WATSON – Denham Springs volleyball team has nearly dug itself out of an insurmountable hole to start the season.
The Lady Yellow Jackets won for the eighth time in their last 10 matches, including Tuesday’s 3-0 sweep over Live Oak 25-19, 25-18, 25-19.
“This is a great game to play,” Denham Springs coach Pam Dubuy said. “Live Oak is always good competition. I think we get hyped up because it’s just down the road. I love playing Live Oak.”
Denham Springs (8-11) parlayed quick starts in the first two sets and pulled away midway through the third from Live (7-4).
“I’m not going to take anything from Denham,” Live Oak coach Chastity Sims. “They played very well. They did a good job. My girls fought, but they didn’t fight as hard as they needed to.”
When Jamie Elenbaas fed Sophia Foster for a kill, that represented the first time Live Oak led in the entire match. There were two ties when Shelby Prest’s ace gave Denham Springs the lead for good at 12-11.
Prest served her team’s next six points, opening a 17-11 advantage, with Sophie Faircloth delivering a block, Prest another ace and Live Oak going wide on a return and long on another.
Olivia Betz registered four of her 10 kills to keep the Lady Eagles within striking distance, trailing 19-16, when teammate Lara Cartwright followed with an ace.
Betz also had 11 digs, while Cameron Gerage led Live Oak with 11 kills to go with three aces. Elenbaas registered 21 assists, five digs and 5 aces.
“They know better,” said Sims, whose team has a district match Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Woodlawn. “It hurts because I know they’re capable of playing better than that. They’re capable of not making those mistakes, but I don’t want to take anything away from Denham. They played really hard and they fought hard.”
Denham Springs’ Olivia Alexander served an ace and following a long return from Live Oak, and the Yellow Jackets closed the match on another long return with Kailey Dunham serving.
“We played smart, knew where to or not to hit the ball,” Dubuy said. “There were a lot of good rallies where neither team gave up. I think we all wanted it the same, but our whole team played together, and it showed.”
Middle hitter Sydni Mayo topped DSHS with seven kills with Dunham adding four and Peyton Watson three. Faircloth totaled three blocks and Prest had four of her team’s eight aces.
With Faircloth serving four straight points, DSHS got out of the gate early in the first set, leading 9-2 in a sequence that also featured an ace, but also four errors from Live Oak.
The Lady Eagles, with Cartwright serving, got to within 11-9 on Elebaas’ assist to Gerage, but the Yellow Jackets were able to fend off any further challenges.
With DSHS’s lead down to 22-19 after a serve-receive error, Dunham’s kill down the line broke Live Oak’s service and with Dunham serving, the Yellow Jackets scored two straight points, including an ace to cap the win.
“I think the girls came ready to play,” Dubuy said. “We had a bad serving practice Monday, but they showed they fixed what needed to be fixed and that prepared us to play.”
DSHS threatened to run away in the second set, bolting to a 10-2 advantage with Prest serving the game’s first six points, including an ace, along with a block and kill from Mayo, the latter on an assist from Prest.
Prest later had a pair of aces during a four-point service, helping to increase her team’s lead to 20-10 after Mayo fed Brinley Williamson for a kill.
Five service points from Gerage, a stretch that featured an ace and kill from Betz, pulled Live Oak within 21-17, but a block from Williamson and Faircloth stopped that run and the Yellow Jackets got their service back and Alexander served out the set.
“The last couple of games we’ve gotten ahead they kind of sat on their heels and let the other team come back and take it away from them,” Dubuy said. “This time they didn’t let that happen and I’m hoping we’ll take that forward and use it as a learning experience as to what to do.”