Lady Tigers advance to Sectional championship
HARRISONVILLE -- Nevada used a tremendous all-around team effort and played its best in crunch time Wednesday night to earn its first volleyball district championship in 10 years.
Third-seeded Nevada fought through an eye-popping 18 ties and scored the final five points to defeat top-seeded Holden 26-24 in Game 1. Then, Nevada posted a 25-18 comeback win in Game 2 to earn the Class 3, District 12 title in a match at Harrisonville High School.
The Lady Tigers (14-14-3) advance to face Logan-Rogersville, a 25-21, 21-25, 25-20 winner over Mountain Grove in a district title match, for the Sectional championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Marshfield. The survivor moves on to a state quarterfinal match against the winner of Reeds Spring (28-5) and Carl Junction (28-4-1) on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“I still can’t really believe it,” Nevada senior setter Emma Dreyer said moments after the Lady Tigers won the district championship. “It feels like I need to wake up right now.”
“They played with all of their heart,” Nevada’s third-year head coach Trudy Fleeman said.
Sophomore outside hitter Mariah Mock totaled 16 kills, including eight straight points late in Game 2, to pace the Lady Tigers.
Nevada played at a high level throughout and again seemed to play its best when it mattered most.
Holden, which defeated the Tigers in three games in the district title match last year and split a pair of invitational games with Nevada this season (resulting in a tie on each team’s record), grabbed a 24-21 lead in a seesaw Game 1 and appeared poised to gain the upperhand.
However, Nevada used kills from Mock and Dreyer to narrow the deficit to 24-23. The Tigers’ well-defended net play forced a Holden attack error and knotted the game at 24.
Mock’s block provided Nevada with a one-point lead and her left-handed kill finished off the first game.
“We fought back,” Nevada senior middle hitter Lindsay Rice said of the key to her team’s comeback. “I thought we covered really well too.”
“We encouraged each other,” senior Kristen Badgley said.
“We made a bunch of big plays at the end,” Fleeman said. “We were able to slide over and get some big blocks at the end.”
In another nip-and-tuck battle, Nevada built a 10-8 lead in Game 2 on Mock’s kill from a Dreyer assist. Holden’s improved attacking led to an 8-3 spurt as the Eagles forged ahead 16-13.
Rice’s cross court kill and block on the ensuing volley jump-started Nevada’s comeback.
After the Tigers knotted the score at 16, Mock took over down the stretch. Mock scored eight consecutive points on kills and teamed with Dreyer for a match-clinching block as Nevada won Game 2 by seven points.
“She jumps so well and has such a really nice swing,” Fleeman said of Mock, who recorded an amazing 10 kills in the final game.
Nevada displayed all-out effort and unselfish ball throughout the match.
“We played as a team,” said senior hitter Lindsey Webb, who calmly served out the match.
“We knew what it was going to take,” Fleeman said. “We practiced all day (Tuesday) to not let the ball hit the floor.”
“We knew we didn’t have time to mess around. We had to play from the beginning,” Dreyer said.
Junior liberio Emily Moore and Jessica Harper had eight digs apiece for the winners. Harper also added two returns with an outstretched left hand in Game 2, an effort that typified the Tigers.
Dreyer recorded a team-high 17 assists while Rice and Mock paced the front row defense with five kills apiece.