By RYAN HERMAN
Lincolnton may have ended a string of futility, but East Lincoln ended the Wolves’ hopes of an upset.
Kali Krehnbrink had eight kills, Katelyn Nickols added nine and the Mustangs took down Lincolnton 3-1 in volleyball on Thursday.
The Wolves broke through in the second set, winning 26-24 for its first set win of the season. The victory tied the game 1-1 after East Lincoln rallied to take Set 1 at 25-23.
The set win ended a string of 25 consecutive sets without a win for Lincolnton (0-9, 0-6 Southern District 7 Athletic 2A), which gave East Lincoln all it could handle. But the Mustangs (4-3, 3-3) were too tough to tame.
“I think they saw their record. Of course our record is about the same, but I think they saw their record and underestimated them,” East Lincoln coach Stacy Possert said. “We’re in a tougher conference this year, so we have to play well against everybody.
“Play point-by-point, and that’s what we did today.”
Behind the attack of Krehnbrink, Nickols and Taylor Wilson, who had eight kills, East Lincoln fought off 57 errors and a pair of late Lincolnton rallies in the final two sets.
East Lincoln led 24-18 and had set serve before the Wolves reeled off six straight points to extend the third set.
A drop shot just over the net by Ashley Duncan made it 24-24, then Cassidy Whisnant placed two balls where the Wolves were not to go up 26-25 before taking the set 27-25.
East Lincoln jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth set –– the first time it had struck first to start a set –– before Lincolnton again rallied to tie it at 14. A pair of aces by Whisnant and a kill from Nickols separated the Mustangs with an 18-15 lead.
Back-to-back errors pulled Lincolnton to within one, but kills from Nickols and Krehnbrink and another Wolves error put it out of reach and the Mustangs won the set 25-19.
“Lincolnton was finding our holes out on the court. The girls just started hustling more and moving, getting in position and picking those balls up. They did a great job,” Possert said.
Nicole Arzuaga had a monster game for Lincolnton with six kills, three aces, six blocks and three digs. Sarah Greer added eight kills, two blocks and two digs, but individual performances and winning their first set of the season were not enough to get the Wolves over the hump.
They’ve come a long way since being shutout by North Lincoln to start the year, but still have a ways to go.
A “small change” in the lineup helped, Lincolnton coach Kathy-Jo Lindroth said.
“We realize we’ve got to work harder than we have been,” she said. “I’m proud of them for winning that one set, but we’ve got to win a game.”