Sbragia leads Dust Devils to key Northern 3A win
DAYTON – There’s no question who the Dayton High School volleyball team looks to in a clutch situation. For that matter, the Dust Devils want to get the ball to Amanda Sbragia any time they can.
“That’s been the game play since day one,” Dayton coach Sondra McMullen said with a smile. “She has a good support system, too, and I don’t think there’s any jealousy because the girls know she’s our power.”
Sbragia saw the ball often on Tuesday night and the 5-foot-11 senior responded with a 21-kill performance that helped the Dust Devils defeat Incline 3-1 in a showdown between Northern 3A leaders before a vocal home crowd.
Dayton won 25-7, 21-25, 25-14, 25-20 to move into a first-place tie with Incline in the league race. Both teams are 9-2 in Northern 3A play, but the Dust Devils now have an edge in the tie-breaker criteria, providing they can win their remaining league matches. First-place in the regular season carries the added incentive of hosting the league tournament on Nov. 6.
Since Dayton (21-3 overall) trailed by one game in the standings and had lost at Incline on Sept. 21, the rematch on Tuesday put the Dust Devils in a must-win situation.
“We all stepped up big-time tonight,” Sbragia said. “We needed a big game because we knew how big it was. And it was nice to come home and play in front of our home crowd. They’re so loud; they get us going.”
In game one, Sbragia put down a block to give the Dust Devils an 8-3 lead and Nicole Greer’s kill made it 11-4. Then Sbragia went back and served up 11-point run – four of those points coming on aces – to extend the lead to 21-4 – Michelle Bowman put up another point on a block, Bailey Garcia scored another on a tip and then back-to-back errors by Incline closed out the game.
Incline stormed back in game two and took a 15-9 lead – thanks to a seven-point run, including four aces, served up by Lauren Hall – and the Highlanders went up 19-11 at one point. Dayton rallied to within 21-19, only to see Incline hold on and close out the game on a kill by Jami Bell.
“What you saw tonight wasn’t typical Dayton serving or serve receive,” McMullen said. “And in that second game, it looked like we had forgotten how to pass.”
The Dust Devils were far from discouraged at that point.
“I wasn’t concerned,” Sbragia said. “We still had momentum from the first game. Sometimes you can feel those things, and I felt it then.”
Dayton only led 13-10 after Sbragia hit a shot that sailed long. Undaunted, she came back moments later, took a high set from Bowman on the left side and drilled a cross-court shot that the Incline defense never had a chance to react to. Next, Bowman set Sbragia over the middle with similar results. Lefty Macy Hamlin served an ace and Sbragia put down a block to make it 17-10. Then Sbragia showed finesse when she went up in the middle, saw an opening on the right side and pushed the ball to an open spot in the corner. Sbragia put down a block, giving Dayton a 20-10 lead and control of the match.
“When we play like we’re capable, we’re a strong team,” McMullen said. “And Amanda’s the best player in the 3A.”
In addition to her 21 kills, Sbragia added six blocks, five digs, five aces and one assist to a solid all-around performance. Bowman finished with 24 assists, six digs and two kills. Greer contributed seven kills and seven digs. Melony Cox and Hamlin had nine digs each for the Dust Devils.
Kristin Elias had 11 kills and six digs, while Bell chipped in with six kills and three blocks for Incline (9-4 overall).
The Dust Devils, who finish their regular season by playing five of seven matches at home, host Hug in a nonleague match today and host Fernley in a league match on Thursday. They play defending 2A state champion Whittell Friday in Zephyr Cove.
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.