DENHAM SPRINGS – Not even a furious rally in the final set was enough for Denham Springs to hold off Central for the second time this season.
The Lady Wildcats completed a sweep Tuesday over the Lady Jackets in District 3-I action 25-18, 25-20 and 25-13 at Grady Hornsby Gym.
Down 22-15 in the second set Denham Springs called a timeout and circled the wagons. They scored five of the next six points, putting the Lady Wildcats on their heels.
However, when Central eventually did close out the set because of errors from DSHS at the end of long rallies, both coaches agreed that it was a blow to the Lady Jackets’ confidence and allowed the Lady Wildcats to cruise to victory.
Central (14-10, 4-2 in district) also defeated DSHS (10-16, 0-5) in three sets on Sept. 26.
“I think experience mattered,” Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy said. “Definitely mental toughness. Physically, anybody can run stadiums and suicides and do box jumps and all that to work on the physicality of it. But I think the mental toughness is what (Central) has that makes a difference.”
The rally-killing play was something Central coach Michele LeBouef said her team had been searching for recently.
“If you can win a long rally, it pumps you up and it takes the wind out their sails,” LeBouef said.
“If you can win multiple long rallies, then you’re probably going to have more things end in your favor,” she said. “Our focus for the past three or four weeks has been to win those long rallies. We want to make sure that we’re taking care of that long ball, that emotion killer. We want to make sure we’re looking on the positive side of things.”
Caroline Nunnery led Central with 14 kills, while freshman Jaida Alvin had seven. Mary and Abby Fralick both recorded five kills apiece. Abby had three aces and Mary had one.
For DSHS, Mandolyn Donohue headed the Yellow Jackets’ charge with five kills and an ace and Sophie Faircloth had three kills and an ace.
DSHS made sure to remain at arm’s length for the majority of the first set, not letting Central venture too far ahead. However, the Lady Jackets couldn’t build any momentum, only scoring back-to-back points three times.
Central broke a 5-5 deadlock in the second set, scoring four straight points, two of which came via kills from Abby Fralick. After DSHS scored three straight, Central answered with a 9-3 run to take a 18-11 advantage.
From there the Lady Jackets forced themselves back into the game, scoring seven of the next 11 points supplemented by a pair of kills from Donohue and an ace from Faircloth.
After DSHS’ eventual comeback fell short, Central raced out to an 11-5 lead in the third set and never looked back, completing the sweep with a 25-13 victory.
DSHS went with more of a defensive-minded lineup in the final set, one that particularly excelled at blocking at the net, but Central was still able to take advantage by hitting the spots vacated behind the front line.
“It’s hard to walk into a gym like Denham’s with a crowd like we had in here,” LeBouef said. “I think it’s a great win for us and it’s a great rivalry to continue.”