Chaparral seniors Katie Oliveira, Jaeda Allen, Cheyenne Huntsman and Rita Mesa-Mola were born in 1995, the same year the Cowboys made their last appearance in the girls volleyball state tournament.
They aim to make the school’s return a memorable one when they face South Tahoe for the Division I-A state title at noon today.
The Cowboys shook off a slow start to beat Truckee, the North No. 1 seed, 15-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20 in a semifinal match at Galena on Friday.
Chaparral will face South Tahoe, which rallied to beat Southern No. 1 seed Faith Lutheran, 26-24, 21-25, 13-25, 28-26, 15-12.
Allen said the seniors are aware how long it’s been since the Cowboys (24-13) reached such heights.
“That’s my main motivation, to bring it back to my school and make it better,” Allen said.
With her team showing jitters in a sluggish first set, Allen decided she needed to take over.
“I felt like we needed a push and motivation,” she said. “Most of it was probably nerves, but we knew that we had to come home with something. We couldn’t just stop and lay down like that.”
Allen came up with a kill almost every time her team seemed to be faltering. She had six in the third set, punctuating it with a vicious spike for set point.
After Truckee (23-10) closed within 23-20 in the fourth set, Allen drilled another spike, then served an ace for match point. She finished with 28 kills.
“That’s an MVP performance right there,” Chaparral coach Jay Renneker said.
Mesa-Mola added 14 kills, Huntsman had 21 digs and nine aces, and Oliveira handed out 51 assists for Chaparral.
In the other semifinal, South Tahoe (18-8) staved off a handful of match points to force a fifth set, where they outlasted the Crusaders (30-10).
Faith Lutheran held a 19-14 lead in the first set, and rallied from a 14-20 fourth-set deficit to twice serve for the match.
“In the fifth set it comes down to who can control the ball the best, and we gave up a few too many free balls,” Faith Lutheran coach Amy Fisher said. “Volleyball is an emotional sport and momentum swings happen very quickly.”
■ Spanish Springs 3, Bishop Gorman 2 – At Galena, Gorman’s dreams of a first state title were dashed when the Gaels couldn’t complete a comeback against the Cougars.
The Gaels dropped the first two sets 25-18, 25-21 before rallying to even the match by dominating the next two 25-12, 25-19. But Spanish Springs held on for a 17-15 win in the deciding fifth set.
The Cougars play Green Valley (33-4) for the title at 4 p.m. today.
■ Green Valley 3, Bishop Manogue 2 – At Galena, the Gators looked every bit the part of a reigning state champion and will now get the chance to repeat.
After giving up a two sets to none lead, last year’s Class 4A state champions recovered to beat Bishop Manogue, 25-11, 25-18, 22-25, 23-25, 15-10.
“That’s been our goal all year long,” Green Valley coach Erin Hill said. “We’re going to give it our all in the state championship match.”
■ Pershing County 3, Calvary Chapel 2 – At Damonte Ranch, the Mustangs (32-3) stormed back from two sets down to post a 20-25, 19-25, 25-15, 25-21, 15-12 win over the Lions (32-9) in the semifinals.
Brooke Davis had 42 assists and 14 digs, and Deja Harris posted 26 kills, nine digs and eight blocks to lead Calvary Chapel.
■ Yerington 3, The Meadows 0 – At Damonte Ranch, the Lions (27-12) rolled to a 25-10, 25-23, 25-20 win over the Mustangs (20-13).
Yerington and Pershing County meet in the final at 2 p.m. today at Galena.
■ Tonopah 3, Smith Valley 0 – At Damonte Ranch, Alli Friel racked up 10 assists, six digs, five kills, two blocks and two aces as the Muckers (24-5) advanced to the final with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-18 sweep of the Bulldogs (16-9).
Deanna VanPoucke had eight kills, 11 digs and four blocks, and Elise Salsbury added 13 assists and two aces for Tonopah, which will meet Pahranagat Valley (19-7) for the title at 10 a.m. today at Galena.
■ Pahranagat Valley 3, Virginia City 0 – At Damonte Ranch, the Panthers cruised to a 25-14, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18 win over the Muckers (24-4).In-depth high school sports coverage