Fallon sweeps Elko, Spring Creek on the road | NevadaAppeal.com
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Fallon sweeps Elko, Spring Creek on the road

Anthony Mori
Elko Free Press
Fallon's Haylee Paladini going up for a kill.
ANTHONY MORI / FREE PRESS |

ELKO – Solid play by the Elko volleyball team was unfortunately sprinkled with spotty defense and unforced errors, falling in straight sets to the Lady Greenwave.

In the first set, Elko never started playing near the level of play the team is capable of until the score was too lopsided to overcome.

Fallon easily won the first frame 25-16 and then cruised for the three-set sweep.

Prior to the match and road trip to northeastern Nevada, Fallon Coach Patty Daum was guarded about the Greenwave’s conference matches, and the potential both Elko and Spring Creek posed.

The Lady Indians jumped out of the gates quickly in the second set and dominated the action for the first two-thirds of the frame.

Elko adjusted to the strong hitting of Fallon’s Haylee Paladini and Kayla Buckmaster — who routinely hammered shots home to the backline in the first set and mixed in drop shots into the heart of the court between Elko’s front and back rows.

Daum said the two Fallon players were pivotal in keeping Elko off guard on the receiving end. She also said LeAnn Stands was pivotal along with the two players.

The Lady Indians defense played deeper to protect the deep kills and the offense began to find a rhythm, effectively making digs to setters, setting up well-placed passes – which gave the hitters clean looks to drive the ball with authority.

Elko built leads of 5-2, 8-3 and 11-6 — eventually commanding an 18-12 advantage — and then disaster struck.

Paladini went on a seven-point service run, and the Lady Indians reverted back to an out-of-sorts, scrambling group.

Lack of communication led to balls dropping between multiple Elko players, and the Lady Indians made several unforced hitting errors into the net. Passing efficiency decreased and balls were either too far from the net to make solid kills or passes were too close to the net and resulted in easy blocks for the Lady Greenwave.

The bad stretch for Elko was finally broken by a serious wallop by senior Sydney Allen to tie the score 19-19.

The Lady Indians benefited from a Fallon shot that landed long and out of bounds and added another point to take a 21-19 lead before hitting a lazy shot into the net.

Elko regained the point and held a 22-20 lead, but Fallon reeled off the final five points of the set with solid plays by Buckmaster and senior captain Whitney Skabelund.

Daum said their play enabled Fallon to rally and to tie the set and then forge ahead to take the set. Daum also said Aleisa Billips helped change the momentum.

“We were down the entire set but adjusted our service, and the kids completely took control of the second set,” Daum said.

The third set was a virtual replay of the second — Elko jumping to a lead and Fallon making a comeback — with the Lady Indians building leads of 7-4 and 14-10.

Fallon strung together four-consecutive points to tie the game, but Elko responded well for a few moments and the teams traded points.

With the score tied 16-16, Paladini drove an emphatic kill to the back-left corner and gave Fallon the lead.

Elko’s defense lost its spacing and the Lady Indians became cluttered around one another with everyone running to the same spot on the floor.

Credit the Lady Greenwave for placing shots to get the Elko defenders out of their positions, which allowed Fallon some quite easy drop shots to open space.

Fallon went on a five-point run to take a 21-16 lead before the Lady Indians scored a point.

Daum said she was pleased with the way her team competed Elko, a team she said plays tough on its home court.

Elko’s hitters were set up with some difficult looks and often had to strike the ball on the run or fading to the side, rather than collecting themselves, getting square and going straight up.

The Lady Greenwave set up their block well, and the Lady Indians rarely looked to hit cross-court shots away from the blockers – often resulting in Fallon stuffs.

The Lady Indians pulled to within 23-21 with a 5-2 run, but Fallon entered game point and Buckmaster closed the show with a kill.

Elko fell 25-21 in the third set and dropped all three frames.

Fallon had a balanced offensive effort against Elko with its kills. Skabelund paced Fallon with nine kills, while Paladini accounted for eight. LeAnn Stands had five. Stands, though, had 11 blocks against Elko, and Paladini had nine and Skabelund seven. Buckmaster was on top of her game with five digs.

Fallon also rolled over Spring Creek in three sets.

Friday’s matchup with the Lady Greenwave was a tough one, with all three sets remaining close to the end. Spring Creek had its best opportunity to steal a set in the opening frame of the match, 25-17, to start the evening.

However, Spring Creek wouldn’t get past 20 points in a set the rest of the night, losing the next two sets by scores of 25-15 and 25-14, respectively.

Although the match with Spring Creek was easier than Elko, Daum said the Spartans were a scrappy team.

Stans rattled the Spartans with 12 kills, and Skabelund added nine. Paladini had four, while Buckmaster and Aleisa Billips each had three.

Both Stands and Paladini had nine kills apiece, and Skabelund had 10. Buckmaster finished the match with eight digs.