WALKER – One of the byproducts of playing from ahead and building comfortable leads is the ability to experiment with both alignments and personnel.
It wasn’t something Denham Springs took lightly, gaining advantages midway in both the first two sets before taking an early commanding lead in the third for a 25-12, 25-16, 25-11 District 4-I sweep on Monday over Walker at Glen Ellis Gymnasium.
“It gave us a chance to try out new plays like quicks (sets), try different setters, to see what will work in the future and if we’re missing a player which was the case earlier in the season,” Denham Springs middle blocker Sophie Faircloth said.
With a 2-0 lead in the match Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy said she tested a new offensive formation that proved successful, especially with a new setter in Mallory Landry getting the opportunity to run it.
“I wanted to see how the players would gel and could they get on the court and play well,” she said. “They did fine. I like to know what works if I need it.”
There wasn’t much that didn't click for Denham Springs (14-15 overall, 1-1 in district) which hosts league-leading Dutchtown at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The swift result was hailed a possible momentum builder for the Lady Jackets.
“We were keeping up the momentum and keeping it going,” Faircloth said of the Walker match. “I hope that can lead into the Dutchtown game. That’s going to be a hard game for us. It ought to be fun.”
Senior Shelby Prest topped DSHS with 15 assists and four kills, while Faircloth had seven kills, four aces and a block. Kailey Dunham added six assists and three kills, Peyton Watson five kills and Sydni Mayo four kills and two aces.
Middle blocker Hannah Lily led Walker (4-19, 0-2) with seven blocks. Gabby Hunt had five digs, three aces and three kills for the Lady Cats.
“I was excited to see them step up in the first two (sets),” Walker coach Kaylee Guidry said. “I’ve been telling them our opponent is not Denham, it’s ourselves. We gave them several points in that third set. Hopefully we’re going to learn from it, move on and see some benefits from this.”
Dunham provided the first big spark in the opening set, helping DSHS turn a four-point edge into a 13-4 lead with four service points that included a pair of aces and a pair of assists from Prest to Watson and Mayo for kills.
Prest held service for five points that increased DSHS’ lead to 21-8 where three different players – Mayo, Faircloth and Brinley Williamson – all had kills and Faircloth added a block.
Mayo served consecutive aces and a four-hits call against Walker wrapped up the opening set.
Alexis Shirley led off the second set with an ace – Walker’s lone lead of the match – when DSHS’ serving took over with three combined aces from Dunham and Faircloth to make it 9-3.
Landry took advantage of her extensive playing time, serving four points where she set Watson and Amelia Van Oss for kills and a 14-5 cushion after Walker was long on a pair of returns.
The Lady Jackets built a double-digit lead on a hitting error and finished strong with Prest registering three assists to Watson, Faircloth and Van Oss for kills, while Prest also added a dink kill of her own.
DSHS eliminated any drama in the final set, jumping out to a commanding 14-2 lead, a stretch where Faircloth’s serving resulted in two aces and four serve-receive errors against Walker.
Landry served four points, setting up Prest for a kill, while Watson had a block that made it 19-4.
The Lady Cats momentarily stopped the surge with Anne Ferrand serving three points and Lily getting a pair of blocks, but a long return and a kill from Van Oss secured the match.
“It’s a good win for a Monday because you’re coming back from the weekend and you haven’t touched a ball,” Dubuy said. “They came in and showed they were ready to play. I got a little frustrated in the last game when Walker got five points in a row. They were playing too relaxed. I kind of have gave them a look and they pulled it out.”