Lompoc High girls volleyball head coach Moni Thomas summed up the Thursday night Channel League contest against Santa Barbara in two words: Mental errors.
The Braves struggled on both sides of the ball, lost an early lead in the second set and never recovered against the Dons – falling in three sets with scores of 25-11, 25-23 and 25-11 at Paisola Pavilion inside Bryan Ayer Court.
The win improved the Dons to 5-9 overall and 2-1 in league. Lompoc, though, is now 1-2 in the Channel League; during its first season as a full-fledged member of the Channel League for all sports after years of participating in the Los Padres League.
And once again, Thomas categorized the night as one that saw lots of lapses in volleyball judgment from the Braves.
“Definitely mental errors – the passing was struggling, the setting was struggling so that makes our offense struggle,” Thomas said.
Lompoc received effort at the net from Bella Robles on offense and Esparanza Zepeda on the defensive side. Regarding the latter, though, as a unit, Thomas said she felt that area could’ve played at a different level compared to what she saw from courtside.
“Our defense was OK, but it could’ve been a little better,” Thomas said. “They weren’t anticipating the balls that were going long to be in. They were thinking that they were out, but they were in. They scored a lot of points on deep serves and deep hits.”
There was the sight of Braves players who saw the ball fly in the air, then call ‘Out’ thinking that the ball would fall out of bounds for a Lompoc point – but instead the ball would often stay inside the line; leading to both excited cheers from the Santa Barbara players and added points for the Dons.
The Dons never trailed in the first set, building an early 10-point lead and eventually pulling out the 14-point win. Set two was when the Braves showed their more competitive side with the volleyball.
Zepeda scored the first point by putting the ball over the net and watching it hit the Bryan Ayer Court floor. Robles then added the next point on her kill. Logan Blanco made it 3-0 off of her service ace.
But with LHS leading 4-0, the Dons responded by going on a 6-1 run to take a 6-5 lead. Lompoc found itself leading 17-14 late in the second set, but Santa Barbara took advantage of some more LHS miscues and delivered strong net play to outscore the Braves 11-6 the rest of the set.
Santa Barbara continued its momentum in the third and deciding set – jumping out to an early 10-1 lead and never let up.
Thomas, again, was disappointed in the flaws in decision making on the court by her team and left the game thinking the Braves could’ve taken Santa Barbara to five sets.
“If they would’ve played like they did that second game, I think we would’ve had a chance,” Thomas said. “I told them that they were just as good as they were. If they played with that intensity from the second match, we would’ve won. But I don’t know – they just let themselves get down.
“They were not moving their feet, they were not talking, they were not going for the balls and it was like they were just staring. And I tell my girls to go in and play your best. You guys are good players. You know what to do. Just do your game. Play your game, and you guys will win. But they weren’t here tonight. I don’t know why.”
Lompoc returns home to face Dos Pueblos in Channel League action at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.