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Moapa Valley downs Faith Lutheran for 3A Southern League title

Home-court advantage never hurts.

Especially with a raucous crowd on your side.

Moapa Valley used a strong defense and plenty of fan support Friday as it captured the Class 3A Southern League girls volleyball tournament, defeating Faith Lutheran in the title match, 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20.

“It was hard to breathe in there,” Moapa Valley coach Matt Messer said. “Our crowd was great tonight, and it helped us stay aggressive.”

After splitting their regular-season matchups, both sides eagerly anticipated a rematch for the right to represent the Southern League at next week’s state tournament.

Brianne Olige led Moapa Valley in kills with 18. Shelby Thompson added 11 kills, Cydney Solomon 41 assists and Jessica Waite 10 digs for the Pirates.

“They are a great defensive team,” Faith Lutheran coach Amy Fisher said. “That is the heart and soul of their attack.”

Faith Lutheran led Moapa Valley 10-4 in the first game, but the Pirates slowly churned back and tied the score at 22 on an Olige block. Moapa Valley finished Game 1 with a Faith Lutheran error.

In Game 2, the Pirates took an early 6-2 lead on a Britney Hughes kill. The Crusaders came back to take the lead at 10-9 off a Katy Trollier kill.

Megan Stringham’s ace re-established Moapa Valley’s control and a 13-12 lead. Faith tied the score again at 21, but Olige’s kill gave Moapa Valley a 25-21 win.

Moapa Valley took a 4-0 lead in Game 3 before Faith Lutheran went on a 12-1 run, led by Hayley Washinsky’s serving. The Cruasders took control for the rest of the game off of Washinsky’s serving prowess.

Jessica Waite helped cut the Pirates’ deficit, but a Moapa Valley hitting error gave the Crusaders a 25-17 victory.

In Game 4, Olige again gave Moapa Valley control as the Pirates took a 17-15 lead off of an Olige kill. The Pirates then went on a 7-2 run to bring the match to match point.

The Crusaders got the score to 24-20, but Britney Hughes’ slide kill ended the Crusaders’ season and gave Moapa Valley the win.
“I though we were aggressive and played to win in that fourth game,” Messer said.

As far as the championship’s meaning to the program, Messer, who has won five state championships as Moapa Valley’s coach, believes it is a building block.

“We’re going to build upon it,” Messer said. “Our program needed this win. With only one seed going from the South to state, you have got to play to win, and we did that tonight.”

Moapa Valley beat Boulder City 25-13, 25-13, 25-19 in the semifinal to advance to the final.

Faith Lutheran advanced to the final as a 25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 28-26 winner over Virgin Valley.

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