The Carson High volleyball team has qualified for its first state tournament since 1987 when it won its last zone championship.
The Senators reached Saturday’s championship game against rival Douglas by topping Reed 25-14, 25-21, 23-25 and 25-12 Thursday night at North Valleys High School.
The finals match is set for 4 p.m. at North Valleys. Regardless of the outcome, both teams move on to next weekend’s state tournament at Galena High School.
The win avenged a loss that came the second week of league play.
“It feels like I’m top of the world,” said outside hitter Jaycie Roberts, who had 18 kills and 10 digs. “This was one of my goals, to win state, when I was playing back in middle school for coach Maw.
“I thought it would be a much tougher match. We showed a lot of heart tonight and played as a team.”
And in the process made Carson’s fourth-year coach a happy man.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Carson coach Robert Maw said. “When we played Reed the first time we had just installed our new offense and the girls were just learning it. We showed Reed that we were a totally different team.”
One key was the quick starts Carson got off to in the first and fourth games. The fast start in the opening game set the tone for the night, and the quick start in the fourth game showed the maturity and heart after Reed had avoided a sweep with its 25-23 win. Reed’s offense never really got on track, and the Senators picked up a lot of balls.
“Obviously I think that made a big difference,” Maw said. “One of the strengths of our team is our middles. They (Maddie Jergesen and Kylie Riske) are good blockers. I think Maddie is No. 2 in the state and Kylie is No. 4. When they have good games, we are tough to beat.”
Jergesen had 11 kills and eight blocks, while Riske had five kills and 5 1/2 blocks to go along with three digs. Jergesen hit at an impressive 44 percent clip. She was almost automatic against the Raiders.
Carson spotted Reed a 5-2 lead in the first game, but roared back to score 16 of the next 17 points for an 18-6 lead. Riske had a kill as did Juliana Anderson (10 kills, 7 digs) and Jergesen had three kills, two coming on stuff blocks. Reed had seven errors in that span.
Reed did close to 22-12, but the Raiders made errors on all three of Carson’s final points to close out the opening game.
Maw said Riske’s floating serve seemed to give Reed plenty of problems, making it difficult for the Raiders to get a clean bump and set.
The second game featured seven ties, and again the Senators played from behind a portion of the game.
After an Emilie Braun kill (17 kills, 19 digs) gave the Raiders a 17-13 lead, Carson unleashed an 11-3 run to take a 24-20 lead.
Roberts had two of her kills in the surge, Makenzie Tucker served up three aces in a row, Riske added a stuff block and a nice kill off the slide play, and Jergesen had two quick-set kills.
“Maddie hit great tonight,” Maw said. “Forty-four percent is very impressive.”
“I feel so relaxed; feel so good,” Jergesen said. “It felt so good to hit. I’m just so happy for the team.”
After Jensen Paris scored for Reed to make it 24-21, Madison Johnson served one into the net to put Carson in the driver’s seat at 2-0.
Whether Carson relaxed too much or got too excited, Reed took it to the Senators early in the third game.
Three straight hitting errors, a service error and an ace by Illiana Orsi enabled the Raiders to grab a 7-1 lead. Carson did close to 7-3 on a Reed service error and service ace by Sarah Christl, but Reed ran off seven of the next nine points for a 14-5 lead.
Braun had two kills, and Anna King and Samantha Bailey had points in that surge.
Carson started one of its patented comebacks, tying the game at 19 on a tip by Roberts. The Raiders scored five of the next six points for a 24-20 lead, as Braun had a couple of kills. Carson fought back to 24-23 before Braun ended the game with a kill.
Carson showed its resilience in the fourth game, storming to a 5-0 lead thanks to Tucker’s serving. Reed stayed within striking distance until a 5-0 run gave Carson a 17-8 lead. Riske and Roberts had kills to spark the run.
At 21-12, kills by Natalie Anderson (11 digs, 42 assists, 2 kills), Jergesen and Juliana Anderson ended it and Reed’s post-season dreams.
“We’re a scrappy team,” Maw said. “The girls have really come together.”