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Sutter volleyball edges Wheatland in tight contest
Huskies win 73rd straight BVL match
Ann Reynolds was coaching volleyball at Sutter High before any of her current players were even born.
After 12 seasons at the JV level, Reynolds took over the varsity program in 1995, and nearly two decades later, is one of the top coaches in the North State.
That doesn't mean the six-time A-D All-Area Coach of the Year still doesn't get butterflies during matches.
Reynolds said matches like Thursday's Butte View League showdown with Wheatland are starting to give her gray hairs. Yet, for the 73rd consecutive time in BVL play, her Huskies came through in the clutch.
Sutter stayed perfect in the BVL with a hard-fought 3-1 victory as the Huskies won by game scores of 25-17, 32-30, 14-25 and 30-28.
After being knocked out by Wheatland in the second round of the Northern Section Division IV playoffs in 2011, Reynolds said she knew the Pirates would be one of her team's biggest tests up to this point in the season.
"Last year's games (with Wheatland) all went down to the wire so I knew they were confident and looking good," Reynolds said. "I don't know if I have ever been involved in a match that went that deep into the score."
After the Huskies (16-7, 3-0) jumped out to a 25-17 victory in game one, they traded blows with the Pirates in game two, which went to the wire.
With the score tied 30-30, Wheatland (19-5, 2-1) committed a couple of costly errors as Sutter took the game. The Pirates responded with a resounding 25-14 win in game three.
Game four was tied 23-23 when the biggest moment of the match occurred. Wheatland's senior leader, and one of the team's top offensive weapons, Kirstin Johnson fell awkwardly on her ankle and left the match.
The Pirates put up a valiant effort, but the Huskies eventually sealed the match with a 30-28 victory.
"To be able to come out on top and keep on fighting, I'm so proud of my girls for doing that," Reynolds said. "It's a battle back-and-forth. Both teams should be congratulated for the caliber of volleyball played."
Sutter is seeking its 16th straight BVL title this season. The Huskies haven't had a sub-.500 record in league play since 1996.
The Huskies have a good mix of talent this season led by the outside-hitter tandem of senior Bianca Almeida and junior Ava Payton.
Payton had a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs, while Almeida put up a match-high 17 kills.
Senior Erika Larsen was huge in the middle with six blocks, while Shelby Hill added four more. Larsen also picked up eight kills.
Savannah Besso was excellent at setter with 29 assists and libero Alix Russell picked up a match-high 15 digs.
"These girls have had to learn to work together as a unit," Reynolds said. "Some other groups I've had in the past worked together for about five or six years. They've really had to work hard at blending and becoming a team. They're doing a great job."
Johnson and Kiley DeCoster both amassed 15 kills for Wheatland, while junior Kassidy Heuvelhorst added 10 more. Senior setter Jamie Adams had 38 assists and libero Mikayla McLanahan totaled 12 digs.
The Pirates will get another shot at Sutter on Oct. 30.
"They'll feed off of this loss," said Wheatland coach Ashley Anderson. "This team has an awesome attitude. They played well and they know that."
Sutter's JV team won 25-10, 25-21 to improve to 3-0 in the BVL.
Taylor Cooper had seven kills, Sara Stephenson added six kills and Chloe Heape tallied 18 assists to lead the Huskies.