Truckee volleyball sweeps North Tahoe
Sierra Sun sports editor
TRUCKEE (Oct. 28) ” Fighting for their playoff lives and battling bitter rivals North Tahoe, the Truckee varsity volleyball team surmounted a 1-0 deficit to win 3-games-to-1 to finish .500 (8-8) in the Northern 3A and complete a regular season, two-game sweep of the Lakers.
Truckee may have declared victory in the head-to-head season battle, but, by finishing one game better than Truckee at 9-7 in league, the Lakers won the war. As the No. 4 seed, they will move on to the NIAA Class 3A Northern League Tournament at Dayton High School on Nov. 6 and play No. 5 Yerington in the first round (10 a.m.).
Due to Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) tie-breaker rules, the Wolverines won’t be moving on.
Truckee players and fans were somewhat cheated because they thought they were celebrating more than a mere victory over their archrivals. Many were under the impression they had at least earned a one-game playoff for the No. 6 and final seed, and Truckee head coach Maggie Shane was among them.
“They don’t knock someone out of the (playoff) system with tie-breaker rules,” she said after the game. “There will probably be a playoff game at (first-place) Dayton on Friday (Nov. 5) because they’ll play the game where zones will be.”
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Shane turned out to be wrong on Monday when NIAA officials sorted out the scenario. In the advent of a three-way tie, there are six tie-breakers that teams must go through before an actual game would be played to determine the No. 6 seed. Truckee was knocked out on the fourth such tie-breaker (see detailed explanation below).
Despite the confusion and letdown that followed four days later, the Truckee team was still content with sending playoff-bound North Tahoe into postseason play with a loss.
Short of breath while celebrating the victory, Truckee senior outside hitter Jesse Lamm said, “We get so riled up for North Tahoe. All the fans come out, so we feel we have to do well. It’s different from all the other games for sure. You can tell we all really wanted it, and we’re one big happy team right now.”
Tom LeFevers, North Tahoe head coach for the last five seasons, said, “This is a huge rivalry. Truckee always plays us like it’s the Olympics or something. It’s the championship of the world every time we meet. It’s just intense.”
Truckee had just about everything to prove and nothing to lose against the visiting Lakers on Thursday night. On Oct. 14, the Wolverines had a 7-4 league record but proceeded to drop four straight league matches, putting them in a must-win situation against the Lakers if they wanted to have any chance at the postseason.
“Personalities, emotions, girls, seniors, exams, ACTs, SATs; that kind of thing,” said Shane, trying to make sense of her team’s mid-season collapse that included devastating losses to Spring Creek and Yerington. “We lost focus for a while, and it put us in a tough position.”
Late in game one, it looked to be those same struggling Wolverines that took the court against North Tahoe. Truckee jumped out to a 4-1 lead and was up 12-10 at one point, but middle hitter Melody Warnes won five straight points on her service to put the Lakers ahead 16-12 ” a lead that North Tahoe never surrendered in winning game one, 25-19.
Warnes controlled the net and had kills on three out of the Lakers’ last four points, but it was the powerful hitting and dead-on placement by junior outside hitter Rachel Ericsson that had Truckee on the ropes the entire game. Ericsson had three kills in the first game.
Game one featured many long rallies, as did the entire match, but it was as if North Tahoe had an answer for every quality serve, block or kill-attempt that Truckee made.
In addition, it seemed like Truckee was fighting their own adrenaline, routinely hitting serves and returns out of bounds.
“We missed eight serves the first game,” Shane said. “We tend to be a team that almost sits back and watches the first game; to figure out where they hit, how to block and who the hitters are.”
If Truckee was sitting back and assessing North Tahoe, it was clear the Wolverines would need to better contain Warnes and Ericsson. Ericsson had another kill early in game two that came to an 11-11 tie, but the Truckee defense began to employ quality digs off the rocket right hand of Ericsson. Ericsson was held to zero kills the rest of the game as Truckee stormed out to a 17-11 lead and won 25-21 to even the match.
“It took us a while to get up-to-speed with them,” Shane said. “There was a lot at stake tonight, and I think they were very nervous (to start the game).”
With the match tied 1-1, Truckee rode the momentum it had established in the previous game and never trailed after taking a 4-3 lead in game three. Truckee led by scores of 10-5 and 15-11 and scored the last two points on Kelly Tierney’s service to win 25-19.
On the North Tahoe bench, LeFevers could see his team’s impetus slipping away.
“Volleyball is a momentum sport,” he said. “When you have the momentum on your side, everything’s great. But it can shift in a second, and that’s what happened today. We let our energy drop a little bit. And that’s pretty much it.”
However, down 2-1, North Tahoe wasn’t about to give up in game four. Ericsson came back with a vengeance and scored three kills to propel the Lakers to 4-0 and 9-4 leads. Truckee caught North Tahoe at 11-11, and the teams see-sawed to ties at 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 points.
Senior middle hitter Kelly Ward’s kill gave Truckee an 18-17 lead, and Mary Delgadillo’s kill gave the Wolverines a two-point advantage at 20-18.
Junior outside hitter Jamie Evans had back-to-back kills to provide Truckee with its biggest lead of game four, 24-18. After Kelly LeFevers got a kill for the Lakers, Wolverines’ setter Kelly Murphy hit it soft, found a seam in the Lakers defense, and made the biggest kill of the night to seal a Truckee victory, 25-19.
“I knew they could do it once they tightened everything down and started getting comfortable playing,” Shane said. “They pulled it together.”
Lamm had 13 kills for Truckee, and Ericsson had nine kills for North Tahoe. Truckee finished the 2004 season with an 8-9 overall record and seventh place in the Northern 3A.
Truckee ended the season in a three-way tie with Yerington and Spring Creek at 8-8. Since all three teams split with each other (1-1), the first tie-breaker after head-to-head competition is total number of game wins within the tie. In the triangle of teams, Yerington had 9 game wins, Spring Creek had 8 and Truckee had 7. Therefore, Yerington is awarded the No. 5 seed.
As a result, it comes down to Truckee and Spring Creek for the final No. 6 seed. Since number of game wins in the head-to-head matchup could not determine the tie-breaker (Truckee defeated Spring Creek 3-0 on Sept. 25, and Spring Creek defeated Truckee 3-0 on Oct. 16), in the next tie-breaker each team is awarded one point for each match won in league play by their defeated opponents.
The easiest way to figure that is to count wins above the tie. Spring Creek has a win over second-place Incline while Truckee does not. That gives Spring Creek the No. 6 seed and leaves Truckee out.
Visit nevada.ihigh.com for more NIAA volleyball playoff information.
Day Date Opponent Result All League
Fri. Sept. 10 @ North Tahoe W, 3-2 1-0 1-0
Tues. Sept. 14 vs. Fernley W, 3-0 2-0 2-0
Thurs. Sept. 16 @ Incline L, 3-0 2-1 2-1
Tues. Sept. 21 vs. Sparks W, 3-0 3-1 3-1
Fri. Sept. 24 @ Lowry L, 3-2 3-2 3-2
Sat. Sept. 25 @ Spring Creek W, 3-0 4-2 4-2
Tues. Sept. 28 @ Dayton L, 3-0 4-3 4-3
Thurs. Sept. 30 vs. Yerington W, 3-2 5-3 5-3
Tues. Oct. 5 @ Fernley W, 3-0 6-3 6-3
Thurs. Oct. 7 vs. Incline L, 3-0 6-4 6-4
Tues. Oct. 12 vs. Reed L, 3-0 6-5 6-4
Thurs. Oct. 14 @ Sparks W, 3-1 7-5 7-4
Fri. Oct. 15 vs. Lowry L, 3-1 7-6 7-5
Sat. Oct. 16 vs. Spring Creek L, 3-0 7-7 7-6
Tues. Oct. 19 @ Yerington L, 3-1 7-8 7-7
Thurs. Oct. 21 vs. Dayton L, 3-1 7-9 7-8
Thurs. Oct. 28 vs. North Tahoe W, 3-1 8-9 8-8
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