The Tonopah volleyball team looked smooth and in control in its 25-23, 25-15 and 25-18 sweep of Smith Valley in the Division IV state semifinals Friday at Damonte Ranch.
The Muckers players, though, think they can play better.
They'll get the chance to prove it today in the Division IV state championship against Pahranagat Valley. Those teams will play for the title at 10 a.m. at Galena.
"Confidence-wise, yes, we were great; playing-wise, no," Tonopah coach Judi Boni said. "Our passing was off, and we were missing serves. We were tough mentally, but we'll have to play better and start clicking more to win (today)."
After a back-and-forth first game that looked like either team might make a sprint to win, the Muckers dominated the second game to take the wind out of the Bulldogs' sails. Tonopah used a decisive 7-0 run in the second game to turn a 7-7 tie into a 14-7 lead and put the pressure on a deflated Smith Valley team. The Muckers later led by as much as 21-11 before settling for the eventual 25-15 margin.
"After that first game, I think we maybe lost a little momentum," Smith Valley first-year coach Ally Sceirine said. "Overall, I thought the girls played really well. It's really hard to see it end; it was a great season."
Southern League champion Tonopah (24-5 overall) steadily pulled away in the third game, turning an early 5-5 tie into an 18-10 advantage. The Muckers' Deanna VanPoucke ended the match minutes later with a decisive spike.
VanPoucke led Tonopah with eight kills and 11 digs. Elise Salsbury had 13 assists, and Alli Friel had a solid all-around game with 10 assists, six digs, five kills and a pair of blocks.
For North region runner-up Smith Valley (14-4), Sierra Hunewill had four kills. Katie Ladd added three kills, three digs and four service aces.
PAHRANAGAT VALLEY d. VIRGINIA CITY at Damonte Ranch: The Panthers withstood a Virginia City rally to win in four games -- 25-14, 25-23, 21-25 and 25-18 -- and set up an all-Southern League state-title match.
After dominating the first game and holding on for a narrow win in the second for a 2-0 lead, Pahranagat Valley nearly closed out a sweep before the Muckers put together their best rally of the afternoon.
Virginia City scored the final four points of the game for a 25-21 win and some much-needed momentum heading into the fourth game.
That set was tied at 12, 15 and 16 before the Southern League runner-up Panthers took over.
Pahranagat scored eight straight points to take a commanding 24-16 lead.
Moments later, the Panthers ended the Muckers' season and set up a rematch with Southern League rival Tonopah.