If you’re interested in Pahrump Valley High School girls volleyball, mark Oct. 16 on your calendar. Coach Jill Harris already has.
Actually, matches between the Trojans and Mojave likely were marked on the calendar already, as they are the favorites in the Sunset League. But after the Rattlers edged the Trojans 25-23, 25-23, 27-25 on Thursday night in Pahrump, that date looms even larger.
“We’re going to have to beat them in three, and we’re going to have to hold them to fewer points,” Harris said, noting that if the teams tie for the division title, the tiebreaker is based on their head-to-head results. “We’ve got to have everybody playing. If everybody’s playing, we can beat this team.”
Harris said that was the issue Thursday, as the Trojans seemed to be out of sync, especially early.
“There were a lot of communication errors, especially in those first two sets,” Harris said.
The first set was tight early, but the Rattlers went on a roll midway through it to turn an 11-8 lead into a 19-9 bulge. But suddenly Mojave started to make some mistakes as the Trojans reeled off 8 consecutive points highlighted by a monster kill from Kate Daffer after a long rally. And in a matter of moments it was 19-17.
The comeback didn’t exactly put a smile on Harris’ face.
“Why did we fall behind?” she said. “That’s my frustration with this.”
The teams traded points the rest of the way until one of Pahrump Valley’s 7 service errors saw the ball go into the net on set point.
“We had a lot of serving errors,” Harris said.
The second set was similar, with the teams even at 8-8 before a series of Pahrump Valley errors fueled a 7-1 Mojave run. The Trojans pulled within 3 points at 20-17, but back-to-back kill attempts going long — one not really close — led Harris to use a timeout.
“You’re just trying to stop the chaos,” Harris said of the timeouts late in each set. “You’re just trying to get them to calm down and get their heads back in the game. You’re basically a cheerleader at that point.”
A pair of Kylie Stritenberger kills on set points kept things interesting, but the Trojans couldn’t get a handle on a bullet from Mojave’s Ashlee Busby on the third set point as the Rattlers went up 2-0.
The third set was a different story, as the Trojans had leads of 8-4, 10-5 early. And, unlike during the first two sets, they were able to claw even after the Rattlers pulled ahead. Still, Pahrump Valley never had a match point while Mojave had three, with one final error deciding the matter.
There were bright spots for the Trojans.
“Kylie played a good game tonight,” Harris said. “We don’t normally have her play back row at all, and she did a great job in the back row. I thought Maddie Hansen set well tonight. She had a really good game.”
Indeed, Hansen posted 15 assists for the Trojans.
“Kaylee Hargis ran well on the outside,” Harris continued. “She was not afraid to go against their blockers, and she seldom got blocked. Nicky (Velazquez) played a real solid game tonight defensively, offensively, and she served well.”
Velazquez finished with 10 kills, while Daffer tallied 11 and Stritenberger added 7. But for Harris, the story of the match was what didn’t happen as much as what did.
“Some of our go-to’s just weren’t on tonight,” she said. “Some of the ones we go to normally didn’t have their best game. If we had everybody playing their best game … I mean we were in all three of them. It could have gone either way.
“Our go-to people have got to have a better-than-average game against this team, and they played maybe average. And average for them really isn’t good enough. I expect the people who have been playing with me the longest to, when it’s tight, step up and do it, and I don’t think they did tonight.”
They will get another chance to do so Oct. 16 at Mojave.