DENHAM SPRINGS – Denham Springs High senior Sydni Mayo’s witnessed such a display before.
She said there’s been no rhyme or reason when the Lady Yellow Jackets tend to roller-coaster their way through matches, especially those like Thursday, where they stepped out of District 4-I action for the next-to-last time this season.
The result against a determined Springfield team netted a 3-0 victory, but Denham Springs found itself pushed to the limit in the two of the three sets, overcoming its own inconsistent play at times to triumph, 25-21, 25-8, 25-18, at Hornsby Gymnasium.
“If it’s a lower intensity game we play with low intensity,” Mayo said “We have a tendency to play against whatever team we’re playing and play with the team. I can’t tell why we do it. It’s just a bad habit. I don’t think we played terrible. It definitely wasn’t our best. It took us a while to get into it.”
Mayo topped DSHS (15-17) with six kills, an assist and ace with Kailey Dunham adding three kills and two aces. Sophie Faircloth and Peyton Watson had two kills apiece, while Shelby Prest added seven assists, three assists and a kill.
DSHS coach Pam Dubuy took the opportunity to tweak her starting lineup and alter her offensive approach, opting for setters Mallory Landry and Savannah Carter to run the team’s 6-2 offense.
The Lady Jackets were slow to find a rhythm, thanks in part to the net play of Springfield’s Tabitha Lobell, who was dominant and kept the Bulldogs (7-14) within striking distance for much of the opening set.
The teams were tied six times when Brinley Williamson and Faircloth teamed on a block for a 15-14 lead.
DSHS maintained the upper hand, gaining a 20-15 lead on an ace from Faircloth, when Springfield stormed back within 21-20 on a pair of aces from Lobell and an unforced hitting error.
“We kind of played around with the lineup,” Dubuy said. “I wanted to see what they would do without her (Prest) if we got in that situation again and to see what we could work with. I wanted to see how they would adjust to different situations.”
Dunham’s kill, combined with her subsequent three service points that included an ace, put DSHS within set point when Peyton Watson’s tip closed out the 25-21 win.
DSHS feasted on seven errors in the early stages of the second set, riding an impressive 10 service points from Prest to build a 12-0 advantage when Springfield netted a return for the second straight time.
The Bulldogs, who were without standout Rachel Wheat, stopped the Lady Jackets’ surge when Lobell turned Olivia Davis’ assist into a kill.
“I have no idea what happened in that second set,” Springfield coach Miranda Lobell said. “We had the same girls on the court, the same lineup, the same everything. I don’t know what the difference was between the first and third sets.”
Faitcloth later served five points, a sequence where Watson picked up both of her kills, and a wide return increased DSHS’ lead to 21-4.
Dunham served an ace and a dink from Prest finished the set.
“I’ve had to ask them to step up a lot this year and to make huge adjustments,” coach Lobell said. “Overall, I’m proud of their ability to answer to that. We’ve had a few setbacks and in games like that where we’re playing a much bigger school, it’s hard. We have a young team and they have quite a few seniors.”
Springfield, led by Tabitha Lobell’s six aces, five kills and four assists, overcame deficits of 7-2 and 10-4 to pull even at 15-15 following a kill from Lobdell and a consecutive-hits call against the Jackets.
Lobell’s block gave the Bulldogs their first lead since midway in the first set, but Mayo tied it at 16-16 and DSHS wasn’t able to pull away until late.
With Prest, serving they reeled off the last six points that was capped by Prest’s assist to Mayo for another kill.
“We went from going up 14-1 (in second set) to where they were leading us for a little bit,” Mayo said. “It’s a wake-up, like ‘you might want to start playing’. It’s also a team thing. You have to make sure you’re not just playing for yourself, but everyone else. You have to step it up.”