Add another sweep to the running total for the Chiles volleyball team.
Behind the effective attack of senior Lindsey Rogers and junior Kailey Harvell, the Timberwolves defeated Lincoln, 25-20, 25-13, 25-23, Thursday night to claim the District 2-7A title and advance to regional play as a top seed. Chiles is now 22-4 on the year and has swept its last nine opponents.
“It started from practice, it started from the preseason,” Timberwolves coach Kaitlin DiLuzio said. “We spend a lot of time on individual work and then bring it back together. I think that’s kind of set us apart from previous seasons.”
The sweep didn’t come without a little bit of grit. Chiles fell behind 12-6 in the third game, but DiLuzio refrained from huddling her team for a pep talk and instead let them battle.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had to fight from behind,” DiLuzio said. “Our last competition hasn’t really challenged us, so I told them I wasn’t going to call a timeout. They were going to have to work through it, and they did.”
Chiles responded behind Caroline Mooney’s service and timely kills from Rogers and Harvell. Finally tying the game at 20-20, it closed strongly. The Timberwolves will face District 2 runner-up Crestview next Tuesday in the first round of playoffs.
“We dug deep,” Rogers said. “I think it was a good challenge for us because the road to state is going to be hard, and we’re going to face games like that. It was great practice.”
Rogers, a Florida commit who missed her junior year with an injury, recorded 14 kills and 11 digs in the match. The result was step one in completing a stellar senior year.
“It was awesome,” Rogers said. “We’ve been working hard all season for this title, and it hasn’t been taken since 2005, so it’s a really great feeling to come out here and win.”
Harvell, who has committed to Georgia Tech, pounded home 18 kills and added 11 digs. Mooney scored three aces with 10 digs, while setter Alyssa Rudd dished out 38 assists and kicked in four aces of her own. Chiles knows it needs every contribution it can muster to eke out potentially tight wins as it prepares for a state tournament run.
“The close matches are energy battles,” Rogers said. “We need our bench to be loud. We’re working on our energy. We’ve been coasting energy-wise. We have the skill, we just have to get hyped.”
Lincoln (14-10) was led by Angel Solomon’s 15 kills and eight digs, while Katy Kuhlmeier slammed down eight kills.
“(Angel) had a pretty good game,” Lincoln coach Mariya Andonova said. “She’s improved a lot jumping, technically. I would say she’s grew up as a player mentally, too.”
Jasmine Asker had 15 assists for the Trojans, who have a first round-matchup against District 2 champion Niceville– an announcement that excited all of Lincoln’s team despite the loss to Chiles on the year.
“We have a really good rivalry with them, and play them at almost every tournament we go to,” Kuhlmeier said. “They’re just a good team, and it’s pretty evenly matched … We talk about team unity and fighting for each other. We’re an up-and-down team, for sure, but when we’re on, we’re on. We just need to come out energized.”