JR Richards Gymnasium was electric for the renewal of the crosstown rivalry between the Santa Barbara High and San Marcos girls’ volleyball teams.
Coming off a disappointing loss in their last Channel League match against Oxnard, Santa Barbara was determined to avoid the same pitfalls, and the Dons delivered when it mattered most en route to a 25-19, 16-25, 25-23, 25-19 victory on Tuesday night.
“I definitely think that fired them up,” said Santa Barbara coach Kristin Hempy of the five-set loss to Oxnard. “We had some struggles closing and finishing matches when we get close to the end, so we talked a lot about that.”
Senior outside hitter Shae Delany led the way for Santa Barbara with 14 kills, eleven digs, two blocks, and four aces.
Santa Barbara also received excellent production from middle blockers Nicole Schuetz and Augustine Wooten, who combined for 13 kills and ten blocks. The Dons set the tone of the match with tough serving, which included five aces in the first set alone.
“It’s always great to jump out with strong serving. We do have a very talented serving team kind of all around,” Hempy said. “Tessa (De Albergaria) usually does really great, Shae serves well, Emmy (Werner) serves well, Gracie (Meinzer) serves really strong, and so yeah that definitely is a plus for us when we can get our strong servers going and kind of get on a run a little bit.”
San Marcos improved its serve receive in the second set and appeared poised to take control of the match after taking a 23-15 lead on an ace serve by Kate Edgar.
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The Royals went on to clinch set two and even the match on a kill by Elena Thomas.
“It comes down to our team doing the little things right and playing those multiple ball rallies,” said San Marcos coach Tina Brown. “Our team has a really good opportunity for this season.”
Set three was a pivotal point in the match and hotly contested. Neither team led by more than three points throughout the set. A cross-court spike by Serena Byrd evened the score at 23-23, Delaney gave Santa Barbara a 24-23 lead with a solo block and the Dons clinched a 2-1 set lead when San Marcos hit wide.
The momentum carried over into the fourth set as Santa Barbara jumped out to a 10-3 lead and cruised to victory.
“I said, ‘we’re not going to five. We’ve gone to five too many times already. This is ending in four right here,” recalled Hempy of her message to her team. “‘We’re winning three, we’re winning four and we’re going home,’ and they did it.”
Thomas led San Marcos with a match-high 16 kills and middle blocker Eloise McGibben chipped in 13 kills.