When Shadow Ridge’s Kelsey Tesoro stuffed Hayley Spelman near the end of the first game, it gave the visiting Mustangs some much-needed momentum in their Class 4A Sunset Region quarterfinal match.
It also woke up Durango’s 6-foot-6-inch standout opposite hitter.
“It took that block for me to say, 'OK, let’s go,’” Spelman said. “When she blocked me, I knew, 'Hey, that shouldn’t happen. Let’s step it up.’ I knew it was my fault.”
With a charged-up Spelman leading the way, the Trailblazers went on to a relatively easy 25-19, 25-18, 25-14 win over Shadow Ridge to advance to the regional semifinals. Durango (23-11), the No. 2 seed from the Southwest League, will play at Northwest No. 1 Centennial (27-2) at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
“They played collectively very well against a very good Shadow Ridge team,” Trailblazers coach Kelly O’Quinn said. “It was a really good team effort. Usually it’s the Hayley Spelman show.”
Spelman did do most of the damage for Durango, as the Stanford recruit finished with 34 kills. Setter Morgan Malone had 32 assists.
Shadow Ridge (17-8) was led by Kylee Schraft’s 10 kills, and Tesoro added six kills and 10 digs. Setter Brittany Meyer totaled 22 assists.
“We didn’t play our best, and we would’ve needed to play our best to beat them,” Mustangs coach Karissa Guthrie said. “Normally, we’re a very good defensive team, and for one of the first times this season, that broke down.”
Tesoro’s big block on Spelman cut Durango’s lead to 23-14, and the Mustangs went on to score five of the next six points before Durango closed out the first game on a kill from Spelman. However, the boost from Tesoro’s play carried over into the second game as Shadow Ridge jumped out to a 9-5 advantage.
“Absolutely I think there were a couple times when we did have some momentum,” Guthrie said. “In this game, it’s really easy to switch momentum, and if you don’t take advantage when you have the momentum, it’s going to be tough. It’s good to get the momentum, but it’s even tougher to keep it.”
Shadow Ridge found that out as Spelman brought the Trailblazers back. Two Spelman kills sandwiched around one from Williams put Durango on top 15-13, and Durango never let up from there. The Trailblazers went up 21-17 on a back-row tip from Spelman, and she closed out the game with a big kill out of the back row off a free ball.
The Mustangs hung tough early in the third game, taking a 6-4 lead on a kill from Schraft, only to see Durango grab control by scoring eight of the next nine points for a 12-7 lead. After a kill from Schraft made it 12-8, Durango went on a 6-1 spurt that featured a double block by Megan Tullis and Malone, along with an ace from Malone.
The Trailblazers went up 22-11 on an ace by Rowsell before Spelman fittingly closed out the match with another kill out of the back row.
“We played better than we’ve ever played,” Spelman said. “The team came together and played as one. Whenever we got down a point, everyone got together and everyone stepped it up. It was great.”
Centennial 3, Sierra Vista 0 — At Centennial, Morgan Vieira had 13 assists, six digs, two blocks and two kills to help Centennial breeze to a 25-15, 25-17, 25-13 win over the Lions.
Johnna Brown added 15 kills and nine digs for the Northwest League champion Bulldogs.
Hillary O’Shaughnessy had seven blocks, four aces, three kills and three digs for Centennial, and Tiffany Chapman added eight digs.
Palo Verde 3, Pahrump Valley 1 — At Palo Verde, Nicole Gneiting’s 20 kills, seven digs and four blocks helped the Panthers to a 25-22, 25-12, 23-25, 25-15 win over the Trojans.
Tori Lounsberry had 27 assists and six digs for Palo Verde.
Tianna Gadbaw added 13 digs and five blocks, and Ainsley Lovejoy had seven kills, seven digs and five blocks for the Panthers
Palo Verde will face Southwest League champion Bishop Gorman in a regional semifinal Thursday at 6 p.m. at Centennial.
Kristi Daffer led Pahrump Valley with 15 kills and seven blocks.
Arlette Scott had 13 assists for the Trojans, and Vanessa Veloz had 14 digs.
Bishop Gorman 3, Legacy 0 — At Gorman, Liz Manthei had 15 assists, six kills and four aces as the Gaels routed the Longhorns, 25-8, 25-8, 25-9.
Kylie Shaw had nine kills for Gorman, and Liz Lisowski added nine digs and three aces.
Dannielle Diamant had five kills and six blocks for the Gaels, and Brooke McKenna served five aces.