LANCASTER — For the first two sets of the match between Vasquez and Desert Christian, it seemed as though the Mustangs forgot to get on the bus to play the match.
In the third set after Vasquez arrived via Uber, it started to play and sent the match into a fourth set where the Knights recovered.
Sure that’s hyperbole, but Desert Christian after a hiccup in the third set regained the momentum and defeated the Mustangs 25-9, 25-4, 21-25, 25-19, Tuesday evening at Desert Christian High School.
“Between sets three and four they began to play looser and they told themselves just to go out and have fun. They were more relaxed,” Knights head coach Matthew Cataldo said. “The team got trapped in their own heads. But they played their game and they came out of it.”
The tale of the match was the dominant serving of Desert Christian and the egregious unforced errors by the Mustangs.
“The team is phenomenal at serving,” Cataldo said. “I’m happy we won, but we still have some improvements to make.”
Desert Christian (5-7, 1-2) combined to serve 20 aces led by Julia Mueller who finished with nine. Of the 96 points won by the Knights, 26 of those came off serves by Mueller. Madison Schweitzer and Cambria Parker each finished with four aces.
“I thought the team did really well tonight. We did have that let up in the third set,” said Mueller, who added four kills. “I always think my team does wonderful. We’re building our team spirit.”
Desert Christian jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set following three aces by Mueller. It built its lead to 10-4 and reeled off six consecutive points to grab a 16-7 lead. Mueller closed the first set with six more points, which included a kill herself and another by Parker.
The Knights started the second set where they left off the first as Mueller scored nine straight points including kills by four different players. Leading 9-1 in the same set the Knights used another 6-0 run, including three aces by Parker, to extend the lead to 15-1.
All four of the Mustangs’ (1-12, 1-3) points came by errors from Desert Christian. Vasquez had 18 unforced errors in the first two sets.
“We have to cut down on our errors. We seem to always start out cold and war up in the final three sets. We’re’ always getting to our level later in the match,” Vasquez head coach Linda Hudson said. “This team never quit and continued to fight. They don’t let each other quit and they continue to pick each other up.”
The Mustangs showed resiliency in the third set after the teams traded blows with the Knights, holding a slight 11-8 lead. Vasquez used its largest run of the match, 7-0, to take a 15-11 lead. That stretch included two blocks by Maya Hurtado.
Desert Christian rallied to tie the set 15-15 following an ace by Parker. The Mustangs held a 23-18 lead before the Knights trimmed the lead to 23-21, however, they would get no closer as Vasquez took the momentum into the fourth set.
“We were missing three players today and we had to switch a lot of positions around,” Vasquez’s Tommee Trusel said. “The lineup was really jumbled up, but our energy picked us up in the third set. The first and second sets is not how this team plays. But in the third and fourth we fought. We still have a lot of stuff to work on.”
Trusel and Devyn Donelson led the Mustangs with four kills each. Hurtado and Angela Gonzalez added three blocks apiece.
The match went back and forth in the fourth set. After 30 points, the teams were tied 15-15. The Knights began to pull away after winning seven of the next eight points to lead 22-16. Desert Christian fed the hot hand during that span, which was Schweitzer, who had four kills.
Both teams will compete in the California City Tournament this Friday and Saturday.