South Tahoe volleyball knocks off Dayton in five-set thriller
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe volleyball team believes it can play with any team in Div. I-A Northern League, and it showed that on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The Vikings knocked off league-leading Dayton in five sets 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 14-25, 15-12 at the Blue Gym, handing the Dust Devils their first loss in league play.
“It’s our biggest win yet,” Vikings setter Zoe Mosedale said. “We’ve had some issues, and we just came together and we killed it.”
In the decisive fifth set, South Tahoe (4-3, 3-2 I-A Northern) capitalized on a fortunate play and rode the resulting momentum to victory. With the score tied at 11 and the Vikings scrambling defensively, Mosedale frantically bumped a ball from the back row across the net; it hit the floor on Dayton’s side to give the hosts a crucial point.
“When you get scrambled, you just have to calm yourself,” Mosedale said. “We realized that we just had to calm down, get it over and reset. We got it back and got a kill.
“I didn’t imagine it would be a kill, but I thought we would at least do something with it.”
Mosedale’s kill was the first of three straight points to set up match point for South Tahoe — middle hitter McKenna Brewer delivered a block and then a kill on a Dust Devils overpass in consecutive points to make it 14-11. In their second crack at match point, the Vikings delivered the victory when Dayton (14-2, 4-1) committed a hitting error.
“We still have a lot of growing to do; and if we continue to make this kind of growth, we can be a powerhouse,” Vikings coach Dan McLaughlin said.
In a seesaw match, South Tahoe took the first and third frames with Dayton evening the score each time. The Vikings erased a 23-21 deficit in the first set, and secured the opening frame with back-to-back-to-back aces from outside hitter Novel Moses.
After the Dust Devils took a closely contested second set, the Vikings responded to again take the lead. South Tahoe opened up an 18-12 advantage in the third set on an ace from outside hitter Paige Naccarato before Dayton reeled off seven straight points. Ahead 22-21 later in the frame, STHS took advantage of three straight errors from the visitors to capture the set.
“We had to force the action a lot in this game and stay aggressive,” McLaughlin said. “When we got tentative and in our own heads, we allowed them to come back.”
In the fourth set, Dayton won by a comfortable margin after a back-and-forth start. The Dust Devils erased a 10-9 deficit with an 11-2 run to force the do-or-die set by a double-digit margin.
“It was about us coming together and realizing it’s the next game,” Mosedale said about the fifth set. “We don’t care about our last game — it is us and it is now.”
For South Tahoe, the win snapped a two-match losing streak. It also sent a message to the rest of the league.
“This says we’re a big competition in league and that our opponents should be scared,” Mosedale said. “We are going to go to playoffs — we’re going to do it this year.”
Moses led South Tahoe with nine kills and seven aces in the win. Naccarato finished with eight kills and three aces, opposite hitter Nora Anderson added six kills and middle hitter Korinne Bricker had four kills.
Defensively, Kaitlynn Watson had a team-high 34 digs. Defensive specialist Ashley Bricker added 11 digs and three aces, Mosedale tallied seven digs and Brewer had four blocks.
“This is not a star-driven team, it’s a team-driven team,” McLaughlin said. “Every single game, a different player can step up at the right time when we need it.”
South Tahoe returns to action at home Saturday, Sept. 19, against Sparks (2-7, 0-4). First serve at the Blue Gym is scheduled for noon.