LAKEWOOD — The tipping point for the Dawson School volleyball team on Tuesday night, ironically, came in a set two loss against Denver Christian.
The Mustangs simply knew they were better than what they showed in allowing the host Thunder to come back from a 24-20 deficit in the set to win and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
Libby Porrey rallied her teammates, and the Mustangs as a group responded effectively — a kind of fight that had head coach Carisa Kessler airborne with jubilation.
It may go down in the books as a 3-2 Denver Christian win, and an important one at that in the Class 2A Mile High League, but the Mustangs weren't outdone by anything the Thunder brought to the table on senior night. In the 25-20, 26-24, 18-25, 19-25, 15-13 win for DCS, it was a battle Dawson can learn from.
"We were so close the first two sets, and we just talked about how we had every bit of potential to come back and win this match," senior Libby Porrey said after leading the team with 21 kills, 23 digs and seven blocks. "We came out and played at an all-time high, the best we have played in a while. We had been looking for a match like that.
"This is another great team we've gotten to play, and it stinks we didn't get that fifth set. But we put the other team down (emotionally) and we utilized that."
The Mile High League has been topsy-turvy to say the least. Lyons, Daysping Christian, Union Colony Prep and yes, Denver Christian and Dawson School were still pretty much neck-and-neck in the league entering the night. They've pretty much all beaten each other up at some point, with Lyons currently atop the league with one loss — to Denver Christian.
Dawson (12-5 overall, 7-4 league) had three matches in three days last week, losing to both Dayspring (in five sets) and UCP (a 3-0 sweep) before coming back to beat Nederland.
They showed no signs of wear and tear on Tuesday. In fact, to Kessler the Mustangs continue to grow, get faster in their play and prove they are ready to take anyone on in regionals.
"Playing teams of this level the past couple weeks, we've been able to be more consistent while still learning a lot," Kessler said. "Our girls had a long week last week, but they bounced back strong and are figuring out their style of play. They're battling at this elite level — they did a great job, and we're just getting there."
Dawson led DCS in each of the first two sets including holding match point at 24-20 in set two before a shocking rally by the Thunder (15-3, 10-2) — more specifically outside hitter Hally Herder, who had four kills in the final six points to snatch the win.
But the rest of the way, for the most part, Dawson was the stronger team and Libby Porrey caught a groove that eclipsed everyone else on the court. The Mustangs secured five block points in set three and 15 total kills in set four as they built insurmountable leads in each.
Set five saw Dawson secure seven early kills from five different hitters to build a 10-7 lead. Denver Christian scored the next five points to take a 12-10 lead, and with the score tied 13-13 the Thunder were able to take advantage of a serve error and a hitting error to get the final points it needed.
"They made some smart and aggressive errors, and those are the ones you (can tolerate) because they are confident to go for some difficult shots at the end of a match," Kessler said. "They don't stop fighting."
"We grew from this match as a team and as individuals, and that counts for a lot going into the end of our season," Libby Porrey said.
Stella Bristol and Kiki Porrey were also strong in the attack, securing 15 and 10 kills, respectively, for Dawson. Dagney Javes had four blocks, and Nicole Scribner added 20 digs for the visitors.
Denver Christian 3, Dawson School 2
At Denver Christian SchoolDawson (12-5, 7-4)2024252513
Denver Christian (15-3, 10-2)2526181915
Kills — Dawson: Libby Porrey 21, Stella Bristol 15, Kiki Porrey 10.
Blocks — Dawson: L. Porrey 7, Dagney Javes 4, K. Porrey 3, Bristol 3.
Assists — Dawson: Angelina Sala 30, K. Porrey 23.
Aces — Dawson: Winter Mesko Eby 2, several with one apiece.
Digs — Dawson: L. Porrey 23, Nicole Scribner 20, Delaney Pratt 17.