GVB: Dos Pueblos holds off Dons in four sets

About the only thing missing from Tuesday night’s volleyball slugfest between Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara was a bell to end it.

With the student sections on both sides of J.R. Richards Gym roaring, the Chargers and Dons traded heavy blows and battled like a couple of prize fighters. When the Channel League match was over, Dos Pueblos emerged as the victor in four sets, 25-23, 25-18, 18-25, 28-26.

The result leaves the Dons and Chargers at 1-1 in league play.

Santa Barbara (9-4) played the match without four seniors, including three starters, who were serving suspensions. The Dons, however, showed little drop off in their performance. The players who took the floor played their hearts out and didn’t make it easy for Dos Pueblos.

“They were digging some of the best stuff we brought but we kept bringing it,” DP coach Todd Garrett said. “Thank goodness the ball went down. They were covering that floor. Kudos to them, they played their hearts out.”

Santa Barbara coach John Gannon was moved by the all-out effort of his players.

“You know you ask girls to step up and you always hope they will step up but to see them actually put their best foot forward and compete and challenge themselves, that was so great to see.”

The fourth set was an edge-of-your-seat thriller, as the teams pounded balls at each other. A kill from middle Caroline Anderson gave the Dons a 22-21 advantage. The teams wouldn’t let the ball drop on the next point until DP’s McKenna Goss slammed one off the block to tie the score. A DP serving error gave the lead back to Santa Barbara, but Goss came back and knotted the score with an off-speed shot to the middle.

Dos Pueblos thought it took a 24-23 lead when Natalie Klapp appeared to bury a ball from behind the 10-foot hitting line. The referee, however, called a back-row violation. He then called for a replay after Chargers coach Todd Garrett pointed out that Klapp had taken off from behind the line. On the replay, Danica Minnich and Audrey Baldwin combined on a block to put the Chargers ahead.

With Santa Barbara students screaming at the top of the lungs, DP committed a serving error and the score was tied at 24. Goss delivered again with a dig and put away, but Santa Barbara evened the score after another long rally.

Klapp, who had struggled with her hitting earlier in the match, came up big for the Chargers. She delivered a kill from the outside for a 26-25 lead and scored on an off-speed shot to make it 27-26.

Garrett was glad to see the senior outside hitter come through.

“I pulled Natalie aside after Game 3,” the coach said. “The team had a meeting earlier and said I had the permission to call kids out, and I pulled her aside and called her out. I said, ‘We need you. Your passing and defense have been incredible tonight, your hitting and serving hasn’t. We need you in this fourth game to step it up right now.’ She did.”

The Dons fought to get the equalizer but they ran out of gas and committed a hitting error, and DP escaped with the victory.

DP’s Goss led all hitters with 17 kills. She added 11 digs and one block. Klapp also posted a double-double with 13 kills and 16 digs, Kelsey McBride delivered four kills and two blocks, Hillary Bean added three kills and two blocks and Sam Sander had 11 digs.

Beksa had 10 kills and Tatum Vedder added eight to lead Santa Barbara’s attack.

Lourda Weger, normally an outside hitter for Santa Barbara, handled the setting duties after only three days of practice at the position. Tatum Vedder played well all around and Emily Robertson and Lauren Suh were fearless as defensive specialists, digging bullets from DP’s Goss and Klapp.

“DP has some really good outside hitters,” Gannon said. “Gosh, I could not be more proud of the girls that stepped up tonight. It’s so fun to compete. I thought we were going to go five tonight. We were so close to going five.”

He added: “It was awesome to watch, to have these girls believe they can do it, too.”

The Chargers got clutch play from Hillary Bean and Kelsey McBride at the net and Sam Sander in the back row.

“This is great,” said Garrett of the win. “This is a rivalry game no matter what’s going on and this is a tough gym to win in. So, this is a really good confidence booster for the girls.”