GVB: Dons survive upset-minded Owls

Laguna Blanca's Caylin Zimmerman faces Santa Barbara blockers Lucy Branch, left, and Lourda Weger, right.

Laguna Blanca’s Caylin Zimmerman faces Santa Barbara blockers Lucy Branch, left, and Lourda Weger, right.(John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photos)

The Santa Barbara High girls volleyball team had its hands full with Laguna Blanca on Tuesday night, holding off the Owls 18-25, 25-17, 25-15, 25-21.

“We will have gotten better tonight but it was a tough game because we had them,” says Owls coach Jason Donnelly.

Santa Barbara competes in CIF Division 1-A while Laguna Blanca plays in Division 4AA.

Dons coach John Gannon credits the win to team unity and tough serving.

“I told the girls we got to serve tough, but I don’t know if that message really got through until the second set,” Gannon said.

It was the Owls who had great intensity from the start with middle blocker Dani Abrams leading the charge. Owls took the first game handily thanks to Abrams playing the middle blocker and Phoebe Madsen on defense. If Abrams was not controlling the defense, she was recording one of her 3 blocks. The Owls went on a 10-0 point run, with Madsen serving, while the Dons had no answer. Abrams’ first-set play was “unstoppable,” according to Owls coach Jason Donnelly.

“When they got passed at the net they could run their middle blocker who was strong,” coach Gannon said of Abrams.

Lourda Weger found her swing in the second game, contributing 8 of her match-high 22 kills in the second set.

Team unity is really what won it for the Dons.

“We have been working on playing as a team and communicating as a team,” Gannon says.

Lucy Branch was an “unsung hero,” according to Gannon, because she kept her hand on most of the balls coming from the middle and gave the team four blocks. He also credits great ball control and defense coming from Dons libero Lauren Suh. Jessyca Beksa finished the game with 21 kills.

Laguna Blanca’s Caylin Zimmerman had a team-high 11 kills with Emily Lafitte and Abrams finishing with 9. Phoebe Madsen’s 21 digs were a game-high.

The Dons will face Buena at home on Thursday in a Channel League game. Laguna Blanca will travel to the Cate tournament on Saturday.

Lourda Weger hits just over Laguna Blanca's Dani Abrams, left, and Laurel Kujan, right. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports)

Lourda Weger hits just over Laguna Blanca’s Dani Abrams, left, and Caylin Zimmerman, right.