LOCKPORT – After starting the season 11-3, Lockport’s girls volleyball team was a little down after losing four in a row.
The Porters hoped to end their recent slump at home against Lincoln-Way Central on Thursday, but the Knights weren’t going to make it easy.
After Central got a narrow win in the second set and then took a pair of leads late in the third set, Lockport stepped up down the stretch and won eight of the final nine points to pull out a 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 SouthWest Suburban Conference victory.
“They’re a very strong defensive team, and they were making a lot of plays and were scrappy,” Porters coach Nick Mraz said about coach Mary Brown’s Knights. “I just have to give credit to my girls for not letting that frustrate them too much since we weren’t hitting too well, and part of the reason was them picking stuff up, and maybe we were thinking too much.
“I was happy to see us respond in the third set when it’s 18-18, and it was great to see them push it toward the end. We talked about righting the ship. There’s going to be problems throughout the year, and we’ve had some people who are banged up. We were in a little bit of a lull, so it was good to see us bounce back and rise up when they were pushed.”
The Knights used a kill by Katie Barry (nine kills, eight digs) and a Porters hitting error to go up, 18-17, in the third set. But after a hitting error tied the match, Lockport (12-7) got six straight service points from Cameryn DeBlecourt (11 assists), which featured two kills from Taylor Morgan (seven kills, three blocks) and an ace, giving them a 24-18 lead.
Other leaders for the Porters included Leena Ajibola (six kills), Nadia Goich (five kills, two blocks), Dovile Gorys (13 assists), Ellie Anselmo (18 digs) and Morgan Schmutzler (14 digs).
“Our defense really stepped up,” Anselmo said. “The energy and excitement that we get when we have real big plays just changes the whole mentality of the game. I like our team and how no one blames anyone for a play. We’re always there to pick each other up. If we see someone with their heads down, we’ll do our best to pick them up.”
In the second set, the Knights went ahead, 15-11, after five straight service points from Nicole Ramirez (17 assists, nine digs), but the Porters later took a 22-21 lead. But Central got kills from Rachel Kolodziej (five kills, three blocks), Brooke Rush and Layne Stevens (five kills, three blocks) down the stretch to force a third set. Brooke Condon led the Knights with 19 digs and passed at a .282 rate.
“After losing the last four games, it was good to come out here and get a win, and it’s definitely a morale boost, so this was important,” Schmutzler said. “I just love how close we are. We’ve stayed together and grown from our losses. We came out here and fought and definitely were together as a team.”