Semifinal comeback keeps Vikings alive |

Semifinal comeback keeps Vikings alive


Becky Regan / Tahoe Daily TribuneSouth Tahoe claims the semifinal match Friday in Reno and advances to finals today against Chaparral in Reno at noon.

The Vikings were one point away from elimination. Every muscle of every girl was tensed as they looked the possibility of their final volleyball point in the face. The team across the net jumped higher, hit harder and was ranked No. 1, according to the state of Nevada. It all came down to the final minutes of Game 4 for the South Tahoe High School volleyball team. This was the kind of pressure that makes stomachs clench and throats go dry. This was the kind of pressure that separates championship volleyball teams, and the Vikings rose up. South Tahoe fought back from elimination points three times to claim the Northern Division 1-A State Semifinals 3-2 against powerhouse Faith Lutheran. It took five games, 26-24, 21-25, 13-25, 28-26 and 15-12 to win. Now, for the first time in 25 years, the Vikings volleyball team will advance to state finals today against Chaparral in Reno at noon. It took every trick in their bag Friday, but the girls earned their way against impossible odds. “We’re a scrappy team and we wanted it more,” setter Raquel Marchesseault said. “Losing was not an option.”On paper, no way South Tahoe should have won that game. On court, the three seniors who built this program from the ground up said otherwise. Drew Norberg, Morgan Kaufer and Bailey David utterly refused to believe they would lose. “I was blocking it out,” Norberg said. “We don’t look like we’re that good because we don’t have that much height, but we definitely proved that you don’t need height to win volleyball.”South Tahoe’s average net lineup came up to Faith Lutheran’s chins. Norberg was the exception. The 6-foot-2 middle hitter delivered 21 kills and put up three blocks. “Middles don’t get 21 kills in a game. You truly saw one of the most remarkable performances out of the middle,” head coach Dan McLaughlin said. Behind Norberg’s attack, the Vikings actually jumped out to an early lead. The Game 1 win was surprising, since South Tahoe was trailing the majority of the time. Blocks from Norberg and Emily Gardner kept the comeback within reach. It was Kaufer, however, who put up the key block to make it 25-24, match point. Norberg ended the battle with a fiery jump serve that wasn’t returnable. The Vikings run stalled there, however, as Faith Lutheran picked up the next two games. South Tahoe’s kills just couldn’t seem to make it past the towering Lutheran blocks. In the best of five scenario, Faith Lutheran now just needed one more game to cement the finals. South Tahoe had been in this position before though.“I told them in one timeout, you have proven once again you are never out of any game. No matter what the score is,” McLaughlin said.South Tahoe had ground out a comeback win last week against Fernley to earn the state trip. In Game 4, the girls dug in to do it again. Facing elimination, the girls played as a unit. Norberg served up back-to-back aces. Bailey David, Kaila Griffis and Jade Child stood their ground against blistering kills. Marchesseault turned tough digs into possible points, and Kaufer and Norberg took turns cashing them in. “You’ve got to give a lot of kudos to Raquel, who set two separate offense. She sets one offense when Drew was front row and she sets a different offense when Drew is back row,” McLaughlin said.Griffis kept the Vikings in the game when she dove to recover a block that would have meant elimination had it hit the floor. The 5-foot-4 outside hitter than slammed a kill seconds later to force the game past 25. Kaufer tied it up with a devastating kill, and followed up with an ace as she served the Vikings to victory. “We are a very determined team. That’s how we won,” McLaughlin said. “It’s a will to win.”Game 4 was the big win, and Game 5 was the aftermath. Kaufer walked away with 16 kills and 10 digs. David led the defense with 16 digs and added two aces. Griffis recorded six digs and two kills. Marchesseault served five aces, and Hannah Neiger delivered four aces. “They played their best match today,” McLaughlin said. “All the little things that we preached all year long that we struggled doing that was the difference.”

Go back to article