Dos Pueblos comes through in crunch time, beats Royals in 5 sets

Natalie Klapp of Dos Pueblos tips over San Marcos blockers during the Chargers' five-set match victory at the Thunderhut. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Natalie Klapp of Dos Pueblos tips over San Marcos blockers Kamille Williams, left, and  Lauren Orlich during the Chargers’ five-set match victory at the Thunderhut. (Presidio Sports Photos)

Tight volleyball matches can some times be decided by the right player rotation.

Dos Pueblos had the rotation it wanted during crunch time in its five-set epic at San Marcos on Tuesday night. With top hitter McKenna Goss at the left front and libero Sam Sander serving, the Chargers rallied from a 14-12 deficit in the 15-point game and tied the score. They would outscore the Royals 3-1 down the stretch to pull out the Channel League win at the Thunderhut.

The match scores were 18-25, 25-20, 25-20, 24-26, 17-15.

The stirring victory gives DP a 3-1 record in the first round of league play. Two of the wins were the crosstown matches on the road. San Marcos falls to 1-2 in league.

With the match on the line, Dos Pueblos coach Todd Garrett couldn’t have asked for a better rotation for his team.

“We started in row two in Game 5 and that put McKenna at left front, so we could get her three swings in the front row,” Garrett explained. “I will be honest, when it was 13-all, Sam was back serving again and Mckenna was at left front and got to go through the front again. It worked out nicely for us.”

Goss ripped back-to-back kills to tie the score at 14. Emma Harrah put away a step-out spike to put San Marcos back on top, 15-14. Goss delivered again for the Chargers, getting the side out at 15-15. Two tough serves by Sander had the Royals scrambling, which allowed DP to score the final two points. A tight set led to a net violation to make it 16-15 and Natalie Klapp scored the winning point with a kill.

San Marcos coach Erica Menzel Downing said her team’s back-row defense needed to step up during the match, especially down the stretch.

“We had 57 digs but we had 61 defensive errors,” she said. “We were trying to funnel balls to a certain spot and we know they’re going to hit there, and those are the plays we need to make. And those are the ones we didn’t.”

Anika Wilson of San Marcos tries hit past the Dos Pueblos block.

Anika Wilson of San Marcos tries hit past the Dos Pueblos block.

Goss led the charge for Dos Pueblos with 18 kills, four blocks and four aces. Klapp had 15 kills and middle Kelsey McBride added eight.

“It’s really important in tight matches to keep a level head that’s what our team did and San Marcos didn’t,” said an excited Goss.

Sander was a stalwart on defense for the Chargers with 23 digs.

Garrett said the middles had a big part in the win.

“I’ll tell you the ones who stepped up at the right times were our middles,” said Garrett of McBride and Danica Minnich. “There were really key middle kills that gave us a lot of momentum.”

McBride had several of those clutch kills. A kill gave the Chargers a lead they would never give up in the second set. In the fourth set, she blocked a dump attempt by San Marcos setter Gabi Peoples to tie the score at 23-all.

“She was doing work for us, getting stuff done and getting important points for us. She came into her own in this game,” said Goss of McBride.

Serving also was a key for the Chargers.

“Tonight we lived and died by the serve; it killed us and it got us runs.”

Downing was impressed with DP’s aggressiveness from the service line.

“DP is a great team. I thought they served lights out. They went back at 14-all and were serving bombs. They came here wanting to win badly.”

The Royals played without outside hitter Chloe Allen. She sprained her ankle during a club volleyball tryout this week.

Natalie Klapp, pictured, and Makenna Goss were DP's kill leaders.

Natalie Klapp, pictured, and Makenna Goss were DP’s kill leaders.

“She’s a big part of our team defensively and offensively,” Downing said. “We need her more defensively.”

Anika Wilson led the Royals’ attack with 19 kills. With Chloe Allen out, Wilson moved from the right to the left side of the offense. Emily Allen added 12 kills.

“Anika and Emily took on a heavy role tonight Between the two of them they took probably 80 percent of our swings”.

Middle Emma Harrah contributed eight kills for the Royals.

Garrett was excited how his team fought back from deficits in every set it won.

“The tenacity and the intuitiveness our girls showed to come back from being behind in every one of those sets we won is so impressive to me,” he said.

San Marcos pulled away down the stretch in the first set. A back-row kill from Wilson ignited an 8-1 run for the Royals.

In the second set, Emily Allen hit down the line to pull San Marcos within one, 21-20. Dos Pueblos’ defense stepped up and made the plays that led to a 4-point run to even the match at one set apiece. In the third set, Dos Pueblos went on an 8-0 run to tie the score 16-16. Sander had two aces in the run. The Chargers finished with a 5-1 run to take a 2-1 advantage in sets.

“Giving up an 8-point run in Game 3 is torture,” Downing said. “Hopefully, (my players) can take something from this.”

San Marcos lost a 17-14 lead in the fourth set, fell behind 18-17, fought back and won the set on a dig by Emily Allen followed by Wilson kill.

“We had some great moments,” Downing said. “It was really fun. That was high school volleyball at its finest, going back and forth. With one maybe two digs, it could have changed the game completely in Game 3 and Game 5.”