University High’s seniors provided the spark needed to complete a quick sweep of Division IV, District 3 rival The Dunham School on the Cubs’ volleyball Senior Night on Wednesday.
Senior duo Terri Drake and Destiny Ephrom commanded the net for the Cubs in a 3-0 win over the Tigers. University (14-17, 11-1) defeated Dunham 25-19, 25-22, 25-18 to go 2-0 in the season series.
For University coach Bonita Johnson, the Cubs played with more urgency than in the Sept. 28 meeting at Dunham. In that contest, the Cubs failed to finish as the Tigers pushed U-High to four sets after fighting back to take the third game. The prematch festivities honoring four seniors provided momentum for U-High throughout.
“I think they were fired up with it being Senior Night and playing against Dunham,” Johnson said of her team’s performance. “They had a lot to lose if we didn’t win this game. The difference is they played relaxed and played with energy. The energy brings out the best in their play and makes everything work. “
That energy was evident as for the Cubs as Ephrom provided 10 kills, one dig and one block, while Drake added 13 assists, 11 digs, seven kills and four aces. Sophomore Cathryn Coulter and junior Naya Marshall contributed eight kills, six digs and nine assists combined. Sophomore Bailey Grimes collected three kills and three digs.
At times, Dunham (11-16, 8-3) struggled to find its rhythm, but tested U-High throughout. In the end, its effort wasn’t consistent, and the loss ended a five-game win streak for the Tigers.
Dunham senior Caroline Safford registered six digs and junior Gabriel Hurst contributed one assist in the match. Dunham coach Donna Pixley was not pleased with her team’s performance.
“We were horrible,” Pixley said. “We did not execute anything that we worked on. We didn’t play with any intensity. Didn’t show any desire to win.”
In the opening set, U-High scored eight consecutive points to jump out to a 11-3 lead. Dunham fought back to cut the lead to 17-14. The Tigers fought within two before dropping the set on an error.
The Cubs never trailed in Set 2, taking a 10-5 lead. Dunham chipped at the lead, eventually coming within one (18-17) on strong serving from Caroline Safford, but Ephrom cut the Dunham rally short by scoring the next two points to push the Cubs’ lead to four. With Dunham threatening again at 24-22, Drake sealed the match with a kill.
Set 3 began with four ties before Dunham broke through to an 11-9 lead. U-High regained the advantage at 13-12, and eventually Grimes seal the win. Drake said the sweep and team effort on Senior Night was special.
“We just came out and executed how we planned and how we practiced,” Drake said. “Serves were a lot better than it’s been recently, and we just kept our energy up. It felt great, and this is what I always wanted.”