Santa Barbara High girls volleyball coach Ariana Garner calls the early part of the season the “grind.”

“We are going to continue to grind and develop our style of play,” said Garner after her Dons dropped a four-set non-league match at Ventura on Thursday, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-17.

 “We are a very scrappy defense team, we just need to learn how to score more on our serve and continue rallies,” she added

The Dons (0-2) came out with lots of energy and confidence and frustrated Ventura with strong defense and a solid passing.

“Our serve receive was close to perfect,” said Garner.

“We let our foot off the gas in the second set. We became complacent and couldn’t find a sense of urgency. In the third set, we came back from down 3 and couldn’t finish. In the 4th set we battled, keeping the score close but ultimately ended the match with five hitting errors in a row.”

Sophomore outside Emma Zuffaleto led the Dons attack with 10 kills and three service aces. Senior Reese Kelly added nine kills, three aces and 15 digs and junior transfer India Cunningham recorded seven kills at the opposite spot.

“Moving forward, we are going to continue to develop our setter-hitter connection,” Garner said. “We need to get our middles more involved to take some pressure off our pin hitters. The team remained in good spirited throughout the match. It was a tough loss for sure, definitely one we could have stole.”

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.