The Dayton volleyball team's goal was to make the NIAA/U.S. Bank State 3A championships for the first time since 1992.
Now that Dayton has made the state tournament, the goal now might as well be to win it. Dayton, the North's No. 3 seed, begins its quest for a state title when it faces the North's No. 1 seed, Bishop Manogue at 11 a.m. Thursday at Galena High School.
"We're going to have to perform," said Dayton Coach Sondra McMullen said. "We have to step it up."
Dayton finished the Northern Nevada 3A season as the No. 2 seed going into the Northern Nevada playoffs. In the first round of the double elimination tournament, the Dust Devils swept past Lowry 15-9, 15-4.
"We played awesome, the best we played," said McMullen about the Lowry match.
But then Dayton was derailed against Manogue when sophomore middle blocker Rachel Hurt hyperextended her elbow and was unable to play for the rest of the tournament. The Dust Devils ended up losing to Manogue 6-15, 15-11, 6-15.
McMullen said Hurt is fine and will be able to play in the state tournament. But McMullen said Hurt, who normally stays in matches for defense, will only play in the front row in the state tournament. Renee Santos, who played well defensively in replacing Hurt in the Northern Nevada playoffs, will continue to play in the back row for Hurt in the state tournament.
"Rachel's arm is not 100 percent, but I need her in the front row for hitting and blocking," McMullen said.
After losing to Manogue, Dayton went on to lose to Lowry 5-15, 15-13, 13-15 to settle for the No. 3 seed in the state tournament.
No. 2 seed Lowry will play Moapa Valley from the South in the other first round state match. "They're always very exceptional," said McMullen about Moapa Valley.
But McMullen said she believes that all three teams from the North are strong. She noted that the only 4A team that Manogue lost to was Fallon.
Looking at how the season has gone, the tournament should be wide open. Even though Dayton has lost to Manogue all three times this year, it did take Manogue to three games last week.
"Actually I prefer this," said McMullen about playing Manogue. "We know kind of what to expect.
"We know we can play with them. We went three games with them without one of our starters."
Dayton has split its four matches with Lowry this year. In the Northern Nevada playoffs, Lowry and Manogue split their two matches.
"It's going to be a good tournament," McMullen said. "I think there will be some real close matches."