University High was tested early, but with the match on the line, the Cubs powered past The Dunham School to win 3-1 in Division IV, District 3 volleyball action on Monday night at Dunham.
The Cubs (9-10, 6-0), who lost in the Division IV quarterfinals last season, remained perfect in district play beating the Tigers, 25-20, 25-17, 22-25 and 25-17 with the road win.
U-High trailed at the start of three of the four sets, which included a 14-7 deficit in set two. Cubs coach Bonita Johnson said the game was a much needed win for her team.
“We’ve been losing some close games and I think tonight was some good competition for them and a confidence booster,” U-High coach Bonita Johnson said. “This win let them know that they can play well and they showed up tonight.
“We got in a rut, where we would mess up, one person, then the next. We found our groove, our serving was really good and that helped us a lot tonight.”
UHS senior middle hitters Terri Drake and Destiny Ephrom combined for 23 kills, 21 digs, four blocks and one ace. The Cubs got major contributions from from sophomore duo — libero Jill Jones, who provided 14 digs, and sophomore outside hitter Cathryn Coulter, who compiled three kills and 18 digs.
Dunham (5-10, 4-1), which lost in the Division V quarterfinals last season, struggled to maintain its leads throughout the game.
“We didn’t execute the plan that we needed to execute to help us win,” Dunham coach Donna Pixley said. “I thought we had some players play really well but you can’t make as many errors as we did against a team as athletic as they are. It just comes back to bite you.”
For the Tigers, junior Gabby Hunt led the way with 11 kills and four aces, while seniors Alyssa Deason and Aine Muhumuza contributed a total of nine kills, 11 digs and 24 assists.
In the opening set, the two teams went point-for-point with a total of four lead changes before University pulled away to a 14-9 lead. The Cubs led by as many as seven before a comeback effort from Dunham. With the Cubs at set point leading 24-15, Dunham rallied within five, before losing the set on a missed serve.
The Tigers returned in the second set, jumping out to a 14-7 lead before U High rallied behind the play of Ephrom to bring the game within five.
Set three featured eight lead changes and was decided on the final serve. Dunham surged to an 9-1 lead, and the Cubs climbed within two 24-22 before the Tigers secured the set.
In the final set, University took command after surging 18-13 before taking the match on strong serving from Jones.