TRUCKEE, Calif. - South Tahoe is accustomed to overpowering its Mount Rose League volleyball opponents. But the Wolverines are a different kind of animal.
The three-time defending state champs took advantage of the Vikings' self-inflicted mistakes while employing their own powerful offensive attack to earn a win in straight sets, 25-17, 25-11, 25-21, to end the regular season Friday night.
"I think tonight we really came together as a team," said Truckee senior Chelsea Mohun, who finished with 14 digs. "South Tahoe is awesome. They really picked it up. They have a good defense and good hitters. But we played well as a team tonight. You could see it on offense and defense."
South Tahoe head coach Dan McLaughlin was disappointed with his team's miscues, as well as the lopsided margin of victory. The teams played a closer match at South Tahoe on Oct. 16, with Truckee winning in four, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-13.
"The match was closer than the score showed. I know Truckee is going to think they are all that, but we just didn't serve well," McLaughlin said. "If we serve well, we're still playing right now."
But they didn't. The Vikings missed 11 serves on the night while the Wolverines shone in that department. The visitors also committed a number of unforced errors outside of their serving game. And Truckee took full advantage.
"The whole game came down to us not being able to attack them because we couldn't pass the ball in to our setter spots," McLaughlin said. "We missed too many serves, which meant we were serving safe, which then allowed them to attack us."
Attack they did, led by the powerful right arm of junior outside hitter Mackenzie Redner, who tallied 20 of the Wolverines' 37 kills in the match.
South Tahoe's big hitters, meanwhile, Drew Norberg and Morgan Kauffer, never hit their full stride. McLaughlin credited Truckee's defense.
"They played some fantastic defense. That's the best defensive team I've seen from Truckee in a long time," he said.
Each of the three games was close at the start before Truckee pulled away. The first set featured five ties and two lead changes in the early going. The Wolverines took over the lead for good at 6-5, however, then extended it to 10-5 with a 6-0 run behind the serving of Lauren Peak.
The Vikings hit several serves into the net or long as Truckee closed out the set with four straight points behind Redner's serve. Peak tapped a ball over the South Tahoe block and into a pocket of open space for the final point.
"South Tahoe always brings a good match. We watched video last week and the girls did a good job finding some of their tendencies," said Truckee head coach Erika Murphy, keeping those tendencies to herself.
Game 2 went back and forth early, with four ties and a couple of lead changes before the Wolverines took over at 5-4 and never looked back, led by serving runs from Redner, Kestlie Stefanelli and Becca Berelson - and aided by more unforced South Tahoe errors.
A kill attempt by Norberg, one of the most powerful hitters in the state along with Redner, went long on the final point to give Truckee the 25-11 win.
The third set remained tight throughout. The teams were knotted in six ties while swapping leads on five occasions, the last of which when Truckee took over at 18-17.
The small but vocal Truckee student section, which was engaged in a rooting battle against South Tahoe's JV team across the court, got the last word as it began a chant of "It's all over" once the Wolverines took a 23-18 lead. But the Vikings scrapped back, bringing the score to 23-20, then 24-21, before Redner smashed a kill to the floor for game point.
"Our passing was much better tonight, and our serving was consistent," said Murphy, who was pleased with her team's performance in its final match before playoffs. "The girls are super excited and amped up for zones and state. They're gearing it up."
Peak was named Player of the Match for the Wolverines, finishing with seven kills and 14 digs, while Berelson had nine service points and two aces, Stefanelli had 12 digs, and Gabby Moretti had 32 assists and a block.
For the Vikings, Norberg led the way with 10 kills, Morgan Kaufer had seven kills, and Raquel Marchesseault had 23 assists and two aces. Norberg and Emily Gardner each had one block.