Aynsley Kauffman

Cambridge right side hitter Aynsley Kauffman hits around the block of Deerfield junior Ashlee Ballmoos during the first set Thursday.

DEERFIELD — The Cambridge girls volleyball team clawed its way back from six-point deficits in each of the first two sets, but rival Deerfield was able to close it out with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-17 victory in non-conference play Thursday night.

The Blue Jays fell behind 12-4 in the opening set before working it back to 19-17, but after a Demon timeout, host Deerfield scored four straight points to take back control of the set.

“We don’t respond well to the negative runs,” Cambridge coach Brett Anderson said. “They make some plays or we make some errors, and it’s just tough for us to recover, so that’s been a big focus of ours. I do feel like we’re getting better.”

The Blue Jays (1-6) and Demons (6-3) played evenly in the second set as senior libero Ashlynn Jarlsberg recorded her only ace to pull into an 8-8 tie. The Demons jumped ahead with a 6-0 run capped by an Amber Ott back-row kill and a double hit on Cambridge.

Blue Jays senior Gracie Korth had an ace and a kill to bring Cambridge back within five points before consecutive errors handed the set to the Demons.

A seven-point deficit in the third and final set proved too much to overcome despite the Blue Jays making a game out of it with Korth’s back-row kill and a Deerfield hitting error. Cambridge could not get closer than three points before Deerfield middle Ashlee Ballmoos’ six block of the match shut the Blue Jays down for good.

“We played three 80 percent sets, and I just want to get over that hump,” Anderson said. “We’re so close it hurts.”The Demons picked up their second consecutive victory in the annual rivalry match.

Ballmoos finished with eight kills and controlled the play at the net on both sides after coach Jessie Backes lined up her rotations with Korth’s in an attempt to stymie Cambridge’s top scoring threat.

“She’s our rising star for one thing. She’s also kind of our hidden treasure because not a lot of people know about her yet, and she’s getting better,” Backes said. “She’s kind of our gold star right now. Any time we need a kill, we just put it in Ashlee’s hands, and she does it for us.”Korth led the Blue Jays with nine kills and an ace, while Jarlsberg added 12 digs and an ace.

Maria Higgins led the Demons with 12 digs, while Olivia Tatlock recorded 17 assists.

Cambridge travels to New Glarus for a Capitol South Conference matchup on Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.

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