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Pahrump Valley learning fast

The way coach Jill Harris sees it, her Pahrump Valley girls volleyball team just doesn’t know any better.

“I think in this case ignorance is bliss,” Harris said. “They don’t know they’re winning a lot more games than people expected. They just go out and play and have a good time.”

While other teams at Pahrump Valley have struggled in the school’s first year after moving up from Class 3A to 4A — the girls golf squad, which qualified for the state tournament, being the notable exception — the volleyball team has made a seamless transition to the large-school level.

The Trojans ended the regular season with a 3-0 sweep over Spring Valley to reach 20 wins and finish third in the Southwest League at 12-4.

And a year after losing to eventual state champion Yerington in the 3A state semifinals, Pahrump Valley (20-9) opens the 4A Sunset Region playoffs at 6 p.m. today at Northwest League No. 2 Palo Verde (23-12). Both the Sunset and Sunrise Region tournaments are scheduled to begin today at host sites.

“They don’t look at what could have been,” Harris said. “None of them have said they wish they were in 3A. They’re thrilled with the season we have had. They consider themselves in it here.”

Part of the reason for Pahrump Valley’s success, according to Harris, is the lack of intimidation playing against 4A schools. The Trojans feature six seniors on their roster to go along with four sophomores, and many of them have faced 4A schools in other sports.

“A lot of the girls play basketball or run track,” Harris said, “so they’re not unfamiliar with the workings of 4A.”

One of those players is senior Kristi Daffer. The outside hitter leads the Trojans in kills and has been a leader on and off the court.

“Kristi is just a really good athlete all the way around,” Harris said.

Also playing key roles in Harris’ modified 6-2 offense are setters Arlette Scott, a senior, and sophomore Ashley Lindgren. Scott leads the team in assists and “has a really nice set of hands,” according to Harris. Lindgren has stepped up in her first year playing the position.

“They have been a real good tandem for our team,” Harris said.

The Trojans enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the area. Since a 3-1 home loss to Bishop Gorman on Sept. 23, Pahrump Valley has won 12 of its last 13 matches — the only setback being to league champion Gorman in a rematch.

One of those victories was a 3-1 win against Durango, which was the state 4A runner-up last season and features 6-foot-6-inch Stanford recruit Hayley Spelman. It was easily the biggest notch in the belt for any Pahrump Valley team since the move to 4A.

“Beating Durango out here was huge,” Harris said. “It didn’t do anything for our league standing, but it was a feather in our cap. It was a big huge boost of confidence and a big win for morale boosting.”

The Trojans played Palo Verde earlier this season at the Las Vegas Invitational and were beaten in two straight games. But that was a different Pahrump Valley team, one that was still adjusting to Harris, who returned to the bench after taking the last two seasons off. Only Daffer, a four-year varsity player, had worked with Harris previously.

“The girls just continue to improve,” said Harris, who is hoping the experience of last season’s postseason run will benefit the Trojans. “We’ve been beat by other people before and come back and (won). I think we’ll be OK. I think we’ve shown ourselves to be competitive in this division.”

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