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Vikings leave Sparks far behind

Michael Traum

How good are they?

That’s the question facing the South Tahoe High volleyball team this year.

And it wasn’t answered on Tuesday, as the Vikings blew away a dismal Sparks squad, 15-6, 15-1, 15-1, at South Tahoe High School.

“Sparks is going to be one of the cellar teams, but we’re that good of a team,” said Tahoe coach Alan Lambert. “I haven’t talked like this in six years of coaching. I’ve always said what realistically we can do. Last year we were hoping for the division title and we got it. This is the same team.”

The Railroaders were on the receiving end of their namesake, as Tahoe, when Sparks managed to get the ball over the net, simply had its way. After a somewhat slow start, the Vikings began to roll on the arms of Alicia Lambert and Adrian Hankoff. Lambert had eight of her 15 service winners, while Hankoff added five of her seven kills, to give Tahoe the first game going away.

“It’s hard to play well against a team like that. When the ball did come over the net, it was slop, so we really couldn’t get a pass or run a play. It’s frustrating,” Hankoff said. “But our outside hitters did really well. And it’s just the beginning of the season. I’m anxious to see what happens when we play a good team.”

Sparks setter Morgan Marriot left the match in the second game with a bloodied nose, which according to coach Tim Meredith completely took his team out of rhythm.

He was right.

Tahoe’s offense caught fire as best it could. When Sparks didn’t let a serve drop without being touched or bump an unretrievable pass, the Vikes’ good motion and recognition set up quick-kill opportunities for setter Lambert, which Kate Devore, Chantelle Young and Courtney Wilson made fast cash on.

The Railroaders quickly became overwhelmed, even intimidated, by Tahoe’s game and their own inability to execute the simplest of plays. The Vikings maintained their intensity level and sent Sparks home with just two points over the final two games.

“We don’t have any experience,” said Meredith, who started a junior and five sophomores. “Tahoe just took over. I haven’t seen them play anybody else, so it’s hard to judge how good they are.”

Added Tahoe’s Wilson, “The more we stay focused and fired up, the harder we’re going to pound it back at them. And we always play better against a better team. This is the best team I’ve seen so far come out of here.”

While pleased with the outcome, Lambert said his team will have to play a much more crisp match when teams like Reno, Douglas or Fallon stand on the opposite side of the net.

“When we get to good teams, we can’t get away with moving slow, not covering the hitters or not getting back to our defensive positions. But it’s tough when you know the other team isn’t going to be running it back at you quickly,” he said. “But this is a great team. And their attitudes match their talent. We’ve got big guns out there and we work as if we’re one of the worst teams trying to become the best. We’ll be there.”


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