RENO — Six times this season, the Carson High volleyball team had emerged victorious in five-set matches.
The Senators, the queens of long matches, weren’t so fortunate in their seventh attempt.
Carson extended Reno to five sets for just the second time this year, but was eliminated in the 4A semifinals, 26-24, 29-31, 13-25, 25-21 and 7-15 at Reno High School on Thursday.
Carson ended its season at 19-14, while Reno improved to 31-2 and will play for a regional title Saturday at 4 p.m. against Bishop Manogue, a 3-0 winner against McQueen in Thursday’s other semifinal.
“It is hard to see a loss, but these girls have so much fight in them, so much,” Carson coach Robert Maw said. “We had a good season. I wanted to go five sets. I’ll take a 6-1 record in five-set matches.
“The girls kept hitting and kept fighting. I’m extremely proud of them. It was a great effort. I would have liked to get to 20 wins.”
The Senators impressed Reno coach Kuna Nakagawa, whose team swept Carson way back on Aug. 29 in the season-opening match.
“Carson definitely came prepared to play five sets,” Nakagawa said. “They took us to the limit.”
After Carson knotted the match with a 25-21 win in the fourth set on the strength of six kills by Stefanie Schmidt, the Huskies came back with a vengeance, scoring the first five points of the final set as Kaitlynn Bissaou had two kills to lead the surge.
“She (Bissaou) was too much for us,” Maw said. “She is extremely quick, and we had trouble dealing with her. She has great court sense.”
“The last set we got down 5-0, and you can’t do that,” said Shea DeJoseph, who led the Senators with 19 kills. “They netted a serve, and that’s how we got the ball. That can’t happen. It has got to be us. I’m 100 percent so proud of how we played.”
Carson never got closer than five points the rest of the set. At 12-7, Reno scored the last three points to end it.
“We just didn’t get the ball to Natalie (in a good position) that last set,” Maw said. “We shanked a couple of serves. We couldn’t run our tempo (consistently) because they were too quick for us. The slide play worked well for us.”
The night started in promising fashion, as Carson scored nine of the first 12 points. It was Reno, not Carson, that seemed to feel the pressure early.
The Huskies, trailing 21-17, scored seven straight to grab the lead for the first time, 24-21. Carson had three hitting errors in that stretch.
Carson roared back with five straight points, as Dajarrah Navarro came up with a big stuff block, and then combined with DeJoseph for a block on Kyra Johannessen. The latter play gave Carson a 25-24 lead, and then Natalie Anderson served up an ace to end the set.
The second set was a classic.
It featured 15 ties before the Huskies scored three straight points to wipe out a 29-28 deficit and grab the 31-29 win. Johannessen had two kills and then a DeJoseph hitting error ended it.
Carson had a 21-16 lead at one point before Reno went on a 6-1 run. The Senators had three different set points, but were unable to get over the hump.
“That was huge,” Nakagawa said. “If we had gone down 2-0 who knows what would have happened? It would have been tough for us.”
“That was huge for them,” Maw said. “That set took a little out of it, and you could see that in the third set.”
Reno controlled the third set, scoring seven of the first eight points. After Carson trimmed the lead to 7-3, the Huskies went on a 12-4 surge to go ahead 19-7. Five of those points came on Carson miscues.
If the Huskies expected Carson to roll over and give up, they were sadly mistaken.
Leading just 12-11, Carson scored 10 of the next 14 for a 22-14 lead. Schmidt had three kills and DeJoseph two. Anderson also served up an ace.
Reno closed to 22-19, but the Senators were able to close it out on two kills by Schmidt and one by Haupu.
That set the stage for the deciding fifth set and heartbreak for Carson.
“I thought we could take them,” DeJoseph said. “We were really prepared.”