WILMINGTON — A now non-league rivalry that still brings energy to the gym, Wilmington outlasted Washington 25-22, 25-22, 15-25, 18-25, 16-14 Saturday at Fred Summers Court.
“I can’t say enough about our girls and the energy they brought to the floor in this match,” WHS head coach Jenna Persinger said. “It’s still early in the season. We have been emphasizing the importance of coming together as a team, building each other up and each girl focusing in on doing her job to the best of her ability for the team.”
The junior varsity posted a 26-24, 25-12 win in its match while the freshman Lady Hurricane lost in three, 25-27, 25-18, 25-12.
In the varsity match, it came down the final volley with WHS up 15-14.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve watched that clip over 50 times because there were so many things that could have happened differently for us,” Persinger said. “If Chay (Johns) doesn’t pass up the tip over our block, if Vanessa (Addison) doesn’t run a ball down in the deep corner and Mariah (Knowles) pop it back up into play, if Harlie (Bickett) doesn’t dig up the last attack by Brittany Wilson … if any one of those things don’t happen, momentum shifts and the game could have had a different outcome. It was so good to see us all come back together and get excited and just come back and fight and play and win.”
The Wilmington-Washington rivalry goes back nearly 50 years when the two were the pacesetters in the now-defunct South Central Ohio League.
“I knew going in this was going to be a tough match-up for us,” Persinger said. “Washington Court House is a very well-coached team with a lot of talent. When Rayana Burns is in the front row, it’s hard to stop her. We did our best to get a couple touches and even dug up a few of her hits, that showed a lot of heart in our girls. We had to do our best to score when she was off the floor. They serve very aggressively and their setter Hallie Wall does a nice job of moving the ball around.”
Wilmington went up 2-0 then Washington scored wins in the next two sets to tie the match.
“We got down a bit, started making unforced errors, communication dropped a bit,” the WHS coach said. “Going in to that fifth set, we just tried to get in our girls’ heads that they have to really understand if we want to do big things, we’ve got to play together as a team, we’ve got to use everyone of their strengths. Each and every girl contributed in that fifth set.”