PRAIRIE GROVE -- Fiercely competitive sets in home and away matches against Prairie Grove showcased the talents of Jessica Goldman, who earned All-Conference volleyball honors for Lincoln as a junior.
Prairie Grove Wins 3-0
In the first meeting at Prairie Grove, the Lady Tigers breezed through the first two sets, 25-14, 25-11, then had to work to hold off an improved Lincoln squad in the third set before winning 26-24.
In the first set Goldman pounded a kill for Lincoln, but Prairie Grove reached game-point on Chrysten Wetzel's dink-kill which took Lincoln by surprise. Averi Massey fought off a Lady Tiger hit and her dig went over and was not played keeping Lincoln alive, but the Lady Wolves were not ready for the next hit which hit the floor. Prairie Grove took game one, 25-14.
Junior Sophia Nunziato had a pair of kills and a decisive block-kill as the Lady Tigers dominated game two, jumping out to a 22-8 lead. Alisan Alexander set up Denise Martinez' game-winning kill to end game two with Prairie Grove ahead, 25-11.
The third set was a battle. Goldman's hitting helped Lincoln pull even at 4-4 and 5-5 after Prairie Grove took an early 4-2 lead. The Lady Wolves surged in front, 8-5, with a 6-1 run capped by Goldman's block-kill.
"Jessica is a great outside hitter," said Lincoln coach Lauren Merrick-Creed. "We discovered that's really her strength. We're trying to get more balls out there for her. She performs better out there."
Momentum then swung the other way with Prairie Grove fashioning a 9-3 run to capture a 14-11 advantage. Alexander had four aces during a streak of six straight lady Tiger points.
"Alisan Alexander has been our most consistent server probably the last two years," said Prairie Grove coach Mat Stewart. "We can count on her. She puts the ball where I tell her to and defensively she got us back in the set again."
In a see-saw battle, Lincoln went back in front aided by Lady Tiger hitting errors. Madison Jones' block-kill put Lincoln ahead, 16-14.
Lincoln continued to lead at 17-15 before Alexander's block-kill evened the score at 17-all. Prairie Grove retook the lead at 21-18, but Goldman broke their momentum with a kill. Martinez pounded a kill for a 23-19 lead. Merrick-Creed called time-out and the Lady Wolves regrouped.
Goldman served back-to-back aces to knot the score, at 23-23. A Prairie Grove violation put the Lady Wolves at game-point but a serve went long letting the Lady Tigers off the hook.
"That Goldman girl's good," Stewart said. "She's impressive. She not only hits well, she serves well.
Traylor (dig) and Wetzel (set) played catch with Traylor pounding a cross-court kill restoring Prairie Grove to the lead, at 25-24. Match-point was fiercely contested with several long volleys back and forth. At last Traylor's soft control tip landed and Prairie Grove claimed a sweep with a 26-24 victory in the third set.
"I've got a lot of great girls, but we didn't play the first two sets," Merrick-Creed said. "They showed a lot of grit coming back in that third game. We just got to start out from the git-go."
"We made some plays to get us back in the set to give us a chance to finish in three," Stewart said. "Lincoln is getting better and better. Coach Merrick(-Creed) does a really good job. They play really hard for her."
The clash on Sept. 19 at Prairie Grove came on the heels of a 25-6, 25-20, 25-8 loss for the Lady Tigers at Pea Ridge the night before and helped ease the sting of that blowout.
"We ran into a buzz-saw last night at Pea Ridge," Stewart said, saying the Lady Tigers played about as bad as they ever have since he's been at the helm.
Stewart was encouraged by the Lady Tigers' offensive mindset early. They broke away from an 8-8 tie in game-one by setting up their offense. Playing setter, Wetzel began finding hitters and they delivered. Sophomore Emily Traylor's third kill during a 10-2 Prairie Grove run sparked an 18-10 Lady Tiger advantage. Freshman Kennedy Conrad added a pair of kills and classmate Lexi Light contributed pushing the lead to 23-12.
"We did pretty well in the first two sets," Stewart said. "We passed well, got some good sets. We got to attack a little bit more than we did last night."
Lincoln Wins 3-0
The rematch at Lincoln Oct. 12 featured a complete reversal with the Lady Wolves sweeping Prairie Grove in three straight sets (27-25, 25-19, 25-20). Winning game one set the tone for Lincoln. The set was tied 17 times and there were nine lead changes.
Goldman's block-kill evened the first set at 7-7. Kinley Webb's ace followed by Madison Jone's kill gave Lincoln a 11-10 lead before Prairie Grove fashioned a 5-1 run to go up 15-12. Lincoln found Goldman down the stretch and she consistently came up with big hits. Goldman's kill and Jones' ace pushed Lincoln ahead, 18-16, but the next four points belonged to the Lady Tigers.
Nunziato served up a pair of aces, sandwiched around Traylor's kill sent Prairie Grove back in front, 20-18. Tanner Robb's block helped Lincoln stay even at 22-22. The game was tied again at 23 on a violation. Prairie Grove reached game-point on a kill, but Goldman pounded a cross-court kill to keep the Lady Wolves in the hunt. Hollie Webb brought Lincoln to game-point, at 25-34, catching the Lady Tigers by surprise by playing the ball over on a second hit.
A service violation extended the game. Sisters Kinley Webb (dig) and Hollie Webb (set) positioned Goldman for another go-ahead kill and Lincoln was once again playing for game-point with a 26-25 advantage. Goldman had two big hits in the last volley keeping Prairie Grove off-balance, then she added a block-kill for the finish with Lincoln winning 27-25.
The Lady Wolves were on a roll and they knew it. Hollie Webb knocked down a kill and Calico served an ace. Goldman's kill off the net staked Lincoln to an early 4-1 lead in the second set and Prairie Grove never recovered after losing game one. Lincoln took game two 25-19 and sealed the match with a 25-20 win in game three.Sports on 07/04/2018
Print Headline: Goldman Wins All-Conference Honors For Lincoln