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Trojans volleyball one step away from state

<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Lauren Ashford practices her defensive skills with Andi Bishop on Wednesday in preparation for the Trojans’ big game against Boulder City.</p>

Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Lauren Ashford practices her defensive skills with Andi Bishop on Wednesday in preparation for the Trojans’ big game against Boulder City.

It was like watching a rerun on TV. The two teams had both been there before, but this year there was a twist.

On Tuesday afternoon the Lady Trojans volleyball team did what last year’s team could not accomplish and that is advance to the semifinals of the playoffs by beating Chaparral 3-1.

The Trojans finished in a strong second place with a record of 7-3 in league play and 18-16 overall.

This year the Trojans have a stronger back line led by Sophomore Lauren Ashford, a far better front line led by junior Shayla Dance, freshman Jill Smith, and senior Mikayla Davis. The front line is a very aggressive blocking line and combined with the back row makes for a solid defense.

Of course, no team would go anywhere if they could not score and the Trojans come at you from all over the court. This team can put the hurt on another team in many different ways. Last year was the hard hitting from Payton Hart and this year there is Hart, Smith, Lauren Koenig and Dance.

Harris was very proud of the team for advancing in the playoffs.

“Chap beat us last year quite easily,” Harris said. “It was on their home floor. The lines on the floor are terrible, especially if you aren’t used to them. We started the match a little bit slow. We kind of dug ourselves a hole right away. We chipped away at the score and finally made it a respectable loss, but a loss none the less. The next three sets were pretty much neck and neck. We however did not have to dig out and that certainly helped. I think in the end it came down to unforced errors. They made a few more than we did.”

Harris feels her team is peaking at the right moment.

“So I guess you could say everybody did their job. This was a big win because Chap went to the state finals last year and to get there they trounced over us. I was pleased with their play,” she said.

The team played the top seed from the Sunrise League, the Boulder City Eagles on Thursday, which was too late to report. The Eagles were 12-0 in league play and 21-9 overall.

This team will be tough for the Trojans and Harris knows this. The Trojans lost to the Eagles at the beginning of the second half. The matches were close, (25-17, 20-25, 23-25, 18-25) If the Trojans played like they played Faith during the last game of the season, there could be an upset in the making.

“As far as Boulder City is concerned, they are the number one team on the other side and they don’t get that way by doing poorly. They beat us once this season. They have a big girl, I think her name is Whitney Barlow who swings confidently all the way around. They have some tough servers too. So, we will focus on blocking and defense to get ready for this game. If the girls come in mentally ready to play, I know it will be an exciting match to watch,” she said.

Harris said her team will be ready.

“It would be very exciting if we were to get by Boulder City. I believe the girls have the ability. They need to come and play their game and things have a way of falling into place for them,” she concluded.

The players are also excited and ready to play in the semifinals and were asked about their chances in the big game.

“We definitely have the capability of beating them because we beat them the first match the last time and after that I think we gave up because of the big girl they have. I think we can take them this time,” senior outside hitter Payton Hart said.

“We definitely are a better team since we played Boulder City the first time and we are playing so much harder. I feel we are all working so hard for this. I think both Shayla and I will be able to get up high on Boulder and stop some of their balls. That will help out our back row a lot,” senior blocker Mikayla Davis said.

“I feel good about this game. We really played well against them last time and now we know who to look out for now,” senior setter Bryana Soliwoda said.

Some of the players on the team have been playing under Harris for a while. Junior blocker Shayla Dance has been with the team for three years. When asked which team she thought was the best team in the last three years she replied, “I definitely think this team is the best because we have been playing with each other for a while. We know who is going to take the ball and what the other person is going to do.”

Payton Hart: 60 hits, 12 kills, 24 digs; Shayla Dance: 32 hits, 8 kills; Lauren Koenig: 18 hits, 6 kills; Bryana Soliwoda: 20 assists; Jill Smith 11 assists; Mikayla Davis: 8 blocks; Lauren Ashford: 24 digs.

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