Sofia Kolbe (2) extends to bump a ball against Spanish Springs Thursday night on the Tigers' home floor.
Photo by Ron Harpin.
After a loss to Galena in the first home league game of season, Douglas High volleyball coach Suzi Townsell said the Tigers had to work on closing out sets.
In the nine days and three matches since, Douglas has dropped just two sets – both of which came Thursday night against Spanish Springs.
However, dropping two sets wasn’t a result of a lack of finishing as Douglas escaped with a five-set win over the Cougars 18-25, 25-17, 16-25, 25-16, 15-11.
“We’ve gotten way better at it. After that Galena game we talked about it. We are such a good team, we just need to push to the end,” said senior captain Riley Mello.
That push showed in the fourth and fifth sets as the Tigers extending their current winning streak to three contests.
Recovering from the third set
Through three sets Thursday night, the Tigers may still have been trying to find that push.
Douglas trailed 9-0 to start the third set before dropping the set, 25-16.
In between sets, the Tigers huddle didn’t show any signs of stress or anxiousness.
Instead, the white and orange were dancing to “Cotton Eyed Joe.”
The song wasn’t playing over the speakers; it just so happens to be one of the ways the Tiger team stays loose.
“It’s really hard, but we are trying to pick ourselves back up,” said fellow senior captain Marin Collins. “It’s our team song and dance, so it really helps boost morale.”
After the third, Douglas dictated play in the fourth set.
Mello had seven kills in the fourth set, including an untouched finish that gave the Tigers a 19-12 lead.
Collins followed with an ace to give Douglas a 22-15 edge before junior outside hitter Addy Reynolds tallied a kill of her own to force a Cougar timeout.
Douglas has adjusted its mental approach to finishing sets and it starts by building to a certain point.
“Once we get to 18 (points), there’s nothing else. No hesitation,” said Collins.
“Energy was a big part; our bench really helped us out,” said Mello.
In the fifth tied at 8-8, Mello turned to a strategy she’d seen success with throughout the night, tipping the ball to empty space for a kill.
She added another kill, off a feed from Mia Bertolone, to give Douglas a 12-9 lead in the fifth and final set.
Mello ended up serving the final point of the match, which wasn’t returned over the net by the Cougars.
Front line work
The Tigers’ height and athleticism up front helped paved the way Thursday night.
Mello posted a team-high 14 kills while Collins was right behind her with 12 of her own.
Juniors Sofia Kolbe and Addy Doerr posted 10 kills and seven kills, respectively.
On the block, Kolbe and Collins had six and four blocks, respectively.
“It was huge. We weren’t used to seeing their blocks in the first set,” said Collins. “Learning to get around them was crucial. Then getting the timing for our blocks really helped out our back row.”
As dominant as the front row was down the stretch, 12 different Douglas players recorded digs in the win.
Mia Bertolone dished out 23 assists while Emma Glover added seven more.
Bertolone also recorded five aces in the win, including one in the fourth set that forced a Cougar timeout.
“Our back row helps when they talk on the hitting. When they talk, we do better on the front line,” said Mello.
UP NEXT: Douglas (8-3, 4-3) gets a week off before hosting its rival to the North, Carson.