Strong senior class key to state berth
Flying low and under the volleyball radar, the Lady Wave wouldn’t want it any differently.
Trying to build on last year’s regional semifinal appearance, Fallon boats a strong six-member senior class with the goal of making it to state for the first time in more than a decade.
“We don’t have height but we have heart,” senior outside hitter Whitney Skabelund. “We’re 100 percent underdogs in the league. We made big strides and we’re making bigger strides.”
Fallon returns six seniors, including Skabelund (5 feet, 8 inches, OH, RS, S), Kayla Buckmaster (5-9, RS, MS, OH), Haylee Paladini, Leann Stands (5-10, MS, RS, OH), Zoey Swisher (5-5, S, DS) and Aleisa Billlips (5-8, MH, OH, RS). Also returning is junior Faith Cornmesser (5-10, RS, OH, MH) and new to the club are junior Macie Anderson (5-10, OH, RS, MH), and sophomores Journey Martin (5-6, L, DS) and Lorynn Fagg (5-5, L, DS).
“There is really no one player that stands out,” Fallon coach Patty Daum said. “The one thing that is different this year, however, is how competitive we are with each other on positions. The starting lineup could change each game, depending on who is playing and competing in practice.”
Against Wooster in Wednesday’s non-conference match, a three-game sweep, everyone saw action in the three-game sweep. Fallon dominated the net after a slow start in the first two games and Wooster couldn’t solve the Lady Wave’s serving antics.
“We’re very smart as a team,” Buckmaster said. “We know when to tip and how and where to serve. We’ve been working on our deep-corner serves.”
Fallon had its best season since joining the 3A when it lost to Truckee in last year’s regional semifinal game. But this year’s different for the Lady Wave. Fallon will count on its game awareness and experience from last year to help push the team over the hurdle.
And it doesn’t hurt that the regional tournament is in Fallon.
“I’m looking forward to this season going so well,” Buckmaster said. “We communicate in the back row. We get most of our hits in. We’re accurate and smart with our serves. Overall, we have good team chemistry.”
For Fallon to go further than last year and qualify for one of two spots to the state tournament, it will need to figure out Truckee. The Wolverines are comprised mostly of club players and have been the top team since Fallon came into the league five years ago.
“Truckee is always tough,” said Daum, who’s assisted by freshmen coach Angela de Braga and junior varsity coaches Mikayla Torres and Taylor Zunich. “I just don’t feel comfortable counting anyone out in this league. Wins will belong to whomever shows up.”
In addition to Truckee, Lowry and Dayton gave Daum’s team problems last year.
For Fallon, though, concentrating on playing their game and taking each contest one at a time could vault the team into the state tournament. The top six teams in the Northern 3A qualify for the regional tournament and two advance to state, which will be played in the north in November.
“This team is close and plays very, very well together,” Daum said. “They love each other one minute and are getting after each other the next for not playing to their abilities. In volleyball, it’s about the defense. So, we are continually working on that.”