The loss put the finishing touches on a season that will be remembered for the would-have, could-have and should-haves for Reed as the Raiders finished 14-12 overall, including Tuesday’s North Region Tournament first-round exit.
The Raiders were saddled with numerous five-game losses this season, including both matches against rival Spanish Springs (High Desert League champions). The Raiders led both matches against the Cougars, two games to one, before dropping the final two.
“I just felt like I had a very strong group of seniors. Unfortunately, it just came to we got to five and we couldn’t finish,” Reed coach Kris Flagtvedt said. “It’s unfortunate for that but I do feel that we were better than a .500 team.”
The turning point of the Tuesday's playoff tilt came late in the second game. With the Raiders trailing 17-14, Reed’s emotional and statistical leader, Mo Maluotoga, was set perfectly. After attacking the ball, Maluotoga crumbled to the gym floor, landing awkwardly on her right ankle.
With tears in her eyes, Maluotoga, a senior, yelled in frustration that she “needed to play,” realizing her Reed volleyball career was over.
Unable to put any weight on the ankle, Maluotoga was helped off the court by Flagtvedt and the Manogue medical staff, watching the rest of the match from a wheelchair.
The Miners took seven of the next eight points from the deflated Raiders' squad to win the second game, 25-15. Manogue then scored the first eight points of the third game.
“I think no matter what, when you lose someone that has been a starter and is consistently in the game, not having that person to rely on, changes how the other players react. It showed.” Flagtvedt said. “I don’t think we as a team knew how to respond to fill that void.”
Flagtvedt said after the game she did not believe Maluotoga sustained a serious injury and Maluotoga posted on Twitter a few hours after the game that her ankle was not broken.
Manogue set an intimidating tone early, scoring the first four points of the first game. Flagtvedt did not believe her team was nervous or failed to execute. She thought her team lacked the intensity needed for the playoffs, a rare occurrence for a team that played with infectious fire and emotion all season.
The Raiders were hounded by Manogue’s middle blocker Katelyn Oppio (nine kills) and outside hitter Kelsie Hill, who compiled 15 kills in the three-game win.
“She (Hill) hit the ball well and we just didn’t have an answer for her like I would have liked,” Flagtvedt said.
The Raiders whittled the first-game deficit to 10-8 and 22-19 late but never possessed the lead in the 25-20 loss.
RHS setter Annie Braun put together a strong night at the net, turning in four and-a-half blocks as well as 18 assists, two aces and a kill and dig apiece. Emilie Braun finished with a team-high, eight kills.
Bishop Manogue advances to the North Region semifinals, Thursday, against McQueen (HDL No. 2 seed) at Reno High.
Flagtvedt described the Raiders’ season as one having “a lot of ups and downs.”
Unfortunately for the Raiders, there were far more downs, than ups, Tuesday night.