On a night of big service runs and scramble plays, the Dos Pueblos girls volleyball team came through in clutch situations and knocked off Santa Barbara High in an exciting five-set match Tuesday night at Sovine Gym.
The Chargers’ 25-12, 15-25, 19-25, 25-19, 16-14 win moved them into a second-place tie with the Dons in the Channel League standings at 8-4. Each team has two league matches to play.
Down 2-1 in sets, Dos Pueblos appeared headed for a four-set loss. Santa Barbara started with a strong serving run from setter Gwen Chenoweth and took a 6-0 advantage.
But Halle Rillie got DP back the set with a four-point service run.
From that point, it was a roller-coaster ride of momentum changes. Back-to-back kills from Serena Byrd gave the Dons a 13-9 lead, but the Chargers responded behind the serving of Rillie. An overpass of a serve resulted in a kill from freshman middle Grace Posey to make it 13-12. Sonia Mancuso blocked another overpass to tie score.
Posey finished a Rillie set in the middle to put DP back in front, 14-13.
The Dons sided out and got into a good rotation with Nicole Schuetz in the middle front and libero Tessa de Albergaria serving. A Schuetz bomb followed by a pair of aces from de Albergaria gave them the lead again, 17-14.
DP libero Atasha Black then took charge at the service line. She served three aces during a 7-0 run, sparking the Chargers to victory and forcing a deciding fifth set, their fourth in their last five league matches.
“I feel like by the fourth set we’re getting this set and by the fifth set our energy is so high that we don’t stop,” said Black of the comeback. “It’s amazing. I love this team.”
Santa Barbara coach Kristen Hempy was disappointed the Dons couldn’t finish off the match. The Dons swept DP in their first league meeting.
“I was telling the girls we really should have closed it out in four,” she said. “I think we were capable of doing it. We have just struggled to keep the consistency sometimes in those critical end-of-match, end-of-set points, when it counts the most.”
Jayden Jones got hot from the service line and rallied DP from a 5-7 deficit to a 10-7 lead in the fifth set. She had two aces in the run.
Santa Barbara roared back and reclaimed the lead. On a scramble at 10-9, the Dons were out of sync on a play to the middle, but Byrd, backing up the play, alertly bumped the ball into open court for they tying point.
It was that crazy of a match.
Black served another ace (she had five to go with 20 digs) for a 12-11 lead.
“We are a better serve-receive team than we showed, especially in the fourth and fifth sets,” said Hempy. “We pass better than that.”
The teams continued to scramble for points. Addie Low scored on a tip to put the Chargers at match point, 14-12. The Dons went back to Schuetz, who was crushing the ball all night and finished with 19 kills. She changed things up and scored on two tips to tie the score at 14.
An untimely Santa Barbara service error gave the lead back to DP, 15-14.
“Once we have that momentum, we can’t let it drop. And, unfortunately, we just let it drop a little bit and a little too much at the wrong times,” said Hempy.
Fittingly, the match-winning point was decided on a scramble play. Low blocked a tight Santa Barbara set and a Dons player went to the floor and crossed the center line for a violation.
Black felt DP’s ability to score points on scrambles was a big difference in the match.
“Our defense was so good today, our blocking was so good, everything was so good,” she said.
“We got 13 girls on our team that have bought in to our team culture and when that happens there’s this standard of expectation,” said DP coach Megan O’Carroll of her team’s willingness to throw their bodies on the floor to get balls up. “When you’re on the court, you’re playing your hardest. We don’t let balls drop, that’s another non-negotiable in our program.”
She raved about the unflappable play of Rillie, who had 26 assists, 11 digs, five kills and three aces.
“She’s so steady,” said O’Carroll of her junior setter. “Without her, the actual foundation of our team would be very shaky. She keeps things really calm, she’s able to chase balls down and is really better the next play.
“She makes excellent plays, she’s super smart and she’s super supportive of her teammates.”
Low led the Chargers in kills with 13 and in blocks with six; Jones had 10 kills and eight digs and Lia Parador added five kills and seven digs.
Santa Barbara got 11 kills from Byrd, eight kills, 17 digs and an ace from Emmy Werner and 14 digs and three aces from de Albergaria. Setters Chenoweth and Stella Borgioli combined for 42 kills, and Chenoweth had a team-best six aces.