Lions sweep Charg­ers

Lin­coln earns shot at Bur­ril­lville in semi­fi­nals

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By JON BAKER jbaker@paw­tuck­et­times.com

LIN­COLN – Last Thurs­day night, Lin­coln coach Kyle Medeiros and a cou­ple of his Lions made the trek down to Wood River Junc­tion to scout Char­iho’s Se­nior Night reg­u­lar-sea­son clash against Bur­ril­lville.

He did so “know­ing full well” that his squad could face both teams in the Divi­sion II tour­na­ment over the next week.

“What I saw from Char­iho was a lot of scrappy play and some strong swing­ing from their two out­stand­ing hit­ters (in­clud­ing sopho­more Jas­mine Bab­bitt and ju­nior Kate Pow­ers),” Medeiros re­called. “Those girls were both very good in that match, but I also picked up a cou­ple of things on the serve-re­ceive that we po­ten­tially could take ad­van­tage of.”

He didn’t go into de­tail as to what those “things” were; what coach in his right mind would? At the same time, he ex­pressed ela­tion at his sec­ond-seeded (in II-A) Lions coast­ing to a 3-0 shutout tri­umph over the Charg­ers (ranked third in Divi­sion II) be­fore well over 200 fans at the mid­dle school gym­na­sium on Fri­day night.

“I was most happy about the fact the girls weren’t in­tim­i­dated by be­ing in the play­offs, the play­off at­mos­phere,” stated Medeiros, whose con­tin­gent fin­ished its pre­vi­ous cam­paign with­out such a bid due to a 4-10 reg­u­lar-sea­son cam­paign. “For most of them, this was their first-ever post­sea­son match, but they treated it as just an­other match.

“The girls ex­e­cuted the game plan we had de­signed in prac­tice the past few days per­fectly,” he added. “In essence, it was to take away their best two hit­ters – and get them to move out of their usual sys­tem of serve-re­ceive.”

The Lions did a stel­lar job of both dur­ing the sim­plis­tic 25-6, 25-15, 25-20 vic­tory, and that’s why they now sit at 18-1 over­all. They’re also cur­rently pre­par­ing to take on Divi­sion II-B cham­pion Bur­ril­lville in a semi­fi­nal show­down set for some­time Tues­day evening at North Kingstown.

Ju­nior out­side hit­ter Olivia Wodogaza paced LHS with nine kills, two blocks and a pair of aces, while se­nior Laila Mostello-Wether­bee chipped in eight digs and seven spikes; se­nior co-cap­tain/mid­dle blocker Ni­cole Le­zon had four kills and four blocks; fel­low co-cap­tain Emma Gianetti had three kills, three blocks and two aces; sopho­more Lexi Wal­ters pro­duced nine digs; se­nior set­ter Vic­to­ria Ryan had 24 as­sists and two aces; class­mate Emma Nav­il­liat six digs and three aces; and ju­nior Han­nah Scher­mer­horn three kills.

Char­iho closed its sea­son at 14-6 over­all, de­spite Pow­ers’ nine digs and six kills; Bab­bitt’s two spikes; and ju­nior Jess LaVal­ley’s 11 digs.

“We just didn’t show up, and I don’t know why,” of­fered dis­ap­pointed head coach Cathy Ful­ford after­wards. “I wish you could have seen us when we beat North Smith­field on Thurs­day night. We were re­ally good.

“This wasn’t us, not at all.”

The Lions dom­i­nated from the very be­gin­ning, as Ryan served up six straight points to give the hosts the 7-0 lead in the first set. Wodogaza fol­lowed with four more after a side­out, and – when Gianetti tacked on an­other seven points from be­yond the stripe to lift LHS to a 20-2 cush­ion.

Bab­bitt posted a pair of points on her ser­vice to slice it to 20-5, yet Mostello-Wether­bee took over fol­low­ing an­other side­out, and a Le­zon spike, Mostello-Wether­bee ace and Le­zon block sealed the win at 25-6.

Lin­coln be­gan the sec­ond game much like it had the first, cour­tesy of four straight ser­vice points from Ryan, though the Charg­ers cut it to 5-4 after Scher­mer­horn’s block went into the net­ting. Gianetti re­sponded with four points off her serve, and the Lions built that 11-4 ad­van­tage into an 18-10 cush­ion.

Medeiros’ crew even­tu­ally rolled to a 2515 fin­ish.

As for the match fi­nale, LHS jumped out to leads of 3-1, 9-6 and 11-8, but Char­iho con­tin­ued to fight back. It tied the set for the sev­enth time at 17-all after Bab­bitt’s wicked block, though Casey Mastin’s next serve ro­tated into the net, and Gianetti’s pow­er­ful spike in­sti­gated Ryan’s three-point ser­vice and pushed the lead to 21-17.

Again, though, the Charg­ers didn’t quit. When Wodogaza’s kill try flew into the net, they sliced the gap to 21-20, and seemed poised for the third-game win. Wodogaza nev­er­the­less played the role of hero­ine, is­su­ing a pair of aces on the fi­nal three points.

When asked if he could be­lieve his team had played that well in its’ first en­deavor into the state tour­na­ment, Medeiros grinned, then said, “Could I imag­ine it? No, but did I know my girls were ca­pa­ble of play­ing such a match? Ab­so­lutely.”

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Lin­coln se­nior out­side hit­ter Olivia Wodogaza (15) de­liv­ers a point for the No. 2 Lions dur­ing their Divi­sion II quar­ter­fi­nal sweep of Char­iho. The Lions will face No. 1 Bur­ril­lville in the semi­fi­nals.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Lin­coln se­nior mid­dle hit­ter Ni­cole Le­zon (6) blocks a Char­iho free ball dur­ing the No. 2 Lions’ sweep of the No. 3 Charg­ers in the Divi­sion II quar­ter­fi­nals Fri­day night at Lin­coln Mid­dle School.

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