DENHAM SPRINGS – Regardless of Thursday’s outcome, the Denham Springs High volleyball team planned to present coach Pam Dubuy with flowers and a cookie cake for her birthday.
The Lady Jackets did one better.
Denham Springs made it an even sweeter occasion, defeating Episcopal in a nondistrict match Thursday night, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23.
“It’s good birthday gift,” Dubuy said. “I’ll take a win.”
Each set was close and went down to the wire regardless with the difference being Denham Springs’ ability to withstand runs from Episcopal and hold on.
The Yellow Jackets (13-15) could never fully separate from the Knights and keep their distance, but they remained even-keeled throughout and played their best when it mattered the most.
“We’re well matched with this team so it helped a lot to persevere through it,” Dubuy said. “They fought. They wanted to go into the weekend with a win after last night (a 3-0 loss to East Ascension).
“We played so well, and we carried it over, I’m happy with it,” Dubuy said. “The defense just didn’t let the ball drop. They fought for every ball.”
Peyton Watson was a force for Denham Springs offensively, recording seven kills with a dig and a block. Her kills came in spurts where she saw holes in the Knights defense and took full advantage.
“She had a bunch of kills, but they were smart plays,” Dubuy said. “They weren’t the down ball kills that tend to get people all fired up, but she hit smart kills. Those little roll shots in the middle were really helpful. She had like three or four in a row. I was expecting them to adjust to it and I told her to get ready to adjust and start swinging away.”
“They don’t block line a lot,” Watson said. “And I really enjoy hitting line. It’s always been a thing I enjoy doing and I’m able to do. It took four years to get to where I can do it but once you get into the swing of things it’s easier to hit it where you know they aren’t. I feel like I played okay, definitely not my best I know I can always do better.”
Shelby Prest enjoyed a productive match with eight kills, an ace, and dig to go along with three big blocks in the final set.
Episcopal took an early lead in the first set, but back-to-back kills from Amelia Van Oss and Prest sent the match into a back and forth mode. A huge block and kill from Van Oss and a kill from Prest gave the Jackets the final push needed to close out the set.
Episcopal rallied from an early deficit, grabbed a 8-5 lead and stretched that to 13-9 following a pair of DSHS miscues.
DSHS tied the set at 15-15 and took a 17-16 edge when Episcopal regained the lead at 23-21 and went on to a second-set triumph.
The third set followed a similar pattern with each team sharing the lead when an ace from Van Oss provided DSHS with a 14-10 lead, forcing Episcopal to take a timeout.
The Lady Jackets widened their lead to 17-11 and had to fight off a serious challenge, maintaining a 23-21 edge, when Dubuy called timeout and her team responded with a 25-21 verdict.
“As a team, we’re really good at reminding each other why we’re playing and why we’re on the court,” Watson said. “We enjoy being together, so we went back to that. It’s kind of like a family: you fight, and you make up. We get down and we pick each other up.”
Sophie Faircloth and Watson delivered kills during a final set that was played on even terms early on, giving DSHS some breathing room, 16-12.
The Lady Jackets lost the handle on that lead, trailing 19-18, but withstood the charge to clinch the match, 25-23.
“We played a lot better,” Watson said. “And our attitude was better I guess. We were really tired on Monday; we’ve been going and going. We had a little rest this week so we’re picking up ourselves back up I guess.”