The Greenwave varsity volleyball team showed signs of improvement in their home match against South Tahoe, with a 3-1 victory. The Lady Wave is currently at 7-8 overall and 1-2 in the league, while the Vikings are at 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the league.
“First of all, this is what I’ve always known they were able to play like,” said Fallon coach Patty Daum. “Closing the game is something we’ve struggled with in the past. The way we lost to Winnemucca, Galena, Truckee was that we would lose by close margins and that as soon as the other girls gained momentum we wouldn’t be able to shut them down.”
“We were a lot mentally stronger on this game when the momentum swung South Tahoe’s way,” said Daum. “The girls took back the momentum and and finished strong with the win.”
The match was characterized by the presence of the Lady Wave’s potential to let nothing hit the floor, particularly in the first set where junior Kayla Buckmaster saved the ball with a long and painful looking dive that kept the Vikings from being able to tie up the score and let the Wave win the first set at 25-22.
The Wave has also had trouble in the past with unforced errors, clear in their net play in previous games. Daum expressed her pride that the girls were able to cut their average of four unforced errors down to two this match.
“We always lose on unforced errors like quicksand,” she said. “We always step into it, and this game we were able to avoid it.”
This much stronger net game was almost lost in the second set when the Wave began to lose points to strong consecutive kills by the Vikings, particuarly to Vikings senior Korrine Brickers, spiking down on a weak spot on the right side of the Wave’s defense, where the girls couldn’t maintain in-bounds blocking, that allowed the Vikiings to win the second set, 25-18.
Nonetheless, the Wave’s aggression was clear and present, and began to show again in the third-set when senior captain Kyla Kincaid kept the ball up with impressive running saves that kept the Vikings away from the right side of the court and allowed the Wave to shut them down at the net.
This, combined with a kill to the Vikings’ narrow gap by Wave junior Whitney Skabelund allowed the Wave to come from behind a brief tie let the Wave stop the Vikings’ momentum as Daum said.
Though the Vikings were nipping at their heels with two points lost to out of bounds blocking, the Wave still managed to take the third set, 25-23.
Though it was clear the Wave were able to shut down the Vikings, few could’ve predicted the players would keep so much of their momentum in the fourth set, a more aggressive team than any were used to seeing, defending their lead at all costs. The Vikings were not letting up in the beginning, competing at the net with the Wave for longer than in any of the previous sets with most of their points going to the same right-side gap in the Wave defense.
This incited more aggression from Fallon, with particular attention to their right side once again by senior Kincaid that let junior Haylee Paladini shine with the second highest number of successful kills (seven total) with three of them in the fourth set. Paladini had been struggling earlier in the second set to maintain inbounds serving, but her aggressive improvement allowed the Wave to win the fourth set with their biggest lead of the match yet at 25-17 and the last win needed to take the match.
In light of their clear and present aggression, Daum attributed this to the Wave’s improvement in practices and the willingness to immerse themselves in the pace of a real match when it was just the players.
“We changed up how we approached practice,” Daum pointed out in attributing the girls’ recent improvements. “Practices have been highly competitive with more consequences, and with the girls playing more aggressively for points. What we were doing before wasn’t working, so we made a change.”
The Lady Wave has an away match against Sparks today and will be hosting Spring Creek and Elko on Friday and Saturday respectively.
“Both (Spring Creek and Elko) play really well on the road,” said Daum. “Those kids really step up when they come into someone else’s gym. We’re going to hopefully play as strong away against Sparks tomorrow, and when we’re back we can’t afford to overlook anyone.”