Electric atmosphere! Incline volleyers sweep rival North Tahoe
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline’s Roxanne Reed started her run from well behind the service line.
She tossed the ball in the air, leaped and blasted a jump serve that handcuffed North Tahoe. The Lakers couldn’t return the ball back over the net and the celebration started inside Highlander gymnasium.
Incline swept its North Shore rival 3-0 Wednesday night in front of its largest crowd of the season. It was the Highlanders sixth straight victory and they grabbed a share of the 2A Northern League lead.
“It was really exciting,” said Highlanders senior and team captain Chandler Cohn. “I think we really stepped up to the occasion and we all worked really well as a team.”
Incline and North Tahoe were well represented in the mostly full stands. The strong support for both sides made each point seem like it was life and death. Each point was cheered wildly, especially the final set that lasted longer than the first two.
“This is the most fans we’ve ever had,” said first-year head coach Shana Moore, who graduated from Incline in 2010 and played volleyball. “And it’s so awesome for our bigger hitters like Chandler Cohn and Michaela Racich, when they have a crowd behind them, they really get up there and just knock down kills.”
“There was a lot of pressure on both sides and I thought we handled it really well,” Cohn said. “I actually really like the pressure, it makes me play harder.”
Incline broke open a close first set about halfway through and finished it off going away.
The second set was similar to the first. North Tahoe put up a good fight but Incline proved to be too strong. The Lakers would score a couple of points but couldn’t generate a long string of them. The Highlanders would quickly shut down the Lakers and go on a run of their own.
North Tahoe showed its pride in the third set, taking Incline the distance. The score was tied at 25, then again at 27 before the Highlanders finished it off 29-27 after some nervous, hectic points.
With the score tied at 27, Incline players in between points were telling each other to breathe, relax and finish it off.
“Everyone was nervous because the score was so close,” Cohn said.
Freshman Brooke Gutheil, a middle blocker who changes the game at the net with her blocking ability, was one of the Highlanders trying to get her teammates to remember to take deep breaths.
“Our freshman in the middle made some unbelievable blocks and that meant so much,” Moore said.
The Highlanders (9-3, 6-1 Northern) moved into a tie with Yerington (5-0 Northern), but the Lions handed Incline its only league loss and have yet to lose a set in league play. The Highlanders have won 18 sets in league and surrendered just four, three to the Lions.
The top six teams qualify for the playoffs so Incline is well on their way to playing for league, region and possibly state titles.
Other teams near the top of league include White Pine (5-1), North Tahoe (4-3), Silver Stage (3-3) and Battle Mountain (3-5).
Incline next will host Pershing County (0-5) at 5 p.m., Friday just before the Highlanders host West Wendover on the gridiron at 7 p.m.
But win or lose, Moore wants her team to have fun and the winning will take care of itself.
“I like to preach positivity with my girls and no matter what happens, win or lose, we want good sportsmanship,” Moore said. “Volleyball in the past years here have had a bummer attitude and as long as we’re all happy out there, and we act like we’re gonna win, we’re gonna win.”