Almost nothing could separate Lincoln Christian and Lincoln Lutheran on Tuesday night as two of Class C-1’s top volleyball teams battled it out.
The No. 8 Crusaders (7-3) hung tight for the entire match but couldn’t quite overcome the No. 2 Warriors (3-1), who won 25-20, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22 at Lutheran.
Perhaps the only thing separating the two sides was the performance of Lutheran outside hitter Marriah Buss, who recorded 32 kills and powered the Warriors to victory.
“Besides the stats that show she had 32 kills, she’s a competitor and you know that she’s going to give it her all until the end,” Lincoln Lutheran coach Sue Ziegler said after the match.
It was important for the Warriors to get Buss going early and they did, with the senior leading a comeback from down 18-15 to an eventual 25-20 first-set victory. She even added a couple aces on the night, although she didn’t match libero Lexie Kreizel’s five as the Warriors combined for 10.
A good run by Lincoln Christian helped the Crusaders storm back to take the second set, as Lincoln Lutheran couldn’t convert two opportunities to take a commanding two-set lead.
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There were no signs of missed opportunities in the third set as Buss continued to whip ball after ball across the net, eventually giving the Warriors a 24-20 lead. It shrank to 24-23, but freshman Abby Wachal delivered the set-winning kill, one of six for her on the night.
The Warriors appeared ready to run away with the match in the fourth set, charging out to a 17-9 lead, but Lincoln Christian continued to battle as it had all night.
“We were hanging in there, but we were playing from behind, especially in that last set,” Lincoln Christian coach Vikki Power said. “It gets hard to battle back, but I was proud of our fight and that we didn’t give up.”
Lutheran's eight-point lead dwindled all the way to one at 23-22, but a kill from Buss pointed things back in Lutheran's direction and the Warriors finished it off one play later.
Winners of three straight, the Warriors will head to the Malcolm Invitational this weekend as they look to keep their spot among the best in Class C-1.