DUTCHTOWN – Nearly three weeks ago when Denham Springs hosted Dutchtown, the Lady Jackets showed signs of hanging around a while, taking the third set from the Lady Griffins in a 3-1 defeat.
Denham Springs had similar intentions, this time opening Monday’s District 4-I match by pushing Dutchtown, the state’s No. 2 team in the LHSAA’s power ratings, throughout the first set.
Then the Lady Griffins wrapped up that set, rattling off the last five points for a 25-17 win, before taking control of the second and third sets (25-13, 25-12) to complete a 3-0 victory at Dutchtown High over the Lady Jackets.
“I think our biggest issue was finishing,” Denham Springs setter Shelby Prest said. “It’s always been our issue. We play so hard throughout the entire game and get to a certain point where we think, ‘oh we made it this far, let’s slow down’. We really need to work on finishing.”
Denham Springs (17-19 overall, 2-4) concludes its regular season at 6 p.m. Wednesday, hosting St. Amant before the start of next week’s state playoffs where the No. 28 Lady Jackets are expected to qualify with the brackets being expanded to 32 teams.
“What happens is the other team gets a good play and all these girls (Dutchtown) are good hitters, they get that good hit and we get down,” said Prest, who led Denham Springs with six assists and had four kills. “It’s a momentum thing. It’s momentum killer and then we can’t come back from that. “
Denham Springs never led in the match but came tantalizingly close to doing so in the first set, twice trailing Dutchtown (31-6, 6-1) by one point.
The Lady Jackets rallied from deficits of 9-5 and 11-7 to close within 14-13 with Kailey Dunham serving when the Lady Griffins pushed a return wide.
DSHS’ Destiny Nassri was then blocked at the net to break Dunham’s service, but the Griffins opened the door with three straight unforced errors, enabling the Jackets to trail 17-16 on Peyton Watson’s block.
Dunham had a team-high four kills with Watson and Brinley Williamson adding two apiece.
Dutchtown led 20-17 before reeling off the set’s last five points with middle blocker Zoe Wooten contributing two kills, while the Jackets also had a serve-receive error and had a long return.
“We stayed competitive,” Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy said. “But we weren’t clicking on all cylinders.”
DSHS trailed 6-0 in the second game with Wooten opening with a pair of kills. The Lady Griffins also had an ace, while the Lady Jackets committed an unforced hitting error into the net and twice went long on return shots.
Dutchtown’s lead never dipped below four points after a serve-receive error during Dunham’s service made it 17-13. Consecutive kills spurred the Griffins who went on to score the last eight points of the set.
“The first game they did all right,” Dubuy said. “Then they got down in the second (set) and I looked up it was 13-8. If we hadn’t gotten down, it would have been tied 8-8. They were kind of giving up on themselves and it snowballed from there in the third game.”
Prest felt DSHS had trouble with its ability to successfully block Dutchtown’s taller team, especially Wooten, India Bennett and Lauren Launey.
“I thought we handled the middle relatively well,” she said. “Where it killed us is we got touches on blocks and didn’t know how to handle them. They would ricochet, and no one would follow.”
Dutchtown bolted to leads of 9-1 and 10-2 in the final set, a combination of Wooten’s two kills with fours and some miscommunication on the defensive end, that put the Jackets in a deep hole they were unable to climb out of.
“It’s part of the game,” Dubuy said. “We have to take this and learn from it and go one and get ready for the next one and see what you can do.”