Pirates beat Spartans in thriller
Wheatland High's volleyball team outlasted host East Nicolaus on Thursday, needing five games to do it.
The Pirates improved to 4-1 on the season with the 19-25, 25-9, 25-17, 21-25, 15-11 triumph. The Spartans fell to 1-3 with the loss.
“I felt we were playing against the refs and the other team,” Wheatland coach Lyndsay Nelson said. “Our players were down because they felt they had to battle the refs too.”
With the match on the line, the Pirates turned to Miah Hill.
“She's our powerhouse,” Nelson said of Hill. “She dominates with her hitting and her presence on the court.”
Hill finished the game with 11 kills, three tips, two blocks and an ace. She got Wheatland rolling in the fifth game when she placed a dink perfectly on the floor to open the set. Later, with the Spartans threatening, Hill slammed a spike off the floor for a 13-8 Pirate lead.
After East Nicolaus' Kayla Ledford tipped a soft shot for a point and Alyssa Smotherman launched an unreturned serve to pull the Spartans to within three, 14-11, Hill ended the game with a thundering kill that the Spartans could only bump into the net.
“I'm glad we pulled it out,” Nelson said, adding the Pirates needed the five-set win after dropping a five-set heartbreaker the night before to Marysville.
Nelson admitted she thought the Pirates would win after dominating the second game for a 16-point victory.
“We dropped our intensity in the second and third games,” East Nicolaus coach Jennifer Turner said. “I really believe if we had kept our intensity, we would have won the match.”
The Spartans captured the first game behind the net play of Alyse Uhland and Hannah Twichell, who each had three kills and a tip.
In the second game, Wheatland capitalized on two aces by Rebecca Green and Tiffany Baldwin and one by Melanie Embry to coast to victory. In the third set, Green added three more aces, while Hill had four kills and Shazakia Poe-Lyde downed three.
East Nicolaus avoided elimination in the fourth game behind two kills from both Uhland and Ann Wimple, and solo spikes from Twichell and Madison Rivera. But Hill and the Pirates regrouped in the fifth set to post the win.
Besides Hill's dominating performance at the net, Poe-Lyde finished the match with 10 kills, a block and an ace. Green finished the match with five aces, two blocks and three tips.
Shara Courtright had six kills and two aces. Shannon DeMello had three blocks and a kill, and Tiffany Baldwin had two aces and two blocks.
Uhland finished with seven kills, two tips, an ace and a block to lead the Spartans. Twichell had five kills, three tips and an ace. Ledford had five kills and two tips, DeMello had four kills and a tip, and Alyssa Smotherman had two kills, four tips and two aces.
“I'm really proud of my girls,” Turner said. “They keep improving with each game. By the time league rolls around, I think we'll be pretty unstoppable.”