Wilson looked like a new team while sweeping Long Beach Poly in Moore League girls’ volleyball action on Tuesday 25-15, 25-21, 25-21. The Bruins used superior service and defense to dominate the visiting Jackrabbits and leap into second place in the league standings.
“That’s a big confidence booster for the girls,” Wilson coach Gerald Aquiningoc said. “They’re trusting the process and working super hard at practice. This is the fruit of the labor we’ve been putting in.”
Wilson junior Allanah Smith filled up the stat box with eight kills, nine digs, five aces and four blocks. She and Aquiningo both said that studying the film from their loss to Poly last month helped the Bruins reinvent themselves midseason.
“We put in a lot of hard work these last couple of weeks after we lost to (Poly) the first time,” Smith said. “I think we were really determined to win and I think that’s why we showed out today.”
“One day before practice we said, ‘Look, we’re not going to let other teams out serve and pass us. We will not let other teams out dig us,’ and everybody vowed and signed a piece of paper and that’s what we’re doing now,” Aquiningo said.
Wilson set the tone early with seven service aces in the first set, and kept Poly on its heels with 14 aces in the match. The Bruins also had seven blocks.
“I have a really bad rotator cuff so I don’t know how I was serving like that today,” Smith laughed after the match. “We do work a lot on our serves and it showed. Everything we’ve worked on really showed today on the court.”
Wilson also got six kills on six attempts from Chloe Pravednikov in the first set to take an early lead. The sophomore finished with a match-high 11 kills.
“Just having multiple attackers and a true threat on the outside makes it so (our opponent) can’t camp out or double block,” Aquiningo said. “We just have so many options now and our offense can do so many things. Other teams can’t get a read on us.”
The second set was tied 12-12 when Wilson went on a 6-1 run sparked by back-to-back big kills from Smith.
“We’re making the offense go faster and we’re committed to being better on defense,” Aquiningo said. “We were running down balls and changing momentum tonight.”
Poly opened up an 8-3 lead in the third set thanks to an active Adonia Faumuina who finished with nine kills. Wilson was able to turn the tide thanks to a handful of Jackrabbit errors, and then the Bruins defense came up big late in the set to hold on for the 25-21 victory to secure the sweep.
The last point of the match came on a Smith ace. The junior, who was a late addition to the Wilson roster this season, said she’s thrilled to be back.
“I’m so stoked to be on the court, I love it with all my heart and this is my favorite sport,” Smith said. “We need to keep a positive attitude and just keep giving our all in practice. We need to always be determined and humble.”
Wilson (20-10, 8-2) has a rescheduled game against first-place Lakewood on Saturday night, and first-year coach Aquiningo said his team doesn’t want to just be happy with a second place finish.
“We want to beat Lakewood,” he said. “I didn’t come here to get second or third, I came to take first. Hopefully we can play them like this on Saturday night and compete.”
Poly finishes the regular season with matches against Compton and Cabrillo.