The third time was the charm for Mingus Union High School’s volleyball team.
It had dropped its first two matches of the season in five sets and was faced with another five-set battle, this time against Dysart High School in its home debut on Wednesday, Sept. 6.
But the Marauders [1-2] did not let it slip away, winning the decisive set 15-10.
“They’ve had experience. They’ve realized that they don’t like losing that fifth set,” Marauders head coach Chelsea Chavez said. “They’re here, they’re home, they have their home crowd cheering them on, and they just really wanted to push through. They call it ‘pushing through the line’ and that’s what they did tonight.”
The team lost in five the previous night at Saguaro High School, and a region match at Bradshaw Mountain High School on Aug. 29 after leading 2-0.
The visiting Demons came out strong in attack the first set, and the hosts helped things along with unforced errors. A 4-0 run opened a 7-3 lead in Dysart’s favor, but Mingus reeled the deficit in. Junior middle hitter Kaitlyn Card won a joust on an overpass and followed with a kill to tie it at 14.
Another Demon run propelled them to a 25-16 win.
Then the Marauders began to clean up their mistakes and create offensive consistency. Leading the way were junior outside hitter Lindsey Jones, in her first varsity season, senior outside hitter Nikki Zielinski and Card.
In the second game they trailed just once, at 3-4, before leading 5-4 and ultimately winning 25-22.
“I think it was just a change in our mental game and it showed in our physical game,” Zielinksi said.
The third game was another solid one from Mingus. It did not take the lead until 20-19, and Jones drilled a kill down the line for game point at 24-22. A net violation gave the Marauders the win, which did not sit well with Dysart head coach Rich Ebersole.
Throughout the match Dysart ran its strongest attacks through junior outside hitter Tionna Hood. Hood was ever-present, finishing from the outside, from the back row and a had few service aces.
Game four was back-and-forth, neither team gaining more than a three-point lead until late. The Demons went on a run to go up 15-20, but Mingus responded to pull it within two at 18-20.
Then Hood rattled off five straight points to force maximum sets.
“She’s super athletic; she can just get up there, she has a vertical,” Chavez said. “We haven’t competed against a girl like that yet. So it was our first time experiencing an athletic outside hitter such as her, and she had her moments but I thought we could work around her.”
After dropping the fifth set in its prior two matches, this time around Mingus showed some of its best. It went up 2-1 on a kill by senior opposite Katelyn Prouty, and never looked back.
A Demon service error was compounded by a Zielinski service ace, and coming out of Dysart timeout she hit another.
Another Demon net violation gave Mingus match point.
On the next play Jones got the match-winning kill.
“She’s been struggling with a cold for nine days so to come out and play the way she did tonight was really awesome,” Chavez said. “She was aggressive when we needed her to be. And that’s our focus is been struggling when it’s tight games like tonight and she wasn’t afraid. She kept hitting the ball and hitting the ball.”
Thursday, Sept. 7
@ Sunrise Mountain High School
Marauders 0 14 9 16
Mustangs 3 25 25 25