GONZALES – The Denham Springs High volleyball is fighting to earn a spot in the LHSAA state playoffs, which begins in two weeks, but the Yellow Jackets didn’t help their cause Monday evening.
Denham Springs lost at East Ascension 3-0, the second time they have been swept by the Spartans, in a District 4-I matchup by scores of 25-23, 25-18 and 25-22. Still, the scrappy defensive effort put forth by the Jackets was noticed by both coaches.
Denham Springs (15-18, 1-4) built a 20-14 lead in the third set but was unable to hold on. The Yellow Jackets led 22-19 after Peyton Watson’s block, but the Lady Spartans won the next six points to finish off the Jackets.
“I felt like our girls played really well,” Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy said. “We had a lot of good rallies, obviously we came out ahead on some and came out behind on some. We got close to winning a couple of games, and last time we lost pretty good.”
Watson led the Jackets with three kills. A quartet of Jackets – Sydni Mayo, Kailey Dunham, Destiny Nassri and Sophie Faircloth – all pitched in with two kills apiece.
“(East Ascension) is a tough team but I think we played amazing against them,” DSHS setter Shelby Prest said. “I wish we could play them one more time.”
Denham Springs came into the match rated No. 27 in the latest unofficial power rankings. The top 24 advance to the playoffs leaving little room for error in the Jackets final four matches. Three of the matches are against district rivals Walker, Dutchtown and St. Amant.
Dutchtown is rated No. 2 while St. Amant is No. 13 in the power rankings.
Denham Springs hosts Ascension Christian at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Walker at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We’re on the outside looking in right now,” Dubuy said.
The first set was close throughout. EA led by four points early before the Jackets came back to force a 12-12 tie. Diamond Jones, who led the Spartans with 23 kills, had a kill and a block as EA won the next five points.
Denham Springs responded again benefiting from Olivia Alexander’s ace and Prest’s tip kill to get the Jackets within 20-19. An EA hitting error and a service error helped Denham Springs twice pull even, the last time at 23-23.
Truli Joseph served up consecutive aces as the Spartans escaped with a 25-23 set one win.
EA took control of the second set midway through, and eventually led 23-12 before winning the set 25-18.
The third set was tied 9-9, but Denham Springs surged ahead to take a 17-10 lead. Watson, Prest and Faircloth all had kills while the Spartans had three hitting errors during the run.
Jones had five kills as EA won nine of the next 13 points to close within 21-19. Watson blocked a spike by Joseph to briefly slow the Spartans down, but it was the last point the Jackets would score.
“We came out ready to play,” Dubuy said. “We know on this kind of defense you have to pitch in. They don’t hit deep corners, they hit the ball down. They can jump high and get their hands high.”