Photo: Kirk Sides / Staff Photographer
LEAGUE CITY – When Dawson is digging and blocking with the tenacity it displayed Tuesday night, the window for success against the Lady Eagles is miniscule.
Starting off quickly and never letting its foot off the pedal, Dawson rolled to a 25-18, 25-12, 25-13 win over Clear Creek in a non-district volleyball match at Carlisle Fieldhouse.
“I think we were really excited coming in here tonight on a high note after a fifth-place finish in the (Adidas John Turner Classic),” Lady Eagle senior libero Dahlia Miller said.
“Our last practice, we worked on everything you saw here tonight and clearly incorporated it well. Our defense was a lot easier tonight because our block was so dominating. It just made it easier to transition to a position we needed to be in.”
Dawson (10-1) controlled the match so decisively that Clear Creek (6-5) was never able to get the lead. Several times in game one the Lady Wildcats fought back – the last time at 20-17 – but Dawson reasserted itself to win five of the final six points.
Dawson senior middle blocker Nicole Deslatte had 17 kills in a variety of ways – blocks, touch shots or howitzers she fired straight down. Her sister, Madison, playing on the right side, hammered 11 winners.
Other firepower came from junior outside hitter Alexia Jones, sophomore left side hitter Kylie Nance, and senior middle blocker Aliyah McDonald.
Setters Carrie Tripp, Kamryn Scroggins and Miller, all lunged for balls, retrieved them and often nullified Creek’s best efforts at winning points.
Dawson’s vast array of weapons simply proved too much for the Lady Wildcats.
“We have to play better than that,” Creek head coach Scott Simonds said. “I can take losing to Dawson, but not the way we did.
“They have a ton of size, experience and athleticism, good setting and a good libero. They have what you need to be successful.
“We had a kid out and just got Spencer (Plato) back, but (winning) against that team would have been difficult to do with everybody healthy. They’re good.”
The Lady Eagles, whose only loss is to The Woodlands, built an 11-3 lead in the first set. Clear Creek fought back with strong hitting from junior Aaliyah Ellis and Madison Cole. However, eight Dawson errors also contributed to that comeback.
In the second set, Madison Deslatte delivered three immediate kills as Dawson jumped to a 4-0 lead.
Creek rallied with a kill and two block winners from Shaina Westfall to close within 10-9.
At that point, Dawson took control, reeling off the next eight points for an 18-9 lead. Nicole Deslatte scored four straight points in that surge, three on blocks while Lauren Scott and Nance also delivered kills.
After Creek made it 19-12 on a kill from Cole, Dawson scored the next six points, closing out the set on a winner from McDonald.
Set three was close at 9-6 when Dawson went on a 6-1 run to open a 15-7 cushion. Again, it was Nicole Deslatte rejecting Creek’s best efforts at the net with four kills.
The Lady Eagles coasted to the triumph with senior Lauren Witte collecting the kill on the final point.
“Our defense has stayed strong, carrying over from last year,” Nicole Deslatte said. “We work on it a lot in practice, and we try to elevate our level of play throughout a match.
“We focus on blocking most to have an effective game.”
Simonds said his team needs more practice time to become an effective unit.
“There were times last week when we looked pretty dang good,” he said. “Beating Kingwood was a good win. There were definitely some good moments for sure.
“That being said, the first two weeks we get two practices and 20 matches. It’s not fun when you get your tails kicked like we did here tonight. I could schedule some cream-puff opponents, but that doesn’t get us ready to play Springs, Brook, Falls and everybody else from 24-6A.”
Miller said she believes Dawson can become more imposing.
“I think our biggest improvement would be to run a quicker offense because our block is really strong,” she said. “If our serve receive gets better, we can run our offense a little easier. Those are the two main things.
“We’re really, really talented, and this can be a strong team. We just need to continue to work hard.”