The Airline Lady Vikings handed the Calvary Lady Cavs their first loss of the season Thursday evening at Airline.
Airline won the first set 25-20 and the second 25-23. Calvary rallied to win the third 25-19. The Lady Vikings then won a nailbiter fourth set, taking it 28-26 on their fourth match point. Airline also saved one set point down 26-25.
The Lady Vikings improved to 13-5 with their 10th victory in the last 12 matches. The Lady Cavs dropped to 16-1. Only once this season had District 6-V champion Calvary even been taken to five sets, a victory over Benton on Oct. 16.
“It was a great game tonight,” Airline head coach Regina Digilormo said. “Volleyball is a game of adapting and responding to failure and adversity as a team. The response has to be quick, because the next serve is coming at you. We just constantly tell our players to stay in the present moment and focus on what you need to do to win that point and not make the moment too big.”
The first set was tight. Ahead 20-19, Airline won five of the next six points.
The Lady Vikings took an early 7-3 lead in the second. But the Lady Cavs upped their game, going on a 14-3 run for a 17-9 lead.
Still trailing 22-15, Airline mounted a rally of its own. The Lady Vikings won nine straight points with Ariana Wilkinson serving to go ahead 24-22 then closed out the set after Calvary got within one.
After Calvary pulled within a set, Airline jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the fourth. The Lady Vikings seemed in control at 17-9, but the Lady Cavs steadily cut into the lead and eventually went ahead 22-21.
Airline evened the match on a winner to the back corner of the court. The Lady Vikings then won the next two points to earn two match points at 24-22.
But Calvary won back-to-back points to tie. Airline had another match point at 25-24 but couldn’t convert. Then the Lady Cavs won two straight and had a chance to even the match, but Airline won the point on a service error.
The Lady Vikings went ahead on a kill by Jaci Ervin. Airline won the final point after the ball fell between two Lady Cavs at the net following the serve.
Lexi Danard led the Lady Vikings in kills with 13. She also had two digs.
Wilkinson had a double-double with 17 digs and 15 assists. She added three aces and three kills.
Ervin had eight kills and 20 digs. She also had three blocks, three aces and two assists
Makayla Casares had 21 digs and one assist.
All the Lady Vikings contributed to the victory whether it was getting a pressure serve in, keeping a point alive, setting up a kill, or winning a point with a kill or well-placed shot.
Even though it was a home match, it sometimes felt like the road with Calvary having a big student section. That was fine with Digilormo.
“Calvary brought a huge crowd/student section that tried to shake us,” she said. “Honestly, I was glad for that opportunity. It forced our girls to maintain focus through the noise. Great practice for a possible away playoff game.”
Airline has three matches left on its regular-season schedule. According to geauxpreps.com, the Lady Vikings are No. 14 in the Division I power rankings that determine playoff seedings.