During a normal season, the Pahrump Valley High School girls volleyball team would use an event such as the Boulder City Invitational as a midseason test, to see how the Trojans stack up against a variety of teams at this point in the season.
This year was different, said Trojans coach Jill Harris.
“We lost two seniors last week,” Harris said Monday after the Trojans swept Western 25-5, 25-23, 25-18 to stay undefeated in the Class 3A Sunset League. “I had two seniors quit, so we had to rework a whole, brand-new lineup. I wasn’t planning on doing much at this tournament except trying different lineups, different rotations and things like that so that we have a system for when we get Mojave next week.”
Pahrump Valley (12-9) is 7-0 in the Sunset, while Mojave (20-7) is right behind at 6-1. The Trojans won the first meeting between the teams 3-2 on Sept. 13 at Mojave.
Harris seems optimistic about some of the changes she was forced into making. She was pleased with the play of junior Maddie Hansen and encouraged by the efforts of freshman Tayla Wombaker.
“The biggest change was Maddie Hansen,” Harris said. “She went from setting to libero. But Maddie Hansen’s an all-around athlete, so she will figure it out. She played libero last year so she’s comfortable with the position.
“And then we had to bring up Taylor Wombaker as a freshman setter. She’s a freshman off the JV, and she set for us. She’s aggressive, she’s calling for it all the time, she is begging for that ball. I mean she wants it all the time, mistake or not, she doesn’t care, she’s going to go for it. I like her aggressiveness. She’ll figure it out.”
The Sunset League schedule offers the Trojans some opportunities to work things out. Several foes are not that strong, allowing Harris to test ideas without much fear of losing.
Against Western, it looked early on as if the home team would offer only token opposition. With Jackie Stobbe serving to start the opening set, Pahrump Valley scored the first five points, went up 9-1 and then ran off 12 consecutive points to turn a solid 9-4 lead into an overwhelming 21-4 advantage. The second and third sets were more competitive, but the tone had been set.
Kate Daffer finished with nine kills, while Nicky Velazquez added seven for the Trojans. Hansen served three aces, while Stobbe totaled 12 assists.
“Tonight was a different system than even we ran over the weekend,” Harris said. “I think we’ve figured it out. The first set and the third set is the rotation we’re going to go with.”
Settling on that is good news for a team that had a rough weekend in Boulder City. The Trojans opened by beating Virgin Valley but then lost consecutive matches to Basic and Las Vegas on Friday, then Las Vegas, Desert Oasis, Pahranagat Valley and Bonanza on Saturday. But Harris put the tournament to good use and said it worked the way she had hoped.
“That was our goal for the weekend,” she said. “So yes, we had a poor showing, but we didn’t run the same rotation ever in any of the sets. I didn’t go to that tournament to win. We had to learn. We had to learn what we couldn’t do and what we can do. That was the whole purpose of that tournament for me, and thankfully we had the opportunity to go to it.”