Carson volleyball falls to Reno
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Calling all patrol cars. Be on the lookout for the Carson High volleyball team last seen practicing at Morse Burley Gymnasium on North Saliman Road on Tuesday night.
The Senators played nowhere near their capabilities in the first two games of their first-round NIAA 4A zone match against High Desert champion Reno.
Carson woke up in the final two games, but still dropped a 20-25, 18-25, 25-22 and 25-27 decision Wednesday night.
“We played really badly tonight,” Carson coach Justin Malley said. “This wasn’t the team that practiced last night. We never showed up at all. No disrespect to Reno. The team that came to play was the team that won.
“We missed a lot of serves. We’re normally a good passing team, but I would bet that we didn’t pass 50 percent tonight. If you can’t pass, you can’t win. We gave them a lot of points tonight.”
Carson missed/netted 15 serves, and the Huskies were worse with 20. Seven of those Carson misses came in the final game, and four were on their final five serves.
The first set was tied eight times, the last time at 16-all.
Reno built up a 20-17 on a mishit by Elysse Virden, a double hit by Kailey Taylor, a kill by Jaclyn Winkel off a Virden block and a kill by Shelbi Zaldain. The only score for Carson in the span came when Taylor blocked Zaldain at the net.
Carson closed to 21-19, but Cameo Lomorri served one long and then a mishit by Blaike King gave Reno a 23-19. A net serve by Dani Hoeck made it 23-20, but a net serve by Nikki Keller and a tip by Zaldain, who finished with 16 kills, closed out the set.
In the second set, the teams were tied at 5, but Reno scored eight of the next 10 for a 13-7 lead. Many of Reno’s points came as a result of unforced errors. A mishit downball, a net violation, a rotation violation and a net serve enabled the Huskies to take control.
The Huskies, led by Zaldain, Samantha O’Connell, Hoeck and Perry Bradley built a 23-13 lead only to see Carson storm back.
Taylor blocked Bradley to start a 4-0 run. Keller registered two straight blocks and then Danae Eckert served up an ace to make it 23-17. Reno scored the next two points, as Zaldain closed out the game with a spike off Keller’s block.
“We stuck to our game plan; passing, setting and going after the ball,” Reno coach Adrian Hankoff said. “We weren’t afraid to make a mistake. We just banged the ball. That’s what we’re good at.”
“The team in practice didn’t show up,” Malley said. “We had no energy and no emotion. I don’t know if they were afraid of success or if they expected Reno to give it to them.”
Reno started the third game like it was going to make short work of the Senators, jumping out to a 9-2 lead. Zaldain had two kills, while Bradley and O’Connell added one each in that span.
Carson, led by Keller, Virden and King, chipped away at the deficit and then went on a 9-2 surge to take an 18-15 lead. Keller was especially impressive with three kills and back-to-back aces in that span.
Missed serves by Shannon Earwood and King plus a bad set and a missed spike enabled Reno to tie the game at 21.
A kill by Virden and a Keller block gave Nevada a 23-21 lead. Winkel’s kill made it 23-22, but a kill by Keller and a combined block by Keller and Earwood enabled Carson to avoid a sweep and make it 2-1.
The Senators had the momentum entering the fourth set, but they could never gain more than a two-point advantage.
Reno opened up a 19-15 advantage on a tip and kill by Aubrey Mitchell, and a mishit by Carson. The Senators closed to 19-17 on a service error by Erica Stoddard and a kill by Keller.
Lomorri served long to give Reno a 20-17 lead, but Carson tied the game on kills by Virden and Keller plus an ace by Mavil Diaz. The Senators gave up the momentum and a point seconds later when Diaz served long to give the Huskies a 21-20 lead.
Carson regained the lead at 23-21 on another kill by Keller, a tip by Earwood and a combined block by Earwood and Keller. However, Eckert served long to make it 23-22. Bradley returned the favor, and the Senators were one point away from tying the match.
A kill and ace by Zaldain tied the set at 24. A tip by Taylor gave Carson a 25-24 lead, but Earwood served long to make it 25-all. A kill by Mitchell and an errant spike by Virden gave the Huskies the next two points and the match.
Malley was impressed with the play of Keller over the final two games.
“She stepped up,” said Malley of Keller, who had nine kills, seven stuff blocks and three aces. “Unfortunately we didn’t get enough people to climb on her back. Nikki, the last two games, wasn’t going to be the reason we lost. The last two games was as good as she’s played.”
Malley came back to the service errors, which ultimately cost the Senators the final game.
“Nerves is part of it,” Malley said. “We made errors at the end of the game.”
Hankoff was unhappy with her team’s service game, but happy with the victory.
“I can’t complain,” Hankoff said. “We stuck to our game plan. We missed a few more serves than I would have liked, but we can clean that up.”