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2A state: The Meadows rallies for first state title in eight years

Facing a two-game deficit Saturday morning, The Meadows refused to hit the panic button in the Class 2A state volleyball final against 30-win squad Yerington.

Coach Stephanie Heller went back to her motto of “relentness pursuit,” playing with confidence and making every point count.

The Mustangs took their coach’s words to heart, and rallied for a 19-25, 22-25, 25-14, 26-24, 15-13 win at Faith Lutheran.

“After the second game, each player still had that look that we were in this match,” said Heller, whose team won its first title since 2009. “All the hard work, all the extra time players put in after practice, all of that paid off today. It was a great match against a very good Yerington team.”

For the Lions (30-7), it was their second straight defeat in the state final.

“We just couldn’t make the big play when we needed to,” Yerington coach Anna Aiazzi said. “I was disappointed in our team’s effort after grabbing the 2-0 lead. We simply couldn’t get that key point to build momentum in the final three games.”

What worked in the first 33 minutes of the match for Yerington — going to outside hitters Lindsay Mattice and Elizabeth Moreda — didn’t work in games 3 and 4.

Trailing by two sets, the Mustangs used a big 12-4 run in the third set to extend the match. Then raced to leads of 6-1 and 12-4 in the fourth game before hanging on for a two-point win.

“We have more than one or two players that can make plays,” Heller said. “We took away their outside hitters in the middle games and they had to find other ways to score.”

Both teams matched point for point in the fifth set, with the largest lead being three points. It was the Mustangs, with the score knotted at 11, that made the biggest plays — a smash over two blockers from Kathleen Otter, two kills from Dina Kosyagin and a down-the-line kill from Dani Mason for match point.

“What an unbelieveable feeling,” Heller said. “It’s indescrible this feeling with this group of players. They just refuse to quit, they looked each other in the eyes and told each other we’re going to get this done.”

Anna Dorn had 16 digs, 13 kills and six aces to lead The Meadows (34-4-3). Kosyagin finished with 12 kills and nine digs, while Mason finished with 15 kills, two assists and two blocks.

Mattice had 22 kills, and Rachel Dane added 14 kills and 14 assists to lead Yerington (30-7).

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