RENO — It was a matchup between Carson’s quickness against the size and experience of Coronado Friday night in the opening round of the NIAA State Volleyball Championships.
In the end, the defending Division I champion Coronado Cougars simply had too much firepower on their way to a 3-1 victory at Galena High School.
Coronado won by game scores of 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-13. Afterward, coach Matt Johnson acknowledged the Cougars had to work for everything they got.
“They’re a good team,” Johnson said of the Senators. “We had to grind it out. Carson is scrappy, very diverse and very quick … they did some things we weren’t expecting. The middle is our strength and they took us out of our attack.”
Carson (18-10), which came in as the Northern Region runner-up, didn’t back down from the challenge of facing the Cougars.
“They’re a great team, a big team,” coach Robert Maw said. “When you walk in the gym and see all those 6-footers, it’s intimidating. We’re a young team, we fought well. I was very pleased with their effort.”
Coronado (33-7) was led by 17 kills from Berkeley Oblad, a 6-foot-4 senior who has verbally committed to the University of Utah. Carolyn Andrulis added 15 kills and 5-11 setter Cali Thompson dished out 53 assists. Navi Lee led the defense with 13 digs.
Carson started strong in the first set. Juliana Anderson and Kylie Riske combined on a block that gave the Senators a 3-0 lead while Maddie Jergesen and Anderson combined on another block as Carson pulled to within 10-8. Anderson also put down kills that kept Carson within 16-15 and 18-16, however, the Cougars countered with two late kills from Oblad to close out the set.
The scrappy Senators hung tough in the second set. Sophomore Jaycie Roberts put a hit down the line and later came up with a diving dig to save the ball for a point that kept the Senators within 13-10. But then Oblad had two kills and a block to spark a 5-0 run that put Coronado in charge.
Carson came to life in the third game thanks to an 8-2 run that was sparked by a Riske block, while Anderson followed with a kill on a quick middle set and then a cross-court shot to put the Senators on top 13-7.
In the end, Natalie Anderson’s service ace gave Carson a 24-22 lead and then Maddie Jergesen put down a kill over Oblad to the middle of the court to close the set out.
“We adjusted our block to stop their cross-court attack and it worked in game three because we had a lot of blocks,” Maw said. “We just didn’t make that change quick enough.”
Emily Bender led off the fourth set with a service ace and Coronado never trail on its way to a berth in the championship round.
Julianna Anderson finished the night with nine kills and 10 digs, while freshman Natalie Anderson contributed five blocks, three kills and 24 assists. Roberts also had four kills, four blocks and 13 digs; Jergesen had eight kills, six and a half blocks and one dig, to go with three kills and three blocks from Riske.
Johnson expects the Cougars to face another tough test in the 2 p.m. championship match today at Galena.
“It’s the state championship, we know it’s going to be tough,” he said. “They’re all back from last year so they know the atmosphere. But no matter who we play, it’s going to be tough.”
With only one senior due to depart on graduation day (Sarah Cristl) in addition to four sophomores, the Senators are already looking forward to next season.
“For being as young as we were this year, we want more,” Maw said. “We’ll be back banging at the door, and we want in.”