Trailblazers too tall for Grizzlies

RENO -- Coming off an emotional win the night before, the Galena High School volleyball team tried to come up with an encore performance against Durango in the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Tournament semifinals Friday night. Even playing in their own gym before a good home crowd didn't help the Grizzlies because Durango swept to victory in three straight games.

Durango led virtually start to finish to win 15-10, 15-5, 15-7 and advance into the championship round match today against Fallon. Fallon (30-1) staged a major comeback to reach the finals with a five-set victory against Silverado.

Durango (36-4) and Fallon (30-1) meet at 4 p.m. in the Galena gym in a matchup between programs that have both won recent state championships. Durango won in 1997 and Fallon won back-to-back in 1999-2000.

Galena (26-13) knocked off defending state champion Green Valley in a four-game battle on Thursday. The Grizzlies were unable to continue their momentum against Durango.

"We were a little flat and a little tired from last night; it showed and unfortunately we didn't give our best," Galena coach Teresa Burrows said. "We knew coming in that we were going to have a tough time with them, but when we come out and we're not flying around like we did last night and stuff like that, a good team is going to take advantage of that, and they did."

Durango has yet to so much as lose a game so far during the Sunset Regional and state tournament play, and if that doesn't sound scary enough, coach Bob Kelly felt the Trailblazers took their game up a notch in this one.

"I thought we played much better tonight," Durango coach Bob Kelly said. "I think our size made a difference. We started blocking better in games two and three.

Just as they did in Thursday's opening round win over Douglas, the Trailblazers spread out their attack. Kelsey Johnson, a 6-foot outside hitter, knocked down 11 kills to go with four solo blocks, nine digs and three service aces. Middle blocker Natalie Smart contributed eight kills; 6-1 junior setter Amy Schlauder had six kills, 11 digs and 30 assists; Heather Bravo six kills, four aces and seven digs; and Jessica Acuna six kills, three aces and 12 digs.

Those 10 aces were important, according to Kelly.

"We had 10 service aces and numerous serves that I thought kept them off balance, which allowed us to get a lot of down balls and free balls," Kelly said. "Also, I thought our sideout game was very good. They had to work hard to get the ball.

"Galena is a very good team, too. They came out in game one and played an excellent game and I'm glad they did because that forced us to keep up with them. That kind of set the tone for the rest of the match."

Joanna Hixon led Galena, as the senior outside hitter delivered 12 kills, 11 digs and one block. Lydia Mailander also had seven kills and Whitney Dibble five blocks (four solo).

Durango took 6-0 to start game one before Galena rallied back to tie it at 6. The Grizzlies went up 8-7, but that would prove to be their only lead of the night.

"I was thinking if we kind of stay with them close, the girls would get started a little bit," Burrows said. "Unfortunately, we didn't respond in the second game as well as I had hoped. But give Durango credit, they kept coming at us."

Of course there was the consolation of advancing to the state tournament and then getting to the semifinals.

"I was very proud of how the girls played last night (against Green Valley)," Burrows said. "Overall, I thought we had a great season."


Carly Sorensen and Tristin Adams combined to put down 48 kills as the Northern 4A champion Greenwave came back to defeat the Skyhawks, 14-16, 7-15, 15-9, 15-8, 15-7.

Sorensen had 28 kills while Adams delivered 20 kills and handed out 35 assists to lead Fallon. Korey Ellis also had 16 kills.

Silverado rallied from a 10-4 deficit to win the opening game, taking a 15-14 lead on a kill by freshman Samantha Richard and then putting it away on Elyssa Mudd's service ace.


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