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All 3 local schools ready for volleyball playoffs
by Aaron Retherford
Nov 02, 2009 | 665 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photos/John Byrne - Reed setter Kyndal Comphel (above) and Spanish Springs middle Emily Meister (below) will both try to help lead their teams when the regional volleyball tournament begins Wednesday.
Tribune file photos/John Byrne - Reed setter Kyndal Comphel (above) and Spanish Springs middle Emily Meister (below) will both try to help lead their teams when the regional volleyball tournament begins Wednesday.
Rail City volleyball fans are about to witness history. For the first time ever, all three local schools are postseason bound.

That being a first is not a surprise considering Spanish Springs has never earned a playoff berth and Sparks has been struggling in prep volleyball obscurity for a decade.

But the three Sparks schools could not have earned much harder first-round opponents.

Reed and Spanish Springs picked up the third and fourth seeds by finishing 7-5 and 6-6 in the High Desert League respectively.

However, neither team has an edge over the other due to how the Sierra League played out this fall.

Damonte Ranch and Bishop Manogue tied for the regular season league championship after both squads went 13-1 and split the season series with each other. Tie-breaking rules gave the Mustangs the No. 1 seed and the Miners the No. 2 seed. Both teams will host their regional quarterfinal matchups at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

While Manogue is the second seed, it is the defending state champion and have the Anxo twins back to lead the team. Reed lost to the Miners 3-1 in a non-league matchup in early September and know the challenge ahead of it this week.

"For us to be successful, we have to be able to block," Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt said. "They have a couple big hitters, but I think we have the ability to block well. We also have to play good defense, and be strong offensively as well."

The Raiders also know what Spanish Springs is in for Wednesday. Damonte hosted Reed last year in the first round of the playoffs. After dropping Game 1, the Mustangs routed the visiters 75-41 to win the next three games. Sisters Rae and Chaiymin Steele both pounded 21 kills in that match, while setter Emily Byrne handed out 47 assists.

SSHS coach Frank Sandomenico knows that trio will be tough to combat.

"They're just a really good team. They've got two outside hitters who are some of the best in the area. They pass the ball well and have a good setter," the Cougars' second-year coach said. "The only way we're going to be able to compete with them is if we serve aggressively and just get them out of their comfort zone and make them scramble."

Damonte won the state title in 2006 and has become one of the premier programs in the North. But the Cougars are still looking forward to the challenge after reaching the regional tournament for the first time in school history.

"They're excited. It was our goal at the beginning of the year to qualify for the playoffs," Sandomenico said. "We're looking forward to our girls having the chance to compete with a team of that level and see their hard work pay off."

There's another thing on the line for Reed and Spanish Springs - pride. Since the league realignment that saw Galena, Fallon and Bishop Manogue leave the High Desert League, the Sierra League has been considered the much stronger league of the two. HDL schools are looking for some respect.

"I think we are as strong, but it just matters on who shows up to play," Flagtvedt said. "We have some strong teams on the High Desert side, but I don't think we get the notice because the Sierra League tends to be strong as well. People need to take the High Desert teams seriously because we have some talent as well."

Sparks won't have to take the court until Saturday when the Northern 3A regional starts.

Luckily for the Railroaders, the top two teams in the 3A North receive first-round byes. As the final team to qualify for the playoffs, Sparks would have had to play undefeated Truckee if not for the byes.

Instead, the Railroaders will have to face off against the only team above .500 outside of the top two teams. Dayton went 8-4 in league with its only losses coming to Truckee (12-0) and No. 2 seed Yerington (10-2).

The Dust Devils swept Sparks twice this year by sizable margins, 25-12, 25-15, 25-19 and 25-13, 25-17, 25-13.

"They just have really strong hitters. Some teams only have one or two, but they have three or four," Sparks coach Tarina Elliott said. "We really just have to be on our toes and find their holes. That's all we can do not having the biggest hitters in the league. We have to play our passing game. As long as we take care of our passes and serves, I think they're beatable."

The Railroaders claimed the final playoff spot by beating Spring Creek for the second time this season in their regular season finale. Sparks finished 3-9 in league with the other win coming against Lowry, the fifth seed.

But none of the girls know what it's like to play in the playoffs. Elliott did take a group of girls last year to see what the tournament was all about, but that is the extent of the Maroon and Gold's playoff experience.

"My older girls are very, very excited. My younger girls aren't really sure what it is, so they're going to see when they get there," Elliott said. "My seniors couldn't be anymore excited. It's a great way to end the year and their volleyball careers."

All matches will be played at Truckee in the one-day event. Sparks' match against Dayton will begin at 11:40 a.m.
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