South Tahoe volleyball fights back, but falls in state semifinals
RENO, Nev. — The Vikings volleyball team during a timeout Friday sang along with the music playing over the sound system.
“I’ve got a feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night, that tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.”
South Tahoe huddling together belted out those final two lines of the Black-Eyed Peas hit song “I gotta Feeling.”
But down 2-0 and trailing 9-1 to Boulder City in the third set, it had been anything but a good night for the Vikings. They showed nothing of the brilliance that drove them to the second seed in the regional and state championship tournaments.
“I just told them to have fun, play, that’s what we’re here for,” said Vikings head coach Kelly Racca. “And that’s what we needed to take the weight off of them. I wanted them to have fun and give it their all.”
Following the timeout, Layne Hembree still had the words from the song going through her head and was silently lip singing right before she served.
The Vikings won the point and the good feelings were flowing. The hundreds of pounds of pressure they were carrying were lifted.
South Tahoe rallied, erased the deficit to win the third set.
The Vikings then pushed the fourth set into overtime, despite two questionable points being awarded by officials to the Eagles, but fell a couple points short.
South Tahoe’s season ended with a 3-1 (25-15, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24) loss to No. 1 seed Boulder City in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 3A State Volleyball Championships at Bishop Manogue High School in Reno.
“We started off slow with a different mindset than we expected from what we watched on the film,” said senior Hailey Naccarato. “In sets three and four, we came around and had a way better mindset but we just couldn’t come back and finish.”
“We had a really good frame of mind, had good warmup, but it took awhile for us to get going and figure out our rotation against them,” Racca said. “We both kept flipping lineups. This was a good chess game. We started to pick them apart a little but we made some crucial errors toward the end. When it’s point-for-point like that, one little shift is going to change the momentum.”
While the end was disappointing, the way they finished made it less painful.
Set one, “Whack, whack, whack, boom, thud!” was over fast.
Set two started the same and by the time the Vikings realized that they could play with the Eagles, and might even be a little better, the damage was done.
The Vikings fell behind 16-7 but rallied behind six service missiles from Hedqvist, two were aces. The Vikings got to within two points before going down 2-0.
Being down and not touching their ability, the Vikings chatted before set three.
“It was actually a lot of (Everett) Goldberg,” said Hedqvist of the school’s CTE (career technical education) exercise science teacher who does all of the athletics teams’ strength and conditioning. “He singled out the seniors and said, ‘This isn’t how you want to end your season. You have 25 points left to determine how you want to end your volleyball careers.’ That lit a spark in us and we bounced back.”
The fourth set wasn’t decided by officials, not by a longshot, but two calls made South Tahoe’s job a lot tougher.
The Eagles were awarded points when the Vikings were ruled to be lineup incorrectly to receive two serves.
The players and coaches strongly disagreed, but the officials would hear nothing of the complaints.
Hedqvist had 14 kills and Naccarato added 12 to lea the Vikings attack.
South Tahoe served for 10 aces with Naccarato recording four and Hedqvist and Kaitlyn Racca getting three apiece. Tyler Pevenage had 33 assists.
“We put everything out there we could,” Hedqvist said. “We had a lot of fun playing, it was a hard match, but we put it out there and that’s all I can ask for. I had such a fun time playing with these girls, I love them so much, they are my family. It’s gonna be hard to not see them at practice everyday, but we’ve all got bigger and better things ahead.”
South Tahoe played in the state tournament for the first time since 2012.
“I am so proud of these kids,” Racca said. “They have overcome so many things. We did a lot of training this year outside the norm and they bought in. They are so fun to watch. When they are on, they are on! It’s spectacular. I really get into it. It’s hard to see the season end when we are having so much fun.”