Well-rounded Grizzlies win state title
RENO – There’s nothing flashy about the Galena High School volleyball team. There’s no superstars or any super statistics. The Grizzlies simply have something better – a state championship.
Galena took care of that matter on its home court, and in convincing style, by defeating Douglas 3-1 to capture the first state volleyball title in school history before an estimated crowd of 1,300 at the NIAA-Las Vegas Review-Journal State Volleyball Championships on Saturday night. The Grizzlies won 25-10, 25-18, 22-25, 25-12.
The victory capped off a season in which the Teresa Burrows-coached Grizzlies went 42-5, with all five losses coming against California opponents in September during their own High Sierra Invitational and in Las Vegas at the Durango Fall Classic. Among the list of teams Galena beat in Las Vegas was Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), then ranked No. 1 in the nation.
It’s been quite a season. And it’s been a total team effort.
“What we have is a lot of speed, we’ve been playing together a long time so there’s a lot of chemistry, and we’re so well rounded,” said senior setter Kate Wallace, who handed out 51 assists to go with eight blocks in the final. “We don’t depend on any one player. Everyone on our team can play. It’s nice for me because any pass I get, I don’t have to worry about the ball getting over the net.”
Six players had kills for the Grizzlies in this match. Three were in double figures: Jenny Burrows had 15, Lydia Mailander had 14 and Chelsea Appelbaum 11. Julie Mailander also had nine kills, while Wallace and Nancy Burrows contributed five each. Burrows, who has signed a letter-of-intent to play with Seattle University, hit for a .700 percentage with 15 kills in 20 attacks, and just one error.
As a team, Galena hit .306 in the match. The Grizzlies hit .385 in Game 1 and .375 in Game 3 as they bolted to leads of 13-1 and 13-0.
“They are a great team. I said that all season,” Douglas coach Velvet Steel said. “They are definitely the top team.”
Douglas (19-7) came to life in the second game and was tied 14-14 before Galena scored four answered points to take control.
The Tigers didn’t let Game 3 get away, and showed some balance of their own. Katy Marsh set Dawson Joyce-Mendive for a kill that gave Douglas a 13-10 lead. Kayla Dunn, who signed a softball letter-of-intent with Georgia Tech earlier in the week, had a kill to make it 14-11. Cayla Knapp put down a block to make it 15-12. Monica Knight put over a dink to make it 19-17. Joyce-Mendive’s kill broke a 19-all tie and put the Tigers ahead to stay in the game. Knight pushed the ball over the net to make it 24-22 and then Erin Fitzgerald put down a block to close the game out.
“It was just a matter of them believing in themselves,” Steel said. “The first set wasn’t so much a surprise because most of the time we do lose the first set. But these kids are competitors, and we’re only losing one senior (Dunn), so we’re going to come back next year, and we’re going to come back hard.”
On this night, the Grizzlies were the ones who finished hard. Identical twin sisters Julia and Lydia Mailander, both third-year varsity veterans, were part of that strong finish.
“We knew Douglas was good. We knew they wouldn’t give up,” said Julia, a 6-foot junior.
“After that (third game), we wanted to come back and finish,” said Lydia, who stands 5-11 …
“And finish it hard,” Julia chimed in, finishing the sentence.
Both Mailanders had 14 digs in the match. Whitney Garol had a team-high 15 digs. Appelbaum had 14 digs and also had a run of 12 straight service points as the Grizzlies surged to their 13-0 lead in the final game. Jenny Burrows finished with 10 blocks and eight digs.
“We worked really hard all for this all season,” Julia Mailander said. “I can’t say we expected to win the state championship at the start of the season, but we expected to be a good team.”
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.