On Wednesday night, the Mesa Jackrabbits (9-12) hosted the Dobson Mustangs (4-11) in a girls volleyball divisional showdown. Coming off a big win on Tuesday night against Mountain View High School, the Jackrabbits won the match in four sets, dropping only the second set.
Mesa started strong in the first set to go up 20-11. Dobson was playing sluggish when assistant coach Ashley Hobbs yelled at the team, “Come on, girls! You look like you just woke up from a nap!”
This started a fire under her team, which then mounted a comeback behind a 13-4 run, tying the set at 24-24. The Mustangs couldn’t finish, however, and dropped the first set 24-26.
While losing the first set was dejecting for Dobson, the team didn’t give up there. The Mustangs didn’t trail after an 8-8 tie through the rest of the second set and closed it on a 5-0 run to win 25-20. Dobson outside hitter, Emily Smith, had a kill and two aces in that 5-0 run, and said “I would focus really hard on trying to trip them up on their weaknesses,” when serving.
Coach Will Robinson attributed the second set to the team’s fight, and said “I think we started to realize that we could beat them.”
At this point, Mesa’s players, in their home gym, realized they needed to take control of the game before it was too late. Mesa coach, Amy Strawn, spoke about the second set, saying, “Dobson just out hustled us those first two sets, and they really worked harder than we did.”
The second set’s outcome focused Mesa back into the game and enabled the team to handle the next two sets. In the final half of the match, Mesa setter, Kate Hatch, came up big for her team. She found holes in the Dobson defense, set the ball over the net, and it would consistently hit the ground untouched. Strawn spoke of her setter, “She was able to score whenever she needed to.”
In both the third and fourth sets, Mesa opened up with 17-8 runs to put the set and match out of reach for Dobson. Mesa proved to be too big and fast for Dobson, winning the third set 25-14, and the fourth 25-13.
The win would improve the Jackrabbits to 10-12 on the year and add to their winning streak, now at four matches. Dobson fell to 4-12 after a strong effort against a bigger team. Robinson said, “We just aren’t there yet.” when discussing the loss. He added, “Their blocking was better than our attacking.”
Parker Gray is a sports journalism student and Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism covering Dobson High School athletics.