The second go-around for most volleyball teams in the Northern 3A presents a new set of challenges that most teams experience.
Sail through the first half of the season, but when teams play each other for the second time in less than a month, anything can happen.
After spotting South Tahoe a come-from-behind win in the first set, 26-24, Fallon and the Lady Vikings fought for every point and dove for every loose ball, but in the end, the Wave won the next three sets — 25-22, 25-20 and 25-17 — to notch another victory.
“One thing they do is they kept their composure and came back to get the win,” said Fallon coach Patty Daum of her players. “Every single game has been like that.”
Daum acknowledged the second part of the season has been tougher for the Wave. Earlier this season at South Tahoe, the Wave had an easier time on the Vikings’ court by taking three of four sets.
Fallon improved its record to 8-3 in league and 12-5 overall, but the Wave trails Truckee’s league-leading record of 10-0.
“I would like to see someone beat Truckee,” Daum said, adding she felt the team played well against the Wolverines earlier in the week.
Against the Vikings, Fallon relied on outside hitters to score many of its points, while middle blocker LeAnn Stands found herself battling her 6-foot tall South Tahoe counterparts — McKenna Brewer and Layne Hembree.
As with the first set, the second set quickly became a seesaw encounter. Haylee Paladini rocked the Vikings with her outside kills, while Stands turned up the heat in the middle with three kills of her own.
Fallon trailed by as many as three points late in the set before mounting a rally.
The tandem of Whitney Skabelund and Faith Cornmesser provided a one-two punch with Skabelund’s returns and Cornmesser’s serving to put Fallon on top, 20-18. South Tahoe errors gave Fallon two more points.
The Wave won the final three points of the set on a Kayla Buckmaster kill and another kill, this time from Paladini that rolled off a block. Paladini then added her own exclamation point by launching a service ace for the winning point.
Buckmaster had praise for Fallon’s libero, Journey Martin, who has stepped in to help the team with her defense and passing.
“Our libero has blossomed into a tree,” Buckmaster said, smiling.
As with the second set, the third proved to be just as fiery.
The Wave fell behind 5-0, unable to stop South Tahoe’s Sarah Smith at the serving line. On her sixth attempt, Smith’s serve hit the middle of the net.
Fallon chipped away at the lead, first from Buckmaster’s serving and then from a Skabelund block and two Cornmesser kills. Paladini served up a helping of two aces that froze Tahoe’s defense and also gave Fallon’s first lead of the set.
Each team traded points for the rest of the set with Fallon relying on several blocks and Zoey Swisher’s serving.
Buckmaster’s soft return between the Vikings’ first and second rows nailed the win for the Wave.
The Wave never trailed in the fourth set due to a combination of Paladini kills and Skabelund’s soft tips. The visitors became frustrated by numerous self-inflicted errors of returning the ball in the net or letting the ball fall onto their side of the curt.
Stands, though, menaced the Vikings and had two kills and a block.
Fallon closed out the set on a 6-4 run.
Skabelund was surprised with the closeness of the match.
“Everyone in the division is very close,” she said. “We have had a giant week for us. Truckee on the road, powder puff football, homecoming. We pulled together real well,” she said.
Even with the opening two-point loss against South Tahoe, the Wave roared back from a six-point deficit early in the game and although the lead changed hands five times down the stretch, the Wave had its chances to win.
Paladini’s kill gave Fallon a 24-22 lead, but an error and wayward hit tied the set, and Ashley Bricker served the final two points.