ZACHARY – After losing their grip on a five-point lead and potentially a two-set lead, Denham Springs volleyball coach Pam Dubuy told her team before they returned to the floor they had two games remaining.
“I said we were going to win the next two,” Dubuy said. “They stepped it up.”
Denham Springs responded, overcoming the second-set loss with a pair of convincing wins in the third and fourth sets, to cap a 3-1 victory Thursday over Zachary.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (9-11), who have won 9 of their 11 matches, scored a 25-23, 24-26, 25-14, 25-14 victory heading into this weekend’s tournament at Woodlawn High.
“Our team has good chemistry in general,” Denham Springs’ Peyton Watson said. “We go back to that and remind ourselves that we’re playing as a team and we’re here to have fun and be together. It’s easier for us to let it (second set loss) go.”
Denham Springs, which had to fend off a furious rally from Zachary in the opening set, led the Lady Broncos 18-11 and 24-19 in the second lead courtesy of a kill from Sophia Faircloth.
Zachary (8-9) answered with a sterling service run from Brianne Bankston, who served out the match with seven consecutive points. Erin Miles picked up a kill and Monet McDaniels registered one of her match-high 35 assists that led to Kelsey White’s kill.
“I think they got a little nervous when the other team started scoring,” Dubuy said. “Their passes became tight. I told them to relax and pass like you know how to do it.”
Denham Springs stormed out to a commanding 8-0 lead in the third set with solid service games from Shelby Prest and Sydni Mayo.
Prest’s recorded a kill and fed Mayo for a kill during that opening stretch where DSHS feasted on eight unforced errors from Zachary.
“We told the girls how do you finish so strong and fight to be able to win that second set and then come back and kind of give them the game?,” Zachary coach Cheri Perry said. “Our biggest thing a lot of the time is we worry about the negative. We worry about the mistake we just had.”
DSHS maintained a double-digit lead for much of the set, leading by as many as 15 points (21-6) on Faircloth’s kill, before taking a nine-point win when Prest set up Kailey Dunham to cap the set with a kill.
The two teams swapped leads in the final set and were twice tied, the second time at 7-7 after a block from Zachary’s Machaela Neal and White, when DSHS broke the Lady Broncos’ serve with a kill from Prest, who led her team in that category with 11.
Prest also handed out 21 assists, had two digs, two aces and a block. Watson finished with nine kills and a block, while Dunham added five kills.
“They ran some quicks (hitters) which is something I’ve been getting them to do,” Dubuy said. “They feel good when they know it’s a good play.”
Madeline Meeks led Zachary with 31 digs, while White had nine kills and four blocks.
With Dunham serving four points and Prest adding five more, DSHS opened a commanding 20-9 advantage on a kill from Faircloth, two aces from Prest and a Zachary ball-handling error.
McDaniels, who added 15 digs and four aces, picked up three service points that included a kill from Alayna Flotte, when the Lady Jackets closed out the match with consecutive kills from Brinley Williamson and Zachary netting its return shot.
“Once we get in our groove we stay in it the whole time,” Watson said. “It depends on how we start and we’re able to lift each other up because we’re such a close team.”