Dayton, a self-described “short team,” ended up standing the tallest at the end of the Northern Region 3A volleyball tournament at Hug High School in Reno.
The Dust Devils won both their matches Saturday to claim the 3A championship, opening the day with a three-set win over Elko before edging Spring Creek for the regional title in five sets, 25-21, 25-27, 25-4, 20-25 and 15-12.
Dayton improved to 26-7 overall and moves on to the 3A state tournament in Las Vegas. The Dust Devils will open against 3A South runner-up Moapa Valley (24-10) on Friday at Clark High.
“We call it keeping our Dayton game; our Dayton play; our Dayton mindset,” Dust Devils coach Alyse Fletcher said of surviving what was essentially a six-hour day Saturday. “It’s the hype; it’s the energy that we bring to all of our games.”
Saturday’s regional-title match was Dayton’s third straight win this season over Spring Creek. The Dust Devils won on the road in September (3-2) and at home in October (3-0).
Given their lack of height up front — Dayton does not list a player taller than 5-foot-10 on its roster — the Dust Devils weren’t expecting to win every net battle in the 3A title game. Instead, they relied on timely digs and crisp passing, and also swung the momentum more than once with their serving game. Players such as outside hitter Riley Glynn and middle Ayisha Agee had long service sequences that had the Spartans looking for answers.
“We work very, very hard, but we are a very short team,” Fletcher said. “I’ve done a lot of research on what can make us more successful, because we don’t get a lot of blocks. And the teams that we’re going up against are very tall teams that have great swings.
“So the only way to combat teams like that is through our serving. We have to be a good serving team in order to generate points, somehow, some way.”
Saturday’s title match had a little bit of everything across its 199 points. The second game was close throughout, with Dayton fighting back from a 13-9 deficit to eventually take an 18-17 lead. The game was then tied at 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25 before the Spartans were able to put two straight points together.
The third game was basically the opposite. After a 2-2 start, the Dust Devils stormed to a 13-3 lead, the largest margin of the match to that point. The carnage continued, with Dayton going on to score the final 12 points in its 25-4 blowout win.
For the fifth and deciding game, Dayton was able to maintain a lead between two and four points most of the way. An 11-6 advantage was its largest of the game, with Spring Creek never getting closer than two.
Dayton 3, Elko 0
Earlier Saturday, Dayton rarely trailed in an easier-than-expected sweep of Elko.
The Dust Devils seemed to get better as the match wore on, taking control of both the second and third games with decisive runs.
The Indians’ season ended at 14-9. Elko had beaten Dayton in two of the teams’ three meetings this season.
3A state volleyball
At Clark and Rancho, Las Vegas
Friday: Spring Creek vs. Boulder City, 4:30 p.m.; Dayton vs. Moapa Valley, 6:15 p.m.
Saturday: Championship, noon
This story will be updated
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