played hard. There were times when we couldn’t close the game out.”
Mary Scholz and Sheila Clifford will graduate in the spring, while 10 players return next year to help Fallon reach the postseason and earn a trip to the state tournament, which hasn’t happened since 2011.
Replacing Scholz and Clifford will be difficult as both contributed to Fallon’s rebuilding this season. The Lady Wave finished one game above .500 (14-13, 6-9 league), while playoff teams, like Dayton and Truckee, will lose many seniors, which could open the door for Fallon next year. Dayton won the regional tournament this season over Truckee.
The key for Fallon getting into the postseason will be to continue offseason workouts and participate in club volleyball. Daum, though, said some of the teams in the leagues have players who have started to focus more on playing one sport, as opposed to Fallon, which had many two- and three-sport athletes.
“They play it 12 months a year. They don’t play any other sport,” she said. “They’re going to have that advantage with more touches on the ball.”
But the longtime Fallon coach isn’t letting that distract her girls from trying to reach that goal.
“All the kids want to compete at the next level (state),” Daum said. “It’s just taking it one game at a time. I’ve never had a kid who didn’t want to make it to the next level. Whether it’s regional or state, they’ve always shot high.”
Scholz, a first-team, all-league selection, was an offensive catalyst for Daum this season as she led the team in kills and had a hand in serving and defense. While Clifford’s numbers don’t pop out as much as Scholz’s, her experience and leadership helped molded the younger players, which included six sophomores.
“I always feel very bad for the outgoing seniors,” Daum said. “Next year coming back, we will have more experience. A majority of the kids are willing to learn and listen. We don’t have to deal with any egos. We need to work hard in the offseason and in the summer. We’ll see what happens.”
Scholz led the team in kills with 108 as she was the only one to eclipse the 100 mark, while junior Ali Tedford, a second-team selection, recorded 79 and junior Evan Matheson had 64. Tedford, though, led the team in attack percentage with .422 while Scholz averaged .275 and Matheson finished at .255.
Five players finished in double digits from the service line as sophomore Megan McCormick, who garnered an all-league honorable mention, led the team in aces with 17. Sophomore Taylor Amezquita recorded 12 aces, while sophomore Kyla Kincaid, Scholz and Tedford each had 11.
McCormick and Matheson dominated the net as the duo led the team in blocks, passing the 30 mark. McCormick finished with a team-high 19 solos and 13 assists, while Matheson had 17 solos and 13 assists. Amezquita and Tedford tallied 17 and 12 total blocks, respectively.
Tedford was the team’s best digger as she led with 34 digs and Scholz finished with 20. Four others finished with double digits as McCormick, Kincaid and Amezquita each had 16 and sophomore Miranda Ford had 11.
Tedford and Amezquita shared setter duties during the season with Tedford leading the team with 191 while her counterpart finishing with 89.
Juniors Allyson Hernandez and Shelby Smith and sophomores Izzy Thomas and Kristyn Arvizo will also return for the Lady Wave next year.
“Volleyball’s extremely competitive,” Daum said. “It’s highly competitive because of the enforcement of club. But we need to deal with it and take care of our backyard and get ready for next season.”