Seniors lead Chargers after slow start

The heavily favored Dos Pueblos girls volleyball team was stunned when visiting San Marcos won the first game of Tuesday’s Channel League opener 25-22. But senior leadership put the Chargers back on course toward an eventual victory in four sets.

Dos Pueblos took the next three sets 25-12, 25-16, and 25-16.

“Sometimes as a coach, I just step back and let the leaders of our team step up and lead the team,” Dos Pueblos head coach Todd Garrett said.

The second-ranked team in CIF Division 1-AA was unable to equal the intensity of the visitors in the first match, as San Marcos jumped out to a 14-11 lead, forcing the Chargers to take their first timeout.

Dos Pueblos was able to tie the game at 18, but San Marcos regained the momentum after three consecutive points with libero Kat Crook serving, and pushed the score to 24-21.  The Chargers took another timeout, but were unable to salvage the game and lost 25-22.

“We threw them off a little by serving short,” San Marcos head coach Erica Downing said.  “I think it was an emotional game and I think it’s hard to come back from that emotional letdown.”

Between games, Garrett did little talking and let the leaders of his team run the discussion in the huddle.

“I didn’t have to say anything, the girls know that they didn’t play up to par,” Garrett said.

After being vocal leaders on the sideline, the Dos Pueblos seniors led by example on the court. Taylor Racich led the team with 16 kills, while libero Katie Spieler led with 13 digs.  Amanda Moriarty had an excellent all-around performance with nine kills and 11 digs.

San Marcos never regained its form and was unable to challenge the Chargers for the rest of the match, despite 10 kills from Kristen Berlo and 21 digs from Crook.

Despite the loss, the young Royals were pleased with their performance.

“I know in the past we’ve kind of been the underdog,” Downing said.  “We have a good team this year and they’re young and they want it, and they’re going to fight.”

For Dos Pueblos, the slow start was a reminder to remain focused.

“We came out not wanting to win,” Spieler said.  “Once we made a few mistakes we were just playing to get that perfect hit, that perfect set, whereas we need to just play to win.”

San Marcos continues league play on Thursday at Ventura.

Dos Pueblos will break from Channel League competition and play next at Thousand Oaks on Friday.