The situation was all too familiar for the Santa Barbara High girls volleyball team on Thursday night against a crosstown rival.
Just like they were a week ago against San Marcos, the Dons went up 2-0 in sets against Dos Pueblos at J.R. Richards Gym.
This time, though, they made sure the match wouldn’t be extended to a fifth set.
Santa Barbara took care of business in the third set as Stella Borgioli went on a 6-0 serving run to break the set open and allow the Dons to complete the sweep, 25-23, 25-23, 25-16.
“We were remembering the last time we were up 2-0 and what happened then,” said Santa Barbara coach Kristin Hempy. “I talked to (the players) about that: ‘We don’t want a repeat, we can’t let up.’ I feel like against SM in our third set we let up a little and then things changed. We made sure we came out strong and we were focusing a lot on our serve receive, which improved from the first and second sets, so that was beneficial. And then just running the middles. I thought our middles did really well, Nicole (Schuetz) and Lola (Heckman).”
Schuetz led Santa Barbara with 13 kills and three blocks, and served two aces. The freshman Heckman had four kills.
On the outside, Emmy Werner had seven kills and Serena Byrd, Keenan Engebretson and Gwen Chenoweth each collected four. Lexi Horton led in digs with 11.
“I was really proud of the girls,” said Hempy. “We’re missing two of our hitters who have contributed a lot, so you’re always curious how it’s going to go. But they stepped up, everybody who was here.”
Santa Barbara (5-0 in league) was pushed in the first two sets. In both, it took some clutch plays down the stretch to pull out the wins.
“They battled for everything. They’ve always had really good spirit and really good energy, and they’re not going to go away, they’re not going to give up,” said Hempy of the Chargers (3-2 in league, 6-7 overall). “They’re going to fight, they’re going to battle, and sometimes that moment shift is really to their advantage.
“They have a really strong setter, so we were focusing on making sure to not let her take the game away.”
Setter Halle Rillie dished out 18 assists for the Chargers. Middle Addie Low and outside Jayden Jones led the team in kills with six apiece, while Sophia Mancuso added four.
The defense of libero Atasha Black played a huge part in keeping rallies alive. She finished with 15 digs.
“We’re so scrappy, we get so much stuff up,” said DP coach Megan O’Carroll. “I want to give a shout out to Atasha. She was digging everything and chasing everything down.
“I thought are blocking looked great tonight, which was something we’ve been working on. There weren’t a lot of stuff blocks but we were getting a lot of touches, which allowed our defense to chase them down.”
O’Carroll said it was disappointing to come so close to beating Santa Barbara.
“Being mad would be like we didn’t play well. I’m disappointed in the sense we had them and we worked so hard to stay on par with them the entire first two sets. We did all that hard work but wasn’t able to really finish it at the end. And that’s disappointing.
“I want them to believe in themselves 100% of the set and right now we’re at 95% of the set. And that last little bit is a where we start to slip.”
She’s looking forward to the rematch at DP in a couple of weeks.
“I feel super proud of the way that they played and had the realization that we can beat them,” said O’Carroll of her players. “It would have felt really good to take care of it tonight. But, as I said to them at the end, I’m really excited to host them in a couple of week. We going to go into that match with even more confidence and hopefully take care of it on our own turf.”