Ready for a run at state | SierraSun.com

Ready for a run at state

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Photography Michael MichaelsenTruckee High junior libero Kaylee Waters keeps the ball alive as senior setter Julie McNamara looks on during the season-opening Lowry Tournament this past weekend.

The Truckee High volleyball team already beat the team to beat in the Northern 3A.

And the Wolverines did it with relative ease.

“I knew they’d do well, but they exceeded my expectations,” Nicole Annaloro,

Truckee’s head coach, said of her team’s performance in the season-opening Lowry Tournament this past weekend.

What a performance it was, as the Wolverines defeated defending Northern 3A champion Yerington, 25-15, 25-20, en route to a 10-0 sweep of the tournament.

Aside from Yerington, which finished 35-2 overall last season, Lowry remains a formidable threat in the competitive Northern 3A division, Annaloro and her players agreed. The Lions and Buckaroos finished league play with identical 15-1 records, while Truckee posted an overall mark of 18-10 and 11-5 in league.

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Then there’s Spring Creek, another opponent not to be taken lightly, especially after the Spartans sent the Wolverines packing from the 2006 postseason tournament ” a loss that Annaloro calls an upset after the Wolverines took two from the Spartans in league and finished ahead of them in the standings.

“Spring Creek eliminated us in the playoffs, so I really want to beat them,” Annaloro said.

The Wolverines’ first shot at revenge comes on Sept. 14, when they host Spring Creek a day before facing off with Lowry in Truckee’s new gym.

Truckee likes its chances.

“I think (the team) is a lot better than last year ” better chemistry,” said Megan Murphy, a senior setter and the MVP of last weekend’s tournament.

“We have a big front row again. We’re focusing more on defense this year. I’m looking forward to it.”

Senior middle blocker Alexa Terrell, Truckee’s tallest player at 6-foot-1, is among the returners up front. She agreed with her coach that the Wolverines’ defense stands out as a team strength.

“We have a big block in the front and good diggers in the back,” said Terrell, who received all-league honorable mention as a junior. “We have a relentless defense. We don’t give up until it’s dead.”

Such persistence, as well as the skill to keep the ball alive, leads to an effective offense, the senior said.

“Defense is the No. 1 most important thing in volleyball, because if you can’t get the ball up you can’t have an offense,” Terrell said.

Another area of improvement is mental toughness, a weakness that led to the Wolverines’ early departure from the postseason last year, Annaloro said. The fact that Truckee lost only two players to graduation also bodes well for the Wolverines.

“I think that we’re a lot more mentally tough and we’re deeper on the bench this year,” said Melanie Lashbrook, a senior all-league middle blocker. “And we didn’t lose a lot of players, so that definitely will help us.”

Lashbrook, a force on the front line at 5-foot-10, said the Wolverines’ goal is to bring home a state championship from the Southern Nevada postseason tournament in November.

“I think we just want to go to Vegas,” Lashbrook said.

Annaloro recognizes her team’s desire to reach its goal. And with this year’s talented and experienced group, she knows it is within reach.

“Our goal is to go to state, and the girls are really focused,” the coach said. “They know what they want but know they have a long way to go in a competitive league.”

Murphy went ahead and made the prediction.

“We’re going to state,” she said.