Dos Pueblos and Ventura engaged in an epic toe-to-toe five-set Channel League girls volleyball thriller on Thursday night at Sovine Gym.
The teams traded leads all night and extended the normally 15-point fifth set into the 20s.
Ventura was able to score consecutive points on a Gigi Scaglia kill off a terrific set from Kate Duffy and a tough serve from Sophia Sletten to escape with a 21-19 win and stay unbeaten in league.
The match scores were 22-25, 25-22, 25-16, 19-15, 21-19.
The exhausting win gives the CIF-SS Division 5 second-ranked Cougars a 9-0 league record and a 14-2 mark overall. Dos Pueblos falls to 6-3 and 9-7.
The Chargers played a fantastic match. Middles Addie Low and Grace Posey combined for 20 kills, with Low putting away a team-high 14. Lefty Lia Papador had a solid night hitting from the right side, notching 10 kills. Sonia Mancuso picked up a team-best 22 digs to go with seven kills, libero Atasha Black had 17 digs and Jayden Jones added 14. Setter Halle Rillie recorded a double-double of 43 assists and 13 digs.
“I told them that I have no complaints about the way they played,” DP coach Megan O’Carroll said of her postgame conversation with the players. “There was no lack of want on our part. No one should be sitting there being like, ‘Oh, if we just wanted it and fought a little bit harder, we would have gotten it.’
“It came down to two points and, unfortunately, we’re on the unlucky side of those two points.
Ventura got hot down the stretch and rallied from an 11-7 deficit to take a 14-13 lead in the fifth set. Scaglia and Savannah Hill each recorded a pair of kills and libero Chloe Simpson came up with a huge play, shooting the ball into an open spot, during a 7-2 run.
Dos Pueblos knotted the score at 14 on a clutch kill from Low in the middle.
Rillie served an ace down the line to give the Chargers match point, but Ventura sided out on a kill from 6-foot-2 middle Daphne Raymond.
Low gave DP two more match-point opportunities only to see Raymond answer both times.
Duffy connected with Raymond again for an 18-17 lead, and Papador evened the score for DP with a kill off the Ventura block.
The teams traded sideouts before Duffy made a terrific set outside to Scaglia for a 20-19 lead. The senior setter went into a squat position to take a low pass with her hands and fed a spin-less ball to Scaglia for the kill.
Sletten scored the match-winning point on deep floating serve.
“Amazing,” Ventura coach Bryan Ornelas said of the intense match. “I think my girls want to give me a heart attack, to be honest. But no, they worked hard. We were down and they just kept pushing, so I’m proud of them.”
Ornelas felt the see-saw match would come down to “who is going to manage the ball, who is going to make the right plays. And that’s what it came down to, who’s going to minimize the error and put the ball in play.”
He praised Sletten for stepping up at the end.
“The one thing about Sophie is that she’s gonna keep pushing, she’s going to keep driving. And it doesn’t matter if she makes an error hitting or a passing error. She’s still thinking to herself: ‘Serve me the ball, I want the ball. Set me the ball, I want the ball. So she’s never going to quit.”
Sletten joined Scaglia and Duffy with double-doubles. Scaglia had 17 kills and 15 digs, Sletten 15 kills and 16 digs and Duffy 47 assists and 16 digs. Simpson was the team leader with 18 digs.
Ventura appeared headed to victory in the fourth set as it opened up an 11-6 lead.
But DP stormed back. Jones sided out and then served a pair of aces to tie the score at 12. Rillie and Posey followed with a combination block to give the Chargers a 13-12 lead.
Ventura tied the score at 14 before the Chargers went on a 3-0 run to take the lead for good. They finished the set with another three-point run: a kill from Posey, a hitting error by the Cougars and an ace in the deep corner from Black.
“We do a player of the game — it’s called the Hot Tamale — and it was hard to pick one person tonight because every single person had some sort of contribution to the team, whether they were on the court or off the court,” said O’Carroll. “I thought our bench was incredible, they were loud, they were cheering, they’re being supportive, providing the kind of sparks when maybe things weren’t going as well on the court. So every single person helped us get to where we were.”
Both teams don’t have much time to rest before they return to the court. Dos Pueblos boards an early bus and heads to Clovis to play in the two-day Hard Driven Challenge. Ventura, meanwhile, returns to Santa Barbara to play an 11 a.m. first-round match in the Tournament of Champions.