FALLON — One by one, members of the Lowry High School volleyball team handed off the Northern 3A regional championship trophy like it was a newborn baby with visitors for the first time.
The Lady Bucks earned that opportunity after beating Truckee in five sets to win the league postseason title this past Saturday at Churchill County High School in Fallon. Lowry won the first two sets 27-25 and 25-21, only to see Truckee win the next two 25-20 and 25-16. The Lady Bucks jumped out to a big lead in the fifth set and cruised to a 15-4 victory.
The Northern 3A championship is the first for the program in more than a decade and Lowry advanced to its first state tournament since 2006. The Lady Bucks won their only state championship, beating North Tahoe in 2005. Lowry lost to Yerington in the 2006 state semifinals.
“We talked about it on the first day of practice that our goal was to win the regular season championship,” said LHS coach Brandon Eastman. “We did that and finished in a three-way tie for first. “We knew today was going to be tough. Truckee is a great team and well coached.”
Coming off its semifinal win over Fernley earlier in the day, Lowry had a short break to get ready for Truckee. The Wolverines scored six of the first nine points of the opening set. The Lady Bucks cut the deficit to a point at 6-5 after a block by Brittany Jacaway and Jadyn Eastman. Kyllie Sappington tied the match at 7-7 with a kill, starting a 6-0 run where Lowry took a 12-7 lead. Sappington added another kill and tip in the run and Brooke Hansen added a block.
Lowry maintained the slim advantage, picking up kills from Julianne Montero and Sierra Maestrejuan. A kill from Sappington gave the Lady Bucks a 22-18 lead and forced the Wolverines to take a time out. The break in the action worked, as Truckee scored the next five points to go in front 23-22. Sappington ended the run with a kill, but Truckee scored moments later to have set point at 24-23. However, Truckee missed the ensuing serve keeping Lowry alive. With the set tied at 25, Brooke Hansen picked up a big block and Truckee had a hitting error on the next point to give the set to Lowry.
The Lady Bucks ran with that momentum and raced out to 7-1 lead in set two. Jacaway had two kills and a block and Tailor West added an ace in the run.
“The contributions from Brooke and Brittany were awesome today,” said the coach. “Brooke got us the kill to get us match point.”
Truckee remained on Lowry’s heels and closed the gap to 13-12, but promptly missed a serve on the next point. The Wolverines tied the set at 16, only to miss another serve. The Lady Bucks took control form there and won the set on a Wolverine hitting error.
The third set was back-and-forth at the beginning, with Eastman tying the match at 7-7 on an ace. Truckee answered back with an 11-3 run to go in front 18-10. Lowry closed the gap to 19-16 but could not get any closer.
Lowry looked poised to win the match in four sets and led 9-6 after a pair of blocks by Eastman. The Lady Bucks kept the three-point margin after a dig by Alyssa Kuskie dropped back in the open floor on Truckee’s side. Kuskie had missed nearly two of the sets because of an injury. The momentum ended there, as Truckee went on a 13-3 run to send the match to a fifth set.
“I think it was more mental and emotional fatigue for us in the third and fourth sets,” Eastman said. “Coming off such a high from beating Fernley and winning the first two sets against Truckee. The girls knew what they were playing for. I could not be more proud of them.”
Everything went right for Lowry in the fifth set, jumping out to a 6-1 lead after a kill by Montero, a block by Jacaway and a kill from Maestrejuan.
The blitz by Lowry continued with an ace by Kuskie and two consecutive kills by Sappington. A kill by Hansen gave Lowry championship point and the Lady Bucks finished the match on the next point.
“Kyllie is one of our senior leaders,” Eastman said. “She does everything for us. She plays six rotations for us. We had a nice talk in practice earlier in the week and I told her I needed her at her best this weekend. That was the best I have seen her play all year.”
Lowry sweeps Fernley
Lowry (21-10 overall) punched its ticket to Las Vegas earlier on Saturday with a 25-18, 25-21 and 25-21 victory over Fernley.
The two squads traded points in the early going, when Lowry slowly pulled away to lead 16-11 in the first set. The Lady Bucks scored consecutive points on a kill by Sappington, a block by Hansen and a kill from Maestrejuan. Lowry’s largest lead was 20-12 after a kill by Montero.
Fernley never got closer than
six points the rest of the way.
Lowry came out sloppy to start the second set and trailed 7-0, forcing Eastman to take a timeout. The Vaqueros missed the ensuing serve and the Lady Bucks slowly chipped away at the advantage.
Each team had a handful of missed serves midway through the set, but Lowry eventually tie it up at 15 after a kill by Maestrejuan and an ace by West. The Vaqueros scored he next two points, only to see Lowry reel off four straight points, which included two kills by Jacaway. The Lady Bucks did not trail gain, picking up a kill and tip in the final points by Sappington.
Sappington had two more kills in the opening stages of the third set and Eastman added an ace off the top of the net to give Lowry a 10-5 lead.
Fernley stayed within striking distance but two kills by Maestrejuan kept the Vaqueros at bay and Lowry completed the sweep.
“We knew they were going to be a tough team,” Eastman said. “We know the weapons they have. The girls came in focused and executed the game plan very well. We kept them out of their system. We kept their offense predictable. From the beginning to the end that was the most focused we have been all year. We executed extremely well.”
Lowry will look to win its second state championship when they play Moapa Valley on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas.
The 3A state championship is set for 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“At the start of the year we were a good team,” Eastman said. “I think we proved that we are a great team. The 3A has been crazy all year and state should be no different. We know we play Moapa and are going to do what we do.”