Gallery by Heather Belcher
Senior Night activities can often lead to sluggish play on the court. That was not the case for the Woodrow Wilson volleyball team Tuesday night.
Celebrating seven seniors in their final regular season home match, the Flying Eagles swept Princeton and Independence, 2-0.
“They were excited to play tonight, and they came ready to play,” Woodrow Wilson head coach Bre Rhodes said. “The girls did what they needed to do out there.”
In Woodrow Wilson’s opening match against Princeton, the Flying Eagles flexed their muscle in the person of seniors Elysia Salon and Olivia Ziolkowski.
Leading 12-9, Woodrow exploded on a 12-1 run to take the first set, 25-18. In set two, Ziolkowski’s block was followed by three straight kills from Salon. The 5-0 start was capped by an ace from Emily Gallaher and the Flying Eagles cruised to a 25-7 win over the Tigers.
Salon recorded 13 kills in the match, while Ziolkowski had six kills and five blocks to lead Woodrow.
A pair of aces from Sarah Bragg gave Independence a quick lead in its first set against the Flying Eagles, but the deficit would be short lived for Woodrow.
Trailing 13-11 after three ties and two lead changes, the home team hit yet another streak to change the momentum.
After a couple of unforced errors by the Patriots tied the set, a block and a tip from Ziolkowski gave Woodrow a lead it would never relinquish.
Kills from Salon and sophomore Saira Diehl as well as an ace from freshman Abby Dillon pushed Woodrow’s lead to 20-13.
To the Patriots’ credit, they never gave up and made a run that got them within four points of the lead. With all eyes on the Woodrow attackers, Dillon used a quick tip to find an open gap in the Indy defense.
“Abby just knows the game,” Rhodes said. “Having her in that setter position really helps. She knows when she needs to set, or bump, or push the back corner to get the point.”
Back-to-back kills from junior ZaMahya Moss and another pinpoint blast from Diehl gave Woodrow a 25-18 win.
“ZaMahya has come such a long way and she is only going to get better,” Rhodes said. “Saira has definitely stepped up for us on the right side. She plays that position well and she knows what she needs to do to keep the ball in play.”
Woodrow Wilson never trailed in set two but could not shake the Patriots early. That all changed on another dart from Diehl that sent the Flying Eagles on a 6-0 run to take a 19-10 lead.
Two more kills from Moss to go along with aces from seniors Abby Wooton and Tehya Smith gave Woodrow a 25-14 win.
“Everybody played well for us tonight. Independence is good. They will make a run to the state tournament,” Rhodes said. “We knew they would be good, so we were ready.”
In the opening match of the night, Independence dominated the visitors from Mercer County, 25-14 and 25-10.
Jaina Davis had six kills, while Alexis Stack and Bella Acord had three kills each in the opening match.
“We fought hard against a really good team in Woodrow, and we really played good in stretches,” Independence head coach Kevin Bragg said. “When you let balls drop and don’t take advantage against Woodrow, you will lose every time. We are getting better though, and this match will help us prepare for sectionals. We just have to believe.”