Douglas volleyball sweeps Carson
Appeal Sports Writer
There is youth and there is youth, but the Carson volleyball team – whose 14-girl squad is filled by 11 sophomores – would be fortunate if it has enough players old enough to get driver’s licenses and get together a car pool large enough to transport the whole team.
Douglas, whose 13-member squad has 10 upperclassmen, has no such issues and used its experience to take down the Lady Senators in three games – 25-21, 25-19 and 25-22 – Thursday at Morse Burley Gym.
The win kept the Lady Tigers in third place in the Sierra League, upping their record to 6-2 in league, 16-8 overall.
Carson, 4-4 in league and 7-6 overall, remained in fourth place after suffering its second loss of the year to its arch rival.
Trailing by two games, Carson was leading 20-19 in the third game before Douglas rallied for the win.
“I thought we played awesome,” said third-year Carson coach Shana Wilkins. “We’re young. We were never just able to grab on to it. We were right there. Douglas just beat us tonight. They’re great. Somebody’s got to win.”
The Tigers got off to a roaring start behind dominant sophomore Jessica Waggoner, whose powerful kills and play at the net was largely responsible for building the two-game lead.
“If we get the ball to her, she will do her job,” said first-year Douglas coach Jorge Urgina, who was born in El Salvador and played volleyball for the City College of New York and USA Volleyball’s open division. “She has a good future ahead of her if she keeps her focus on the game.”
But it was Waggoner, who finished with a team-high seven kills and six blocks, that Wilkins decided to focus on in game three – and for the large part was successful.
“We flipped our middles to see if Kailey Taylor could handle her better,” Wilkins said. “She did better than our usual stronger middle blocker.”
Taylor finished with three kills and two blocks. Morgan Nuckolls, one of Carson’s two juniors, had a team-high 12 kills, while sophomore libero Mavil Diaz and setter Lindsay Ford – Carson’s lone senior – were all over the floor. Diaz finished with 19 digs and Ford – who rearranged the scorer’s table with a diving play in game two – supplied 29 assists and nine digs.
“Morgan played well,” Wilkins said. “One of our outside hitters was out and she had to step up tonight. She just did it. She also played great defense (five digs, two blocks). She had a phenomenal game. She’s building confidence, trying to lead these kids.”
A Nuckolls ace gave Carson an early 6-5 lead in the third game, but Douglas was able to recapture the lead before long.
In spite of his team’s strong showing, it didn’t meet Urgina’s expectations.
“We were a little sloppy,” Urgina said. “It was little basic volleyball that we didn’t do at certain points of the game. We did it the first two games, but I want the girls to play at the same level all the time and not have ups and downs. When they stay (consistent), then they will be the team I want them to be.”
Senior Alex Risko had six kills and three aces, sophomore Taryn Williams added six kills and an ace, junior Bridget Maestretti had four kills, four digs and three blocks and sophomore Megan Mitchell contributed three kills and two aces in the win. Junior Mary Lombino chipped in six digs.
Douglas built a 10-4 lead in the first game, but a pair of Taylor blocks and Nuckolls kill gave the scrappy Senators a 15-13 lead before Douglas later assumed control.
“I’m impressed,” Wilkins said of her team’s pluck. “The kids have the skills to be phenomenal. To compete with a great program like Douglas…We played well, had a great attitude and worked hard. I’m impressed.”
Carson also had a solid contribution from Nikki Keller, who is also a pitcher on the CHS softball team and had ACL surgery at the end of 2005.
“She didn’t get to play club (volleyball),” Wilkins said of Keller, who had two blocks, four digs and one kill. “She plays all the way around for me. She does a great job. She’s gone from right side to outside hitter to middle this year. She’s just learning the position. She’s a dominant force on the court – not necessarily with the stats, but as a leader.”
The Senators may be young and in search of all the leadership they can get, but Wilkins has high hopes for her team.
“I feel we should be in the playoffs,” Wilkins said. “Hopefully we’ll be above the bottom (No. 4 seed). Hopefully we’ll pick off somebody up ranked two or three. For this young squad, to get in the playoffs and get past the first round, it will build confidence for next year.”
Carson will return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m., when it hosts Hug.