Wilson was thinking about more than revenge after falling to Lincoln in the Rams’ home gym earlier this season. They simply needed the win in the rematch to stay in the district playoff chase.
The Abes provided a stiff challenge again, but the Rams outlasted Lincoln in five sets on Oct. 8, coming away with a 25-20, 8-25, 25-15, 12-25, 15-12 win.
“This is such a big win for them,” said Wilson first-year head coach Jackie Mullen. “We talked about it a lot leading up (to today). I really just want to build on this and keep winning in the second round of league play.”
The Rams charged out to a 7-2 lead in the decisive fifth game, as Kiara Knox collected two of her team-high nine kills during the stretch and Nia Hudson added two kills as well.
Lincoln climbed back to take a 9-8 lead on a tip over by Tamia Braggs, but Rams captain Savana Smith responded with two kills in the span of four points to give the Rams the led for good at 12-10. They finally claimed the match when a Lincoln return fell just out of bounds with Wilson up 14-12.
Momentum swings were a common theme, as the Rams charged out to a 12-4 lead in the first game before seeing the Abes claw back to within 17-15 on senior captain Lyric Jones’ brilliant return.
The Abes responded in the second game, using a 14-0 run to take a commanding 22-6 lead.
Lincoln libero Leea Jones dominated from the serving stripe in the set, collecting five of her team-high seven aces in a stretch of seven points. The freshman was flying all over the backcourt all night, constantly saving points for the Abes and putting up a game-high 22 digs.
“That girl is the best libero I’ve seen in our league in eight years, at least,” said Lincoln head coach Steve Johnson. “She is without question the best libero I’ve ever coached.”
But Wilson answered right back with a 17-5 stretch in the third game to establish a 20-11 lead, as Knox had three kills and Sarah Schroeder had two of the Rams’ four aces in the period.
“We worked on finding the holes in their defense and really capitalizing on that,” Mullen said.
Lincoln took an early 6-1 lead in the fourth set and never looked back after two aces by junior Viane Tran. Braggs’ kill later gave the Abes an insurmountable 18-7 lead, and Lyric Jones – who who finished with nine kills and nine digs – closed the game with an ace.
But the back-and-forth theme continued, as the Rams grabbed the quick lead in the final game and held off the Abes’ charge.
Smith finished with six kills for the Rams, while Natalie Millsap had four aces and
Schroeder tallied 23 assists and eight digs. Braggs had six kills for the Abes, while Bedanys
Rivera had nine assists and seven digs.
The Rams improved to 2-5 in league play with the win, while the Abes still maintained playoff positioning at 3-4, with five more matches to play.
“As long as we learn from the loss, and get better from that, than I’m good with that,” Johnson said.