Lady Highlanders battle bigger schools at Yerington Invitational | SierraSun.com

Lady Highlanders battle bigger schools at Yerington Invitational

The Incline Village volleyball team kicked off their first tournament of the season, playing at the Yerington Invitational on Friday, Sept. 1, and Saturday, Sept. 2.

The Highlanders fought to a 2-3 finish over the two days of competition, with the Class 2A team taking on mostly Class 3A competition.

The Highlanders opened the tournament against Class 3A Dayton, and dropped the match 2-1. The team then rebounded with a win in straight sets, 2-0, over Owyhee, before dropping the final match of the day, 2-0, to Class 3A Moapa Valley.

"Most coaches would say 1-2 isn't great," said first-year head coach Tim Kelly. "But wow! We played well. If we play this well all season, then we have a legitimate chance at a deep run in November. I couldn't be more excited about this group of young ladies."

“If we play this well all season, then we have a legitimate chance at a deep run in November. I couldn’t be more excited about this group of young ladies.”Tim Kellyhead coach

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The Lady Highlanders were forced to play without senior outside hitter Madison Cronk (illness), but showed grit against last year's 3A state runner-up Moapa Valley.

After getting topped 25-7 in the first set, Incline managed to take a 21-20 lead in the second off an assist from senior Madeleine Saxe to set up a kill by senior Elyse Kirkland. Unfortunately, the Highlanders would drop the next five points as Moapa Valley took the match.

The Highlanders took on Bishop Union to the following day, and put together a solid team effort to take the match 2-0.

Senior Leslie Medina and junior Alyssa Fellows gave Saxe good placement on balls to set, which allowed Kirkland, junior Chandler Cohn, sophomore Olivia Schneider, senior Alexis Krolick, and sophomore Michaela Racich to swing away for kills.

"Madeleine was awesome against Bishop," Kelly said. "She made fabulous decisions and really allowed our hitters to do what they do, and that's score points. Bishop had no idea where the ball was going because Madeleine had great trust in all our attackers. It was really fun to watch. We had to stay in the 5 – 1 again with Madison (Cronk) home sick, and she took it in stride and just set the ball beautifully."

Incline would go on to win both sets 25-20, sending the team to a semifinal matchup against Class 3A Elko.

The teams would enter into a back-and-forth match, with Medina and Cohn making plays for Incline as the teams fought to a 20-20 tie. Elko would take the advantage from that point, winning the game 25-21.

"I think that was some of our best volleyball so far," Kelly said. "We battled and fought, and the girls really enjoyed playing volleyball with each other. We passed it well, and Madeleine was making great decisions and we were attacking them every play. There were some possessions that seemed to last forever because both teams just didn't want the ball to drop. That was awesome. We just need to find a way to finish, and we are right there."

Incline would fall into a 16-6 hole in the next set, but rallied back to trail 20-18, highlighted by Schneider's block of Elko's outside hitter.

But it wouldn't be enough for the Highlanders, as Elko held on to take the set 25-20.

The loss dropped Incline to 2-3 for the tournament, and 3-3 on the season.

Incline will next travel to South Tahoe on Thursday, Aug. 31 to play their fourth Class 3A opponent of the season.

"The whole idea is to be ready for the 14 games that truly matter," Kelly said. "We want to walk into Pershing County on Sept. 8 with a total understanding of how we play and how good we really are. We, Sarah (Williams) and I, love that we are in battles right now with teams that are more athletic than the majority of our league. Those 14 games decide if we get to regionals in Fernley and these first 7 games are preparing us for that."