Chargers come alive in fifth set to beat Los Al

Time flies when you’re having fun, and the fifth set flew by for Dos Pueblos on Tuesday night.

The Chargers took a spin on a roller-coaster of a match and ended up with a 25-16, 25-21, 11-25, 20-25, 15-3 win over Los Alamitos in the first round of the CIF Division I Girls Volleyball State Tournament.

Dos Pueblos hosts Clovis West in the second round on Saturday, with first serve scheduled for 5 p.m.

Sovine Gym was going absolutely bonkers as the top-seeded Chargers (31-2) took an 8-1 lead in the decisive set.

“That was the most fun game of my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much in my life. My voice is gone right now,” said senior Sally Yingst, who served the final seven points, notching three of her five aces during the run.

It was a remarkable turnaround considering the Chargers weren’t having any fun at all in the third and fourth games, going completely flat thanks in part to the booming serve of Los Alamitos junior Jane Croson.

“I think we were a little scared. Jane’s serve is freakin’ incredible,” said Yingst. “I really don’t know what happened, to be honest.”

What happened was Croson served 10 straight points into a Dos Pueblos rotation that the Chargers just couldn’t seem to get out of. Croson’s run ended with the visitors up 13-3 and DP couldn’t climb back.

Los Alamitos (31-9) stormed out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth game, but two straight kills by Sam Wopat and back-to-back blocks by Taylor Racich and Kelcey Chaffin later tied things up at 6-6. A DP service error and an ace by Christina Harris gave the lead back to the Griffins, who stayed ahead the rest of the way.

Just moments into the fifth game, however, it was apparent that the Chargers had turned it back on. Sammie Brown kicked things off with a kill on the right side and Megan Smith followed with an ace to put the hosts up 2-0. The next point was a nail-biter, as Paige Craine made two great digs and Sam Wopat added another before Brown and Carly Wopat joined forces on a roof block to end the rally.

“After that third point, me and Carly were up at the net saying ‘we’re back’,” recalled Yingst, who finished with five aces and nine kills while Carly Wopat had 13 kills and Sam notched 12.

Croson was at the service line to start the fifth game, but the same rotation that had struggled for the Chargers in the third set came trough on the first try with a pass that ended in Brown’s opening kill. Croson was stuck in the back row the rest of the game.

Community West BankThe decibel-level grew with each point as Smith notched another ace to put DP up 5-0. Yingst would get the ball at 9-3 and take care of business from there.

“When they’re on a roll like that they’re going to be tough to stop, and we didn’t do ourselves any favors by giving them free points and hanging our heads afterwards,” said Griffins coach Dave Huber.

It was the second time this year that Los Alamitos, which lost to Newport Harbor in the CIF-SS Division I-AA title match Saturday, battled back from an 0-2 deficit against Dos Pueblos only to lose in five sets. It happened on the very same court back on October 9th.

Dos Pueblos cruised through the first set on Tuesday night thanks to a 5-point service run by Yingst in the middle of the game that gave the hosts an 18-9 lead. Sam Wopat ended the frame with a left-side kill down the line. The second set was tight the whole way through, and the Griffins actually had the lead after a block by Rachel Fattal and Emily Hartong put them up 20-19.

Racich and Carly Wopat responded with a block of their own to tie the score, and Carly would have two more down the stretch before Chaffin took a swing off of a pass and buried it to close the set.

Should the Chargers win on Saturday, they will host the semifinals on Tuesday before the championship round in Irvine a week from Saturday. But first there’s some turkey to be eaten and some scouting to be done by DP head coach Todd Garrett, who said he knows nothing about Clovis West.

“I will by Friday,” he said with a grin.