Lions sweep Chargers
Lincoln earns shot at Burrillville in semifinals
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.”
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.
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.