It was a highly anticipated night in the Lions’ Den as the varsity volleyball team would face Aquinas in the Ambassador League second place showdown match. The Lions honored their seniors prior to the match. Once the flowers and gift baskets were put away, the Lions went to work, beginning set one with an 8-3 lead. The Falcons slowly crept up off a few Linfield errors to bring the lead within two. Both teams exchanged control of the momentum, but Linfield never lost the lead. Aquinas earned an ace to tie the game at 20-20, forcing Linfield to call timeout. Lions’ MB Alaina Tucker put two points on the scoreboard with back-to-back kills after the break, leaving Aquinas to call timeout. Unlike Tucker, the Falcons were unable to halt the Lions’ momentum as senior OH Kelly Rausch served three aces in row to win set one 25-20.
Rausch was not done with the Falcon’ serve receive yet, serving six aces to give the Lions a 10-2 lead to start the second set. Aquinas would only get within two of the lead the remainder of the set as Linfield senior OH Makenzie Phelps pushed the pace to earn three of the Lions’ final six points off swings. Linfield went on to win set two 25-17. Together, Rausch and Phelps combined for 15 of the Lions’ 25 points; Rausch with 7 aces, 3 kills, and Phelps with 5 kills.
The Falcons made some adjustments in their lineup to come out full force in set three, capitalizing on the Lions’ errors. Linfield struggled to gain any momentum and never saw the lead, as Aquinas secured set three 25-17. Linfield led set four up until 23-23 when Aquinas tipped for the easy kill, and Phelps had the unfortunate hitting error. The game ended 23-25 in Aquinas’ favor and tied the match 2-2.
Aquinas carried that momentum into game five without missing a beat. The Lions trailed 3-8 and when it looked like all hope was lost, junior MB Paige Williams scored with two tip to kills, and Phelps followed with another kill for the three-peat to put the Lions within 2 and forcing an Aquinas time-out. Williams and Phelps would combine yet again, with a block by Williams, followed by a kill from Phelps to tie 8-8. Lions’ junior OH Sarah Newman made sure that momentum stayed on Linfield’s side, serving an ace to give the Lions their first lead of set five at 10-9. Rausch did one better, tooling the block for the kill, leading to another Aquinas time-out. Rausch would earn her final kill of the night at 12-10, and the Lions would ride the Falcons’ errors for the 15–11 finish and the match victory!
Rausch earned the double-double with 11 aces and 16 kills, while junior libero Sam Hohulin tallied 22 digs and 5 aces. Junior setter Devin Sivertson had 40 assists on the night, surpassing the 1,500 career assists mark.
This is the first time that Linfield has defeated Aquinas in the Ambassador League since joining in 2010. The Lions secured second place in league and will advance to CIF-SS playoffs next week. They will conclude Ambassador league play at Western Christian on Thursday, October 11th.