WALLA WALLA — Dayton picked up its second Southeast 2B volleyball victory of the season Tuesday night, downing host DeSales in three sets, 25-18, 25-12 and 25-16.
McKayla Bickelhaupt and Courtney Mings led the Bulldog offense with nine and six kills, respectively, as Dayton (2-2 SE2B) capitalized on communication struggles from the young Irish (0-4).
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Dayton coach Shannon Turner said of her team. “The close matches we did not win in the past we’re starting to close out. The girls are starting to learn how to finish points, finish sets and finish matches.”
Bickelhaupt provided the spark for the Dayton offense and Turner credited the setters with getting the ball in better position for the senior outside hitter.
“When she (Bickelhaupt) does that we’ve been a lot better,” Turner said. “Now our setters are getting the ball closer to the net and we’re starting to get better teamwork. We’ve improved a lot over our last matches.”
After coming back from 9-3 deficit in the first game only to see Dayton pull away for the win, the Irish energy level dropped and so too did their communication.
“In the beginning (of the season) it was a problem,” DeSales coach Hailee Cole said of her team’s communication. “In these last few games they had begun to communicate better. Just in this game, after the first set our energy level dropped and everything else went with it.”
The Bulldogs scored eight straight points to open the second game before the Irish got on the board on a missed serve from Mings, her only miss on 24 attempts.
The Irish stablized, with a massive kill from sophomore Allison Wujek igniting a quieted DeSales gymnasium and pulling the Irish within seven, 12-5. But Dayton answered with four straight points and added an 8-2 rally to squash any DeSales comeback.
“Energy and momentum are huge,” Cole said. “As soon as you lose energy, that’s when things like passing, communication and talk go down with it.
“They started with low energy and then all those little problems started to add up,” Cole said of the poor start to game 2. “It’s all learning lessons too, I’m sure they’ll learn from this and take it to heart. I’m sure they’ll pick it up pretty quick.”
DeSales fought to a 7-all tie to begin the third game, but Dayton broke the game open with a nine-point rally.
DeSales battled back again, this time pulling within four at 17-13, but Dayton rolled to an 8-3 finish to close out the three-set match.
“It’s so tough (to watch the Irish struggle) because they have so much potential,” Cole said. “They have moments of greatness and I love to see them in those moments, then they have moments where you can see they’re still young and they’re still working on learning.”
Bickelhaupt finished with eight digs in addition to her kills for Dayton, while Courtney Mings added seven digs to her statline.
Madison Mings picked up 10 blocks.
Jessica Tate set up 17 assists while digging up 11 balls and serving 19-for-19.
Lexi Ramirez had five kills and two blocks while going 10-for-10 from the service stripe.
Sarah Phillips added 11 digs.
DeSales’ Claire Conley had four kills and a pair of aces to go with six digs.
Allison Wujek picked up three kills and a pair of blocks.
Hannah Leahy had two kills and nine digs, while Alyssa James had two kills, two aces, three digs and a block.
Teresa Acock had 10 digs and Allesyn Lyons had six assists and four digs.
The Irish face Waitsburg-Prescott Thursday at 6 p.m.
Dayton visits Walla Walla Valley Academy Wednesday at 6.