ELKO — For the Elko volleyball team, its weekend matches were sweep affairs — one good, one bad.
The Lady Indians found themselves on the high side of a sweep Friday night against winless Sparks — not without a few relatively-close frames — Elko coming up short Saturday, playing Fernley closely in the first-two sets before being swept by a lopsided margin in the third.
Against the Lady Railroaders, the Lady Indians broke from the gates quickly and with conviction — blowing out Sparks by 20 points in a 25-5 first set.
As Elko inserted bench and role players, the games got interesting.
Sparks only lost the second frame by five points in a 25-20 game, Elko increasing its play for a 25-16 win in the third set for a sweep victory.
On Saturday, the Lady Indians ran into a different level of a squad versus Fernley.
Elko found a poor start in the first set, falling behind 7-1 — stemming both from solid play by the Lady Vaqueros and unforced errors from the Lady Indians.
Along with knocking shots long and out of bounds, Elko gave up three aces — one from senior Jaiden Sullivan and a pair by senior Katelyn Bunyard.
Senior Natalie Stewart scored on a free ball, and sophomore Willow Jacobson capped the run with a hammer on the back line.
The Lady Indians answered the streak with a comeback of their own — taking five of the next-six points — starting with a shot to a hole in the middle of the floor by senior Tara Welch.
Fernley shanked its reception on the next play but gained a point back on a drop shot by senior Colby Johnson.
Elko cut the deficit to four with a swat and kill at the net by senior Cassie Spence, pulling to within three on a shot from Spence that clipped the net and dropped down — Fernley hitting Elko’s next point into the net.
Following a timeout, the Lady Vaqueros won a long rally with another touch shot.
Junior Hannah McIntosh smacked a shot off Fernley’s block for a putaway, but the Lady Indians gave the ball back with a net serve.
With a kill from Sullivan, the Lady Vaqueros went up four at 11-7.
Spence and McIntosh cut the deficit to two with consecutive putaways, once again slicing the margin and taking the lead.
Senior Madison Ballard ripped a shot that tagged the end line, a Fernley shot sailing long and tying the contest at 12-all.
Junior Sarah Gorman crossed a kill for a 13-12 lead, and junior Amelia Moye opened a two-point advantage with an ace.
Following an Elko shot that landed out, Fernley gained another point when a ball hit the antenna.
The Lady Indians regained the lead with a shot down the line by Gorman, but an OB and a bad receive put Fernley up 16-15.
Gorman tied the contest with a kill through a block attempt, but Fernley took a two-point lead with an Elko shot and another tip from Johnson after a long rally.
Spence and Ballard went for consecutive kills, but the Lady Vaqueros took another point after an extremely-long rally — giving the ball back with a net serve.
Fernley essentially won the set with a shot into an open space from senior Celeste Condie and back-to-back double touches from bad passes in the back row of Elko’s defense, Elko taking a timeout with the score at 22-19.
The lead reached 23-19 with a pass off the roof of Centennial Gymnasium, but Elko came back and tied the game with four-straight points — Welch adding two kills and Fernley making a line violation, McIntosh serving an ace.
However, another touch shot placed Fernley at game-point — the Lady Indians falling with 25-23 with a net ball.
Elko started the second set with an ace from junior Mariah Johnson, and took a 3-1 lead with a Fernley shot that landed outside the line.
The Lady Vaqueros quickly tore off five points in a row, hitting two shots off Elko’s block — Bunyard making a kill that struck the net and trickled and over and senior Reese Jones swatting a shot.
Fernley’s block became a factor, another stuff opening a 6-3 lead.
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For the first time, Elko won an extended rally — Ballard crushing a putaway.
However, the Lady Indians took a timeout after a net serve and another tip from Johnson.
Before shanking a serve, the lead reached 9-4 with another block from Stewart.
Johnson dropped another shot in a hole, Gorman crossing a ball across the court for Elko.
Sullivan won a point for Fernley with a running backhand punch, junior Aschlynn Roemer adding another emphatic swat at the net.
Elko cut the lead to three with a solid kill from Spence and a stuff from Ballard — Fernley called for a lift — Ballard winning the next point with a putaway.
Every time Elko challenged, Fernley answered — opening an eight-point lead with a five-point run — Sullivan starting the streak with a kill.
Condie blocked another Elko shot, Stewart made a great play and a forced a hit out of bounds, senior Tali Bertinuson served an ace and Condie capped the run with a touch shot.
The Lady Vaqueros seemed a step ahead, Elko on its heels and guessing.
Fernley’s advantage went to double at 18-9 from a bad pass, but Ballard hammered a shot and stemmed the tide.
Jacobson answered with a statement putaway of her own for a 19-10 lead.
Elko scored the next three on a net ball, a long shot and a tip from Gorman.
A net ball gave Fernley a 20-13 lead.
The deficit was trimmed to five with a thump from Ballard and a drill by Spence, but Fernley went through Elko’s block for the next point.
A lift by Fernley and a kill by Spence cut the margin to four, but the momentum was snapped with a net serve.
The Lady Indians forced a timeout with a three-point run from a cross by Gorman, a tip from Spence and a shot outside the line.
After the reset, Fernley placed Elko against game-point with a block for a kill from Sullivan and a putaway by Jacobson.
Elko was called for a lift, falling in the second set by a score of 25-20.
In reverse fashion, the Lady Indians actually opened the third frame fairly well — not falling behind and having to come back from a wide deficit.
The score was 3-3 following a block by McIntosh and a kill off the tape by Gorman.
Fernley took a 6-3 lead on a tip by Johnson, but Elko won the next two on a solid kill from sophomore EmmaJay Larsen and an ace by Spence.
The back-and-forth flow swept in Fernley’s favor with three straight points before hitting a serve into the net.
With another three-point run, the Lady Vaqueros grabbed a 14-8 lead with a kill by Jacobson — senior McKenzie Natenstedt earning a point as the Lady Indians got caught ball watching and Elko hitting a shot into the net.
Something triggered Welch, who noticeably hit the ball harder — consecutive anger shots pulling Elko to within three.
The comeback was stopped with a net serve and a bad pass, Elko’s next bad pass luckily scoring a point.
Welch continued her hot stretch with a hard rip, and Spence’s kill pulled the Lady Indians to within two at 16-14.
Fernley went up 17-14 on a shot in the middle of the floor by Jacobson, the Lady Indians unraveling down the stretch — the Lady Vaqueros closing the match by winning nine of the final 10 points.
Roemer served an ace, Elko was called for multiple violations, the Lady Indians watched multiple touch shots in the front end of the defense and a kill through the block set up match-point.
Gorman momentarily staved off elimination with a block of her own, but Elko was called for a violation after being handed a free ball — Fernley sweeping the Lady Indians by a final score of 25-15.
Elko (4-3 in league) will close out the first half of the Division 3A North season on the road, playing at 6 p.m. Friday at Lowry (1-5 in league) and noon Saturday at Fallon (3-3 in league).