GVB: Chargers avoid Dons sweep

Santa Barbara's Lourda Weger copes with Dos Pueblos blockers Bianca di Patrizi, left, Danica Minnich, center, and Rebi Neely, right. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photos)

Santa Barbara’s Lourda Weger copes with Dos Pueblos blockers Bianca di Patrizi, left, Danica Minnich, and Rebi Neely. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photos)

Other than a third-set hiccup, Santa Barbara High had Dos Pueblos figured out on Tuesday in a 25-13, 25-15, 24-26, 25-17 victory over the Chargers in a Channel League match.

“We had a really good week of practice last week,” Dons coach John Gannon said. “We did some things in practice specifically aimed at what they do and it paid off. You can see we were just on it in the first and second set.”

It was obvious the Dons were hungry for a win during the first two sets.

The Dons came out firing on all cylinders and took an early 11-3 lead and ran with it in the first set. Tough serving gave the Dons two aces in the set. They also capitalized on Dos Pueblos errors to take the set handily. Jessyca Beksa recorded seven of her 25 kills in the first set.

The momentum carried into the second for the Dons. Lourda Weger kept pace at the service line to start the match. The Dons took off with a 7-0 lead, with Weger contributing two aces. Beksa and Weger continued to be a threat on the outside, recording 8 kills between the two of them.

“There has a been a big emphasis on this game, that if we won we would get third in league. So this was a big game to get into playoffs. That was a motivation for the whole team,” said Beksa.

There was a spark for Dos Pueblos in game three. Defensively, the Chargers stepped up and got a hand on almost every ball that came their way. Karissa Mertens and Ali Milam contributed three kills each in the set. The biggest defensive move was the decision to put up a triple block on Weger and Beksa.

“I think it went something like have a little pride,” DP coach Dillan Bennett said of the improved play in the third set. “They kind of rolled over in game one and two and let Santa Barbara have its way with them.”

The Dons pulled themselves out of a large deficit and brought the game to a 23-23 tie. Santa Barbara arrived at game point but was unable to seal the deal. The Dons tried to rally but the pressure from the triple block kicked in. Two blocks from the six Charger hands finished off the set with a 26-24 victory.

“They do put up a nice triple block and it’s intimidating, but I think Lourda and I were trying to play as smart as we could and we knew with the three hands up we could put a ball away. We knew it was a big responsibility and handled it with the best of our responsibility,” Beksa said.

Jessyka Beksa, left, had a game-high 25 kills in the match.

Jessyka Beksa, left, had a game-high 25 kills in the match.

The Dons got creative in game 4 and found ways over and through the triple block. The hands in her face did not keep Beksa from recording six more kills. Weger had great ball placement and found holes in the Charger defense. The Dons led 20-16 and went on a 5-1 run, with Beksa putting the ball away for the final point.

“We talked about being steady. They play with a lot of emotion. We were trying to play steady and toward the end we were making a lot of mental errors. We needed to bear down mentally and physically to win the fourth set,” Gannon said.

Karissa Mertens and Ali Milam each had 11 kills for Dos Pueblos. Cat Hogan recorded 15 digs.

Beksa had 25 kills and Weger put away 18. Dons setter Bella Gniadek dished out 50 assists.

Santa Barbara improves to 4-2 in league while Dos Pueblos falls to 1-4.

The Dons host San Marcos on Tuesday.