LONGHORN INVITE: Bengals suffer close loss in tourney final

Bonanza girls volleyball coach Dan Savage has seen firsthand what it’s like when California schools have come to play in volleyball tournaments in Southern Nevada in the last four years.

“Typically, California teams come in and roll over Vegas teams,” he said.

Savage made sure his Bengals weren’t a rollover team Saturday afternoon.

Bonanza gave Bishop Alemany (Calif.) all it could handle before losing 27-26, 25-22 in the championship match of the third annual Longhorn Invitational at Legacy.

Bonanza (24-9), the tournament’s defending champion, placed second in the 16-team event. Savage said he hopes the momentum built over his team’s 5-1 weekend continues in the last two regular-season games and beyond.

“That’s what you want. You want to play teams that are as good, or better, than we’ll see in our playoffs,” Savage said. “That team is as good as any team in Vegas. But they had to fight for it. It’s a great way to end a tournament without winning.”

Bonanza, the ninth-ranked team in the Southern Nevada coaches poll, went 3-0 in pool play and didn’t drop a set on Friday to move into the championship bracket.

The Bengals downed Durango and Legacy, each in three sets, to make it to the finals.

“We knew today would be the day we had some tough matches,” Savage said. “But we wanted to stay focused yesterday. … To come out as the top Vegas team in the tournament is a nice accomplishment. It was a good weekend. We beat Legacy in the semifinals, which is big for us playoff-wise. It’s always tough to beat a team three times in a season, and they had beaten us the two previous (matches).”

Setter Hayley Huntsman served five consecutive points and had two aces to start the match against Alemany. The Bengals looked like they might run away with it after taking a 19-11 lead, but the Warriors answered with a 6-0 run.

Alemany tied the first set at 24 before the teams traded the next four points. With a 27-point cap on sets in the tournament, the Warriors cashed in on set point.

“Our serve receive broke down a little bit,” Savage said. “That kind of turned the tide, and we gave them momentum. We’re a big believer in momentum and attitude, and to lose it and give it back to the other team just hurt us. They made some awesome plays.”

Alemany grabbed an 8-2 lead in the second set before Bonanza closed to with in 20-18.

A disputed call by the line judge gave Alemany a 24-20 lead, and Bonanza couldn’t overcome the deficit.

Huntsman finished with five kills, 10 assists and 13 digs, and Jaycie Johnson added four blocks for the Bengals, who also got four kills from Taryn Warner.

Huntsman, a senior, led the all-tournament team for the third consecutive year and was joined by Johnson, Alemany’s Lauren Panganiban and Sarah Doyle, Legacy’s Kiana Carter and Mia Suzuki, and Liberty’s Tiffany Watkins.

Alemany’s Annah Rivera was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at or 702-383-0430. Follow him on Twitter: @af_ferguson.

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