If close-game victories are the sweetest, then the South Tahoe Vikings left with a good taste in their mouths Thursday after scraping out a hard-fought win against Fernley.
The volleyball team edged out Fernley in its first league match Thursday after a four-game tug-of-war for the lead. The girls took the first two games 25-16, 26-24, dropped the third game 25-21 before sealing the victory in a 25-20 fourth game.
"They play with a great deal of enthusiasm and a great deal of heart. Is that the word for it?" coach Dan McLaughlin said. "What I'm saying is they could have easily fallen apart, particularly in game four when the other girls came back, but they came through. They believed they could win and so they could."
McLaughlin is speaking of the nail-biting finish to the fourth game when the Viking's substantial lead started to slip away. The girls let Fernley back in, but they finished strong to cement a 3-1 victory.
The win is promising not just because it's the girls' first league game, but because the Vikings lost to the same team last week in a non-league tournament.
"It indicates we're improving, but we still have a good deal of a way to go," McLaughlin said.
The coach expects a great deal from his team that made playoffs the past two consecutive years. Although the Vikings won, the girls missed seven serves in the second game, and needless to say their coach did not look pleased on the bench.
McLaughlin is big on fundamentals, but he also knows fundamentals might slip a bit as the girls learn how to run their new offense.
"It's a little bit of a new system but once we get it down it's going to take us to the next level," McLaughlin said.
Typically a setter moves to best set up the outside hitter, but the Viking's setter will be following the middle hitters in their new offense. Why the middle hitter? Because Drew Norberg is a middle hitter and this will free her up to hit inside, outside or even from the back row at times.
Norberg is definitely a player the Vikings want to have as many kill chances as possible. The 6-foot-2 senior slapped down 19 kills in Thursday's match and put up four blocks and served two aces. The senior is a powerhouse for the Vikings.
So is left side Morgan Kaufer, who came up with seven kills, three aces and eight digs against Fernley.
Setter duties will be split between Raquel Marchesseault and Hannah Neiger. Marchesseault was in Thursday and set up 35 assists and still put up four blocks and three digs.
At libero, the Vikings have senior Bailey David, who is a big part of the Vikings backcourt defense where volleyball game are usually lost or won. She came up with seven digs on Thursday.
"Bailey has that intangible quality, leadership," McLaughlin said.
"The team is expected to compete out there, but it's not an easy road,"
Indeed it's not. It's safe to say volleyball is alive and well in Northern Nevada. The Vikings' opponent card is stacked with competitive volleyball programs like Dayton High School, which is next in line for the Vikings.