The Pahrump Valley High School girls volleyball team had a very busy weekend, playing 11 matches Friday and Saturday in the Boulder City Invitational.
“We got four matches that first night, got home at midnight, turned around and got in the vans at 6 and played seven more matches the next day,” Trojans coach Jill Harris said. “That’s the best showing we ever had in that tournament.”
But there’s always room for improvement, and one match in particular, against Somerset Academy-Sky Pointe, was tough for the Trojans to swallow.
“When we played this team at the tournament last weekend, it was awful,” Harris said.
“We wanted to beat them because we didn’t like not winning against them in Boulder City, so we were out for vengeance,” senior Maddie Hansen said.
And vengeance was what they got.
Kate Daffer posted 13 kills, 3 aces and 2 blocks and Kylie Stritenberger added 9 blocks to lead Pahrump Valley to a 25-10, 25-19, 25-19 victory over Sky Pointe on Wednesday night in a Sunset League match in Pahrump.
Hansen, who finished with 35 assists, was one of several players Harris had high praise for after the match.
“Maddie Hansen set really well tonight,” said Harris, whose team is 4-1 in the Sunset. “I think it’s the most assists she’s ever had in a match. We’ve won in five and not had this many assists, and we won in three. That was her best game tonight.”
Hansen credited improved communication for her standout performance.
“I felt like I was talking a lot more, and I had my team that was behind me that also was helping me a lot,” Hansen said. “They were talking to me, telling me what sets they wanted. I think it all came down to talking.”
That had to be music to the ears of Harris, who pointed out communications issues on the floor in earlier matches. But she also was happy with a lineup change that saw sophomore Tayla Wombaker take over at libero.
“We switched up our libero, and I think it made a lot of difference,” Harris said. “Tayla works hard in the back row, she’s getting way better at reading balls, she’s moving on everything, she talks, and she’s serving pretty well, too.
“She wasn’t happy sitting three rotations, and she went after it. I said that since the beginning of the season, nobody’s spot is set in stone, and if you’re not going to hustle somebody’s going to go after your spot.”
Wombaker, who also worked her way into the starting lineup during basketball season last winter, finished with 16 digs.
It’s too early for Harris to know if Wednesday night’s rotation is the Trojans’ best, but the early returns are positive.
“That was the rotation we played over in Boulder City,” Harris said. “I’m much happier with the way this rotation is going. Kate Daffer seems to have dialed it back in for us. She was off a couple of games, and she’s one of our go-to’s, and we’ve got to have her. And my outside hitters … I’m so pleased with Kaylee Hargis on the outside. I’m pleased with Mahina (Araujo). They don’t look intimidating, but they keep those balls in and they keep those balls down, a shocking number of balls down.”
Araujo, who finished with 4 kills, had a strong all-around game, Harris noted.
“I would say Mahina Araujo had several good serves out there,” she said. “She came through with very clutch plays as far as kills, but Mahina’s serving tonight was absolutely fabulous. They had a hard time dealing with her serves.”
Araujo was serving when the Trojans took control of the first set. Pahrump Valley had just stretched an 8-7 lead to 13-8 when the junior took the ball, and by the time she gave it up the lead had ballooned to 20-9.
“We’re still missing more serves than I care for, but we’re serving tougher. We’ve got to attack on serves.”
“Attack” is a word you hear a lot in talking Pahrump Valley volleyball.
“We want to be in the attacking mode,” Hansen said. “We want to be always attacking.”
In the second set, the Eagles held the lead most of the way, finally surrendering it at 20-19 when Daffer slammed a ball off of a Sky Pointe player’s hands. Daffer and Stritenberger then dominated the next few points as the Trojans closed the set with six consecutive points, capped by a Daffer kill off of an assist by Stritenberger.
The Trojans again fell behind in the third, trailing 4-0 and 6-2 early. But they got on track quicker that time, reeling off nine consecutive points to take an 11-6 lead. The Eagles kept it close for a while, but a 17-13 lead was soon 21-14, and alternating points weren’t going to be good enough for the visitors. Consecutive balls into the net provided the final points for the Trojans.
“We are pretty confident,” Hansen acknowledged. “Volleyball is a game of mistakes, and you just have to let them roll off your back. You have to keep going forward and be confident.
“We definitely could be playing at a higher level … We’re still working on a lot of things. Some nights when not everyone’s on, we’re there to pick each other up and be good teammates.”
It’s enough to make an observer wonder just how good this team could be if everyone played a strong game at the same time.
“We could be underestimated,” Harris said. “It’s starting to click.”
The Trojans will play at 6 p.m. today against Western at home.