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Volleyball tournament location topic of controversey

Steve Yingling

Some things never change: long lines at the DMV, children bickering in the car and Galena High hosting the Northern Nevada 4A zone volleyball tournament. By allowing the Grizzlies to host zone every year, the rest of Northern Nevada League concedes a state tournament berth. Gymnasium crowds can definitely make an impact on the outcome, whether it be basketball or volleyball. The spectators are up close and can make their presence felt vocally to rattle the opposition.

“On Thursday and Friday (Galena) packs the gym with the whole football team, and they heckle the players. It’s pretty intimidating,” said South Tahoe coach Alan Lambert, whose club takes a 15-3 record into a first-round zone matchup with Elko on Thursday.

One of the other 12 Northern Nevada 4A schools should be able to wrest the tournament from Galena once in a while. Many of the schools – like South Tahoe – have the necessary two gyms to hold a tournament and school officials to work the tournament. But Galena continues to thrive with an unfair advantage.

Last year, Galena’s home-court edge contributed to the Vikings’ early zone exit. After losing a tough three-game match to Douglas in the opening round, South Tahoe was required to play later that evening against the inhospitable hosts. The result was predictable as South Tahoe served as a welcome mat.

“We lined up against Galena and their hometown crowd and didn’t play well at all and ended up getting knocked of the tournament,” Lambert said.

Luckily, the Vikings won’t meet Galena in the first two rounds in this week’s zone tournament, but could possibly meet the Grizzlies in a third-round elimination match.

“This year we beat them easily – three straight – but if we somehow go down there and lose again, it’s like, wait a minute, we should beat them,” Lambert said. “We should have no problem beating them. There should be only two teams in Northern Nevada that should be able to play with us, Fallon and Douglas.”

In previous seasons, the Vikings repeatedly brought one of the best records into zone but played not to lose. This passiveness caused the Vikings to reach for Kleenexes instead of pizza.

But Lambert feels the Vikings’ six-year absence from state is about to end.

“This team is better in a lot of ways than any of those previous teams. Playing at home is a huge advantage, but this team seems to play just as well away from home as they do at home,” Lambert said. “This year we have the momentum going in by beating Fallon and Reno on back-to-back road trips.”

If Galena remains the host volleyball site well into the future, the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association should at least consider giving the schools with the best records first-round matches at home. Basketball and soccer are some of the sports that already have this playoff format in place.

* * *

Galena’s stranglehold on the zone tournament, however, isn’t area volleyball coaches’ main beef. The NIAA is contemplating returning to the best two-of-three match format.

“Three of five is much better for the sport. It’s better for the girls because you can play some players who don’t normally play that much. (In two of three) you have to be a lot more cautious with substitutions,” Lambert said.

* * *

McQueen High football coach Ken Dalton continues to humiliate the Vikings whenever he can.

Even McQueen followers were wondering why Dalton hadn’t removed his starting quarterback, Matt Gotta, with McQueen leading 41-7 in the fourth quarter during a playoff game last Thursday in Reno. Dalton finally substituted for Gotta on the next series, but the veteran Lancers coach didn’t hesitate to go for a first down on fourth and two at the Viking 46 halfway through the fourth period.

South Tahoe played McQueen tougher than the final score reflected and if not for two first-half scoring gifts might have kept the Lancers’ first unit in the game for the full 48 minutes.


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