Dayton won its opening game in the 3A state tournament, but the undersized Dust Devils were unable to continue their momentum and wound up bowing out of the tournament with back-to-back losses against Bishop Manogue and Moapa Valley.
Manogue rallied back after dropping the first set and beat Dayton in an opening round match between Northern 3A division rivals 7-15, 15-8, 15-4. The Dust Devils were then bumped out of the double elimination tournament with a 15-10, 15-4 loss at the hands of Moapa Valley.
Nevertheless, Dust Devils coach Sondra McMullen was pleased with the season.
"It was a great season for a short team," said McMullen, whose club ended the season with a 14-7 overall record, 11-3 for second-place in the Northern 3A regular season. "We didn't have one star, we just had excellent leadership from our seniors and a group that pulled together and played as a team."
Seniors Jennie Morphew and Tee Baratti, at 5-foot-9, were the team's tallest players. By comparison, the Dust Devils were faced with a Manogue lineup that included 6-2 middle blocker Jackie Cowen, 6-0 setter Emily Donaldson and 6-1 outside hitter Kerry Day.
Manogue's tall trio loomed large, as Cowen delivered 11 kills, Day nine kills and three blocks and Donaldson had 35 assists.
Rachel Hurt, Cindy Wanbaugh and Morphew were credited with seven kills each for Dayton. Wanbaugh also had five service points and five assists and Cayla Reese 11 assists.
By winning its opening round match, Manogue improved to 29-3 this season. The Miners' record includes a third-place finish in the Bay Area at the Acalanes (Lafayette, Calif.) tournament, where they lost to the host team.
"We've been playing well. This is a good group of kids who have worked hard since day one," said Manogue coach Jason Sterrett. "We knew this would be a tough game because Dayton has a good, well-coached team. We've been close with them all season; they always show up to play."
Dayton pulled away at the end of game one. Wanbaugh put the ball down for sideout, then she stepped to the service line and rang up an ace to give the Dust Devils an 11-7 lead. A Renee Santos ace made it 14-7, and then the Dust Devils put it away on a Jennie Morphew kill.
"I was concerned because Dayton is a good, well-coached team. We've been close with them all season; they show up to play," Sterrett said. "But I was confident our kids could come back."
In the losers bracket elimination match, Moapa Valley jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against Dayton. The Dust Devils came back to tie it at 7-all, but that's as close as they would get the rest of the way.