The Raiders played some of their best volleyball of the season and stole Game 1 of Wednesday’s first-round regional playoff before getting saddled with a 21-25, 25-11, 25-13, 25-17 loss to Damonte Ranch.
The tough road loss concluded the fall campaign for Reed, which finished with a 18-22 overall record. The Raiders 7-5 league mark earned them the High Desert League’s third seed and return trip to the postseason after a one-year hiatus.
“We stepped up and played well. Damonte has some girls that can jump out of the gym,” Reed coach Kristen Flagtvedt. “I told the kids after the game, ‘it’s OK to be disappointed, but you have nothing to hang your heads about.’ Our girls played hard. We knew going in it was going to be tough and we’d have to play a near-perfect match to win.”
Damonte Ranch, the Sierra League’s regular season runner-up improved to 24-6 with the playoff victory and advances to a Northern 4A regional semifinal Friday at Bishop Manogue against Reno.
Prep prognosticators across northern Nevada have hyped the Sierra League as the superior conference this season, but Reed showed it was a game foe right from the first point.
The Raiders scored that first point on an Elizabeth Stacy ace. Reed led 6-5 following a service error by Damonte’s Chaiymin Steel.
The score was still tight, 9-9, after an ace by Reed’s Chelsea Cohen.
That’s when Damonte Ranch grabbed the Game 1 momentum. A kill by Steel forged the southeast Reno school ahead 18-12.
However, Reed turned the tide with a string of six straight points — highlighted by a pair of Alex Corona aces — to knot the game at 18-18.
Damonte Ranch went up 20-19 on another Steel kill, but the Mustangs luck ran out from there in Game 1.
Reed responded to tie the game again, 20-20, on a block by Jackie Lee and Cohen. The Raiders then reeled off five of the next six points to close out the initial game. Reed setter Rachael Vaughn capped the contest with a dump kill for the 25-21 triumph.
“Reed’s a good team. We can’t take that away from them,” Damonte Ranch coach Velvet Steel said. “We had some girls that were nervous. This is no time for that. I said from the get-go that you can’t under-estimate anybody, but I think maybe we did a little bit.”
Unfortunately for Raider fans, that was the highlight of the night.
The Mustangs came out with a vengeance in Game 2, scoring the first five points. Damonte, the 2006 state volleyball champion, was never really threatened in Game 2. A Reed point trimmed the Mustangs’ edge to 19-10, but the Raiders watched their opponents post six of the final seven points in Game 2 and knot the match at a game apiece.
Game 3 was close early. A Damonte Ranch service error left the Mustangs holding a slim 8-6 lead. They blew the game open from there, torching the Raiders’ defense for 10 consecutive points en route to the 12-point winning margin.
Despite trailing two games to one, Reed had plenty of fight left. Game 4 was close most of the way.
Damonte did get off to a 6-1 lead after an ace by junior Rae Steel, but Reed rallied and pulled within two, 12-10, thanks to a Brooke Silva ace.
The Raiders never could tie the game but they continued to hang around. A back-row kill by Corona pulled the RHS crew within three, 18-15.
That’s as good as it got for the east Sparks school and Damonte scored the next three points to kick off a 7-2 spurt that wrapped up the match.
Rae and Chaiymin Steel were just too much for Reed. The sister act combined for 42 kills, 21 each. Chaiymin Steel also chipped in 7 digs, 7 aces and 4 blocks to the Mustangs’ winning cause.
A third Steel sister, Riece, added 18 digs and 9 kills for DRHS. Damonte setter Emily Byrne gave away 47 assists.
Reed’s offense was paced by Lee, who put down 10 kills and 4 blocks. Cohen chipped in 6 kills and 13 digs while Corona had 4 kills and 12 digs for the visiting Raiders.
“We got our blocks up, but they have good hitters. They are a talented team,” Cohen said. “We came out in the first game really fired up. We wanted to prove that we belonged here.”