Stella Borgioli feeds Nicole Schuetz in the middle for a spike during Santa Barbara High’s four-set win over Oxnard. (Lily Chubb photo)

Stella Borgioli went on an 11-point serving run to win the third set, and Santa Barbara High made some clutch plays down the stretch in the fourth to pull out a Channel League girls volleyball win over a tough Oxnard squad on Tuesday night at J.R. Richards Gym.

The Dons’ 25-21, 17-25, 25-13, 25-23 victory kept them tied for first place with San Marcos in the league standings at 7-1. The crosstown rivals play for sole possession of first on Thursday night at San Marcos.

Oxnard fell to 5-3 in the Channel League.

Borgioli gave Santa Barbara a huge boost from the service line in the critical third set. After Shae Delany ripped a kill for a sideout and a 14-13 lead, Borgioli got on a roll with her serve. The first one resulted in a solo block by middle Nicole Scheutz, and Oxnard committed a hitting error on the next one.

Over the next five serves, she reeled off three aces and forced an overpass that Gracie Meinzer put away for a 21-13 lead. 

With Borgioli still serving, libero Tessa de Albergaria made a nice pick-up of a blocked ball and Meinzer finished the play for the 24th point. Delany then capped off the run a kill.

“I think it really helps when the team brings energy after a good serve and it helps me keep going,” Borgioli said of her run.

“That was a huge momentum changer for sure,” Santa Barbara coach Kristin Hempy said of Borgioli’s serving. “She comes in and she is so steady, so consistent. She’s a great server; she usually doesn’t always have 11 in a row, but she was on a roll.

“I think we caught them off guard and we were able to capitalize on that, which is really great. We talked a lot about finishing it out this time around, so I’m happy they were able to do it.”

Emmy Werner blocks Oxnard’s Anika Huelskamp as Gracie Meinzer of the Dons defends behind the block.

Emmy Werner blocks Oxnard’s Anika Huelskamp as Gracie Meinzer of the Dons defends behind the block. (Lily Chubb photo)

Oxnard, which rallied to beat the Dons in five sets in the first round of league play, regrouped from the third-set loss and  batted down to the wire in the fourth set. Anika Huelskamp was a hammer on the outside and Kayla Lumus had the Santa Barbara defense scrambling with her tips.

“Oxnard did a great job mixing up their hits, their offense; they were tipping a lot, trying to catch us off guard. Swinging, they have some great arms as well,” said Hempy. “We had to adjust a little bit to get behind (their hits).”

The Dons went on a three-point run in the fourth set to go up 14-8. But Oxnard fought back and tied the score at 21. The teams traded side outs before a Meinzer block gave Santa Barbara the lead for good. 

The Dons scored the match-winning point on Yellowjackets’ hitting error.

“I’m glad that we stayed consistent throughout the second half (of the match). I think that’s why we were able to pull it out,” said Borgioli.

In addition to her great serving, Borgioli handed out 16 assists and had three digs. Meinzer had 22 assists, eight kills, four digs and an ace.

Delany led a balanced attack with 11 kills, four blocks and four aces. Schuetz had seven kills and five blocks, Emmy Werner, Serena Byrd and Augustine Wooten each collected five kills. Albergaria had seven digs and three aces.

Schuetz came up big at the end of the first set, siding out on a tip, a solo block and another tip to finish the set.

Oxnard stepped the pressure in the second set and went on a 5-0 run to break a 10-10 tie. The play of 6-foot-3 Laney Ramirez in the middle sparked the Yellowjackets.

Two kills from 6-2 outside hitter Jade Alexander ignited a 4-0 run to finish the set and even the match at 1-1.

Hempy said the conversation before the third set was about playing better defense.

“We talked about defense, making sure we’re staying on defense, setter is not releasing, we’re really on our X, we’re on our mark. We tuned that up a little bit and I think we were better at digging and defending in the third set.”

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