It seemed like an even match for much of the night, but in the end, Lewiston needed only three sets to overcome visiting nonleague foe Clarkston in a volleyball border battle Thursday at Booth Hall.
The Bengals prevailed 27-25, 25-19, 25-23. The teams traded leads repeatedly in each set, but Lewiston finished stronger in all three.
Clarkston led 4-0 to start the first and had chances to go up a set with leads of 24-23 and 25-24, only for Lewiston to reel off the final three points. The Bengals had a five-point run at 20-19 to take the second, then in the third, they won five of the final six points to seal the victory after trailing 22-20.
“We just need to find the momentum at the beginning of the game,” Lewiston coach Mandi Hare said..
In the end, Lewiston’s success finishing balls off at the net proved decisive. Julia Dickeson led the Bengals with 11 kills and seven blocks.
“We really try to keep an uptempo offense no matter who we’re playing,” Hare said. “If people give us a free ball, it’s really our job to put it away. We were working on our free ball plays today, and just putting the ball away every opportunity we got.
“It was really nice to see the hometown crowd come out and support (us). We had a really good student section today.”
An energetic group of several dozen Lewiston youths stood almost continuously during the match. A chant of “I ... believe ... we ... will ... win!” rang out from the Lewiston ranks during a timeout as the Bengals led 23-22 in the final set.
When play resumed, an unreturned serve brought the Bengals to match point at 24-22. With their team on the brink of victory, the Bengal fan base uncharacteristically sat down. Clarkston was able to save one match point in a heated rally before a Bantam serve sailed long to seal Lewiston’s win, bringing the fans back to their feet.
Megan Halstead had 20 assists, and Ellie Uhling provided the Bengals with 11 digs.
For Clarkston, Katie Kaufman had four kills and four aces on 16-of-18 serving.
“Our team’s working on consistency this year — just playing our game no matter who’s on the other side of the court,” Hare concluded. “There’s definitely some things we need to work on, but it was a good win for our program.”
Clarkston coach Adam Van Vogt had similar takeaways for his own team.
“I love how for the majority of the night, we competed and competed hard and didn’t back down from key moments,” he said. “I’ve said it to my girls all along; we’ve just got to work on consistency. We’re breaking in a lot of new pieces from a year ago, so to start with a game of this magnitude for them so early in our season and play pretty consistent most of the night bodes well for us moving forward.”