South Tahoe volleyball rides serving, floor game past Incline in four sets
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The South Tahoe volleyball team had a size disadvantage against cross-lake rival Incline on Tuesday, Sept. 14, but that didn’t stop the Vikings from prevailing. The Vikings rallied to beat the Highlanders in four sets 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18 at the Blue Gym, delivering a gritty performance for their third straight win.
“We took advantage of our strengths,” Vikings head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “We knew we had to beat them on the floor game — we had to beat them with passing, defense and serves.”
South Tahoe (3-1) dropped the opening set, but bounced back tie the match in the second frame. Errors in the first set cost the Vikings against Incline (1-4), a Div. III state participant last season.
“We played stressed and we played really uptight, and that’s what killed us,” Vikings libero Kaitlynn Watson said. “South Tahoe loses to South Tahoe, and that’s it.”
In the third set, South Tahoe used a late run to prevail and take control of the match. Ahead 19-18, the Vikings finished the frame on a 6-2 run capped by a block from middle hitter Louisa Stelzriede.
“As soon as we started relaxing, we just picked it back up and everything was good,” Watson said. “We had fun with it.”
South Tahoe closed out Incline in the fourth set on the strength of its serving. The Vikings produced nine aces in the stanza on the way to clinching the match, including two apiece from Watson and middle hitter McKenna Brewer as part of an 8-2 run that made it 18-9.
“That’s the strongest aspect of our game right now,” Watson said. “It gives us confidence, momentum and we’re all really excited for each other.”
The Vikings maintained at least a six-point advantage following the run as they completed the comeback. Outside hitter Paige Naccarato clinched the victory with her seventh kill of the match.
“It was a very aggressive win,” McLaughlin said. “It’s the third time in a row that we’ve beat a team with a lot of guts, heart, teamwork and team attitude.”
Incline created matchup problems at the net with a handful of big hitters, including 6-foot middle hitter Kira Porter. Porter, headed to Howard next fall, was one six Highlanders players 5-feet-9-inches or taller — but a size discrepancy didn’t keep South Tahoe from extending its win streak.
“You can win games by beating teams with little things,” McLaughlin said. “You don’t have to look graceful or have big hitters to win.”
Outside hitter Novel Moses had seven kills along with Naccarato, and the sophomore added six aces. Brewer finished with five kills and three aces, Stelzriede had four kills and a block, opposite hitter Lexi Steinbergs added a kill and Watson totaled with six aces — as a team, South Tahoe had 21 aces and eight misses from the service line.
“The game was won with the service points,” McLaughlin said. “We beat them at the service line because we couldn’t stop them at the net.”
South Tahoe returns to action Friday, Sept. 18, when it resumes league play at home against Lowry at 6 p.m. The Vikings travel to play Fallon on Saturday, Sept. 19 — first serve is scheduled for 2 p.m.