Carson High’s hopes of sweeping its High Desert counterparts ended Thursday night in unimpressive fashion.
The Senators, after rolling to five straight wins to open the Division I season, were given a defensive clinic by the McQueen Lancers, 22-25, 23-25, 25-16 and 14-25 at Morse Burley Gymnasium.
The loss droped Carson to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in league play.
“Our defense killed us,” Carson coach Robert Maw said after a lengthy chat with his team following the four-set setback. “It was a lack of effort to work hard and we weren’t staying low. I thought McQueen’s defense was good. They played defense really well.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. They (the girls) knew that. We needed a match like this.”
McQueen took every big hit Carson delivered, and the Lancers were able to counterpunch, something no other northern Nevada team had been able to do against the Senators.
“Our blocking was really good,” McQueen coach Jeff Zimmerman said. “We got our hands on a lot of balls and kept them alive, and instead of having to hit a downball back, we were able to run some transition offense.”
It will be interesting to see how Carson responds. The Senators open Sierra League play next Tuesday at home against Damonte Ranch, and then travel to Phoenix for a big three-day tournament.
“This is only our second loss,” Maw pointed out. “This is a pretty resilient group. I’m confident they wil be fine. We have three days of practice before we play again, and then we’re off to Arizona. We’ll see if we have a desire to work a little on our defense.”
In the opening set, there were five early ties and nine total.
Leading 18-17, McQueen rolled off five straight points for a 23-17 advantage, as Sierra Starbuck had a kill and Alyssa Zucco served up an ace. Carson setter Natalie Anderson was called for a net violation and Kylie Riske had a hitting error. The Senators stormed back with four straight points as Anderson sparked the rally with a nice dink. After Holly White and Natalie Anderson traded kills to make it 24-22, White gave the Lancers a one-game edge with her third kill of the game.
The second set followed much the same pattern. There were 16 ties, and the teams were never separated by more than three points the entire way (7-4 McQueen was the biggest lead of the set).
With the score tied at 23, Natalie Anderson was called for a double hit on two consecutive rallies to give McQueen the game and a 2-0 lead. It was the first time in northern Nevada play the Senators found themselves down 2-0.
Carson responded well.
Leading 11-10, the Senators went on a 10-1 surge to open up a 21-11 lead. Juliana Anderson had two kills and Jaycie Roberts added a kill. Freshman Abby Pradere served up an ace. Pradere had an impresive match with 15 digs. She also did a nice job passing the ball.
“Based on how she played tonight, I see her playing a lot more in the back row,” Maw said.
McQueen closed to 22-15 on the strength of two kills by White, but a dink by Natalie Anderson and a hard kill by Maddie Jergesen ended the game and avoided an embarrassing sweep.
“Our offense seemed to flow better,” Maw said. “Our passing was sharp and our serves were strong and consistent. When our passing is good, we have a lot of options.”
The quick-set tempo Carson likes to run never really materialized except for a few instances. Maw said that had to do with serve receive and bumping the ball.
“We struggled offensively that game,” Zimmerman said. “We lost a little intensity. Carson is a good team. Offensively we weren’t putting the ball away when we had the chance.”
The momentum Carson built with the third-set win stayed around for a portion of the fourth game, and then McQueen got hot and Carson faded, unwilling or unable to fight back.
Carson had a 12-10 lead after two kills by Juliana Anderson and a hitting error by Hanna Spevak. McQueen went on a 6-0 run to take a 16-12. Spevak and Aubrey Pitts had kills, and Juliana Anderson had two hitting errors in that stretch.
After McQueen’s Malia Redmon hit long to make it 16-13, the Lancers scored three straight, one of which was an ace by Spevak. Keelin Pilgrim knocked one down to make it 19-14, but the Lancers closed out the game and match with six straight points. Twice Carson was called for two hits on a set, and on a third point, the ball was allowed to drop when there was no communication. There was also a net violation. White did have a kill in that stretch.
Save for a few plays here and there, this could have been a Carson sweep. The first two games were definitely up for grabs. This could have been a preview of a regional semifinal. Clearly, McQueen is the class of the High Desert, and the Lancers might be the only HD team to win in the first round.
“I could see that,” Zimmerman said. “Carson and Manogue are really good, and I think Manogue is the team to beat. Carson, Manogue, Damonte and Douglas are all really good.”