There were few free points in Wednesday night’s volleyball game.
Every tick on the scoreboard was earned with punishing sprawls, intelligent tips and ridiculous saves, but in the end Douglas earned just a few more ticks. In a best-of-five match, Douglas edged South Tahoe 3-1.
South Tahoe took control of the court in the first game 25-6, but the Tigers roared back 25-15, 25-19 and finally 25-23 for the non-league win.
On paper, the games should not have been that close. Douglas is loaded with club volleyball players who all looked sharp during warm-ups. But South Tahoe wasn’t intimidated. The Vikings don’t have club numbers on their side, but the veterans have seen it all before.
“We matched them with intensity and the fundamentals that we have right now,” South Tahoe coach Dan McLaughlin said. “And we out-hustled them. Douglas has one of the toughest defenses, and defensively we matched them.”
Raquel Marchesseault, Jade Child, Kaila Griffis and Kendhyl Delacour were behind that hustle and intensity. The state-champion players dove and tumbled across the court for point after point as they willed their team to stay in the game.
South Tahoe took control of Game 1 early. Hannah Neiger fired five unanswered service points to give the Vikings a 6-1 lead. Delacour then started collecting kills from the outside, maintaining that five-point cushion. Griffis delivered the final kill to give the Vikings a 25-16 game.
But the early win rattled the Tigers’ cage. Douglas came out with vengeance for Round 2.
The Tigers looked like a different team. They quickly built a commanding lead, and the Vikings never recovered after dropping behind by five points in the first six. The Tigers lengthened their lead to 22-12 with strong defense and well-placed tips. Ariah Barth delivered the final blow for the 25-15 win to tie the match at 1-1.
Both teams were fired up for Game 3.
The Tigers held onto their Game 2 momentum, but Sam Sutterfield had enough when the score slipped to 9-4 in the visitors’ favor. She delivered two aces as she took the Vikings on a six-point ride from the service line. The score was now 10-9 Vikings, and they were back in the game.
The two teams fought with everything they had. Tying the game seven times as they both approached 25. At one point, Marchesseault threw her arm under the ball, tucked and army rolled across the court. Child was right behind her to save the point.
But in the end, the Tigers’ Barth stepped up to collect three of the last four game points. The final point was awarded to Douglas on a foul, 25-19.
South Tahoe was trailing 2-1, but the match was far from over.
The Vikings climbed to a seven-point lead in the first 15 points of Game 4, but Douglas was about to go the distance.
Halfway through the game, with South Tahoe up 12-6, there was a point of epic proportion. Douglas delivered a devastating hit, but Vikings’ libero, Child, refused to let it go. The team rallied around her.
Child and Griffis flung their bodies across the backcourt sending the ball back to Douglas with one impossible play after another as the point dragged on for one full minute.
“Jade played one of the best games I’ve ever seen,” McLaughlin said.
The moment was one of the best volleyball battles the South Tahoe gym has ever seen, but in the end, Douglas picked up the point.
And the Tigers started to come back.
With the Vikings up 17-13, the Tigers’ Nikki Hamada stepped up to the service line and delivered six unanswered points, capped by two aces. The score was now Douglas, 19-17.
Five plays later, Child came out with an injured hand, but the Vikings still had some fight left. Marchesseault slammed an ace over the net to set up a tie game. But 23-23 is where the Vikings stalled. Douglas collected the win with a tip and two-touch foul on the final point.
UP NEXT: South Tahoe will play in a Yerington volleyball tournament this week.