Vikings top Lancers in five setsPublished 10:53pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The message for the Niles volleyball team as it prepared to take the court for the fifth and deciding set Wednesday as simple.
First-year Vikings’ coach Jenny Nate told her team to win.
“I told them to push, finish it,” she said. “This is our house.”
The Vikings looked early on as if it was going to make quick work of visiting Lakeshore. However, the Lancers rallied, took control for the middle two sets, but couldn’t keep Niles from pulling out a 3-2 Big 16 Conference West Division victory.
“The last 24 hours have been like that with Mishawaka,” Nate said. “We kind of got off our game the last 24 hours. We talked a lot today about what we have to do as a team. We are coming out at about 85 percent intensity and control. That other percentage is hurting us. But like tonight, I knew we were going to get it because we had come so close so many times.”
In the opening set, after the two teams battled back and forth, it appeared that the Vikings had seized control.
Niles built up a 21-11 advantage, but was unable to maintain control of the set. The Vikings dominated the net behind the play of Miranda Baker and Ashley Love.
But when Baker went to the bench following a side out, the Lancers suddenly caught fire. Behind the serving of Rachel Lange, Lakeshore roared back and caught the Vikings at 21-21 on a hitting error.
Lange served up nine consecutive points during the run, including a couple of aces.
After a side out and Kierra Fillwock’s kill made it 23-21, Niles committed another hitting error, which tied the set at 23-23.
Another hitting error gave the first set to the Lancers 25-23.
It was Lakeshore, which was dominant at the net in the second set.
The Lancers used the strong arm of softball standout Haley Thibeault to take a 2-0 lead. Thibeault’s three consecutive kills to end the second set gave Lakeshore all the momentum heading into what turned out not to be the final set.
After falling behind 8-3, Niles was able to rally as Baker and Love once again found their stroke.
After knotting the set at 8-8 on a Baker block, the Vikings and Lancers went back and forth. The set would be tied five more times, including 23-23.
A Love kills made it 24-23 and then a lift called on the Lancers at the net gave the 25-23 win to Niles.
The Vikings road the powerful arm of Love in the fourth set to tie the match at 2-2 with a 25-18 victory.
The Vikings built a 10-5 lead before the Lancers rallied to tie the set at 16-16 thanks to four consecutive hitting errors.
Errors by Lakeshore helped Niles reclaim the lead and when Love crushed a Cortney Shirrell set, the Vikings had forced a fifth and deciding set.
Niles grabbed an early 5-3 lead on a kill by Baker.
The lead reached 8-4 before a tip kill by Lakeshore’s Taylor Joachim started a Lancer comeback.
The set was tied at 8-8, but three straight errors by the Lancers gave Niles an 11-8 lead it would never relinquish.
Lakeshore was able to trim the lead to 11-1 before Love delivered a kill and Fillwock followed with two more kills to put the Vikings on the brink of victory.
Fillwock then finished off Lakeshore with a kill.
Love, who finished with 19 kills, said that teamwork was the difference.
“It’s a team sport and when someone is down we kind of all get down,” she said. “But then we bring ourselves back up. It’s the best experience ever.”
Love added that Nate gave the team the confidence it needed to win.
“She told us it was our game,” Love said. “She said we needed to fight through and we knew what to do in order to win this game. We needed to play our game.”
Niles d. Lakeshore 3-2
Miranda Baker 24
Ashley Love 19
Kierra Fillwock 13
Lashonda Greene 10
Maggie Hoff 12
Kelsey Barton 4
Cortney Shirrell 54