The Lady Wave’s trip to the state volleyball tournament came down to one match at Saturday’s Northern 3A regional tournament.
Both Dayton and Fallon split the first two sets, pushing the champion to a fifth and final game with the winner advancing to this weekend’s state tournament and the loser going home for the season.
Characterized by their play in the first four sets, both Dayton and Fallon pushed each other throughout the set.
Haylee Paladini set the tone early in the set with a kill, and a long return from Dayton gave Fallon a quick 2-0 lead. The Dust Devils answered with three points on a block from Makenna Olsen, a well-paced return between Fallon’s front and back rows and a forced error.
Fallon eventually tied the set at 6 on Whitney Skabelund’s sky-high court kill, and then scored the next three points on a trio of Dayton errors for a 9-6 lead.
The Wave maintained its lead until the visitors tied the set at 12 due to Fallon committing a handful of errors at the net. Dayton tied the set on a Fallon kill that sailed out of bounds.
Dayton scored the final three points for the 15-12 win, helped by Brianna Diaz’s four service points and capped by Olsen’s kill.
Shocked by the upset to Dayton, Fallon’s players walked to the net, many of them wiping away the tears, others motionless, knowing their season ended to the No. 3-seeded team in the tournament.
Dayton grabbed the momentum in the first round 25-19 before the Wave stormed back for a 25-15 win in the second set. In the third set, Dayton stopped Fallon 25-17, and in a do-or-die fourth set, Fallon pulled out a 25-18 win.
The Dust Devils, which lost twice to Fallon during the regular season, spotted Fallon to a 2-0 lead and then roared back behind a combination for Kallie Strong’s five service points and several Fallon errors on its returns.
Diaz and Aimee Brandon controlled the net with their blocking and Diaz’s kill. The Wave, though, tied the set three times before Dayton outscored Fallon down the final stretch, 8-2, due in part to Fallon’s inability to break Dayton’s momentum.
While the first set belonged to Dayton, Fallon owned the second set with a 10-point win.
Fallon had a 7-2 lead in the second set before Dayton began to find a way to score.
The Wave relied on key plays from LeAnn Stands, a kill, Aleisa Billips, a block; and Zoey Swisher, a push to the left side.
Dayton tied the score a t 9 before the Wave outscored the Dust Devils 5-0 on two Skabelund kills and an ace from her serving, and Billips’ well-placed return.
During the final half of the set, Fallon outgunned Dayton 10-5 behind Stands’ returns, Paladini’s kills, Skabelund’s return and block; and Swisher’s push between the first and second rows form the game-winning point.
Dayton took a 2-1 set advantage in the third game.
The set teetered back and forth with the lead changing five times. With the score tied at 14, Fallon struggled as Dayton took off with an 11-3 run.
Diaz’s serving including two aces accounted for the set’s final six points.
As with the previous set, the fourth game saw numerous lead changes. Paladini played well with her outside game and kills, while Skabelund stepped up in serving. Dayton narrowed the lead to one point, 14-14, before Fallon padded its lead as Billips, Paladini and Skabelund recorded timely kills.