The semifinal match was the one that meant the most in the Class 1A Central-Southern Region tournament last week at Tonopah.
Most meaningful because it determined if a team would be advancing to the state tournament in Reno.
And the Lady Panthers, the two-time defending state champions, did advance, but it took a 3-2 win over host Tonopah to do it, and a two-point victory in game five to settle the issue. Scores in the match were 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-14, and 15-13.
Pahranagat coach Milly Walch said, “We had seen them earlier. [Assistant coach Amy Campbell] and I watched them and saw that they were going to match up pretty good with us, and we even figured it might go five sets, especially being on Tonopah’s home court.”
After the teams split the first two games, Walch said Pahranagat had a lead in the third set, but lost it 22-25 as the Muckers made a successful comeback.
In game four, Walch said the girls “battled super hard and never quit,” in taking the set and setting up the deciding fifth game.
“Tonopah took an early 4-1 lead in that game,” she said, “so the whole time we just had to keep clipping away and attack harder, which they did. Our kills were strong, and our serves were good. At times I even put in sophomore Becka Back right off the bench to serve, and she did very well getting it over every time.”
But that was only the semifinals. After just a 10-15 minute break, the girls had to turn around and face Smith Valley in the championship to see which team would be seeded No. 1 from the South Region into the state tournament in Reno.
“The girls were really tired, emotionally and physically, from that semifinal match. We dug as deep as we could, but really didn’t play our best,” Walch said.
However, tired as they were they still managed to top Smith Valley, 25-16, 26-24, and 25-20 to take the No. 1 seed.
It was also their sixth consecutive league/regional tournament title.
Pahranagat had opened the tourney on Friday with a 3-0 win over Round Mountain.
Now, the Lady Panthers (18-8) will face Eureka (27-5) in the state semifinals this Friday at Reed High School.
Pahranagat and Eureka last played in 2013, also in the state semifinals.
Smith Valley (21-12) will meet North Region champion Virginia City (20-6) and their 15-match win streak, in the other semifinal.
The tournament switches to Bishop Manogue High School on Saturday, where all classifications will hold their championship finals.