Incline volleyball comes up short against Yerington in battle for first place
The Incline volleyball team had their seven-match winning streak snapped on Saturday, Sept. 23, losing a battle for first place in the Class 2A Northern League standings to Yerington.
The Lady Highlanders pushed the perennial, state championship contender Lions during the home match, nearly forcing a fifth set, but a late rally by Yerington in the fourth frame sealed a 3-1 victory.
After a close match with a program that has won three state titles in the last four years, Incline Head Coach Tim Kelly said the Highlanders understand they belong among the state’s top teams.
“They now know that they are one of the best teams in the state,” said Kelly of the Highlanders. “They know they can be the best team in the state.”
Incline (13-6, 5-1 Northern League) got off to a quick start in the match against Yerington, making use of solid play at the net to build a five-point edge early on. Yerington (18-5, 7-0 Northern League) rallied back down the stretch to even the game at 24. After Incline scored to set up set point at 25-24, senior Elyse Kirkland drilled a ball the Lions couldn’t control to give the Highlanders the opening game.
After not playing against teams in league that have the size and blocking of Incline, Yerington Head Coach Anna Aiazzi changed the Lions approach going into the second set.
“We had to adjust,” she said. “That first game they had our number blocking-wise.”
Those adjustments led to an 11-4 advantage to start the second set, but Incline fought back behind the hitting of junior Chandler Cohn, to pull within one point at 21-20. Yerington would then take the next four points to win the second set.
The Lions continued that momentum into the next set, jumping out to an early advantage, and eventually taking the game 25-16.
Incline dug in to start the fourth set, playing their best volleyball of the match as the girls built a 13-5 lead to force a Yerington timeout.
From there, the Lions surged back to take 11 of the next 16 points. The Highlanders would fight off the Yerington comeback to hold a 22-19 lead off a kill from Cohn, but the Lions wouldn’t be denied as the team scored six of the final seven points to take the set and match.
The defeat drops Incline to second in the league standings with a one-game advantage over White Pine. The Highlanders will get another crack at Yerington on Oct. 21.
“What (Coach Kelly) has done with these girls in a very short while is very impressive,” Aiazzi said. “They made us work for every dang point. They are strong hitters and they block, and that’s something we don’t really see in our league. It’s going to be a battle every time we face them, and that’s how it should be.”
The Highlanders will next travel to North Tahoe (4-6, 3-3 Northern League) on Thursday, Sept. 28.