The562’s coverage of Long Beach Volleyball in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Misty May-Treanor and the Dream in Gold Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The Moore League girls’ volleyball match between Wilson and Millikan on Thursday was certainly a game of runs, but in the clutch moments the Bruins were the more cohesive team as they ran away with a 22-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20 win.
The victory moves Wilson into second place in league, and drops Millikan into a tie for third place with Long Beach Poly.
“We went to Vegas this past weekend for the Durango Tournament and that trip really bonded us as a team,” Wilson libero Sydney Scott said. “Before that trip it was a little shaky and we weren’t all together. Today it really showed in our commitment to each other and commitment to this team and winning. Even when Millikan went on some runs we were able to band together and know that we could rely on each other.”
Scott led the Wilson defense with 12 digs and a pair of service aces while junior outside hitter Chloe Pravednikov put down a match-high 24 kills on 62 swings with two aces. Senior Allanah Smith filled the stat sheet with 20 kills and 13 digs for the Bruins. Middle blocker Emiya Green was in on four blocks.
“When we were taking the lead we were trying to minimize our errors and I think that really helped us,” Pravednikov said.
Thursday was also Senior Night at Wilson for a large class of Bruins, and the crowd was one of the biggest of the year.
“Playing in a high school gym, there’s nothing like it,” Scott said. “The energy we got from our drumline, cheerleaders and all of our sports teams that came out… When you play well it’s just the cherry on top. It’s about all of my senior teammates and I’m glad we were able to pull it out by picking up our energy at the end.”
The first set featured a handful of tied scores before Wilson pulled ahead, but Millikan went on a 5-0 run to tie the score again 17-17. A trio of strong kills from outside hitter Elle Lundahl gave the Rams a lead and two Wilson errors down the stretch earned Millikan a 25-22 win.
Lundahl and Aaliyah Fasavalu both had eight kills to lead the Millikan attack. Libero Brittany Mendoza had 10 digs.
The second set was full of errors by both teams. In fact, Wilson committed four errors in the first five points to fall behind. However, the Bruins bounced back and pulled even 10-10 with help from Millikan errors. The Rams started to pull away and led 17-13 when Pravednikov sparked a rally with a string of kills.
“She was almost unstoppable,” Wilson coach Gerald Aquiningoc said of Pravednikov. “(Millikan) has small opposites so that kind of helped us out.”
With the score tied 24-24 in the second set, a Pravednikov kill earned Wilson set point and an ace from Camille Agrupis gave the Bruins a 26-24 win to even things up.
“Spreading out our offense is key against a big block like they have, and then keeping them out of system was important,” Millikan coach Ashleigh Atsaros said. “That’s the key against these types of teams. When they’re out of system we can hop on them but I don’t think we did that enough in the second, third and fourth set.”
Once again the third set started with these two evenly matched teams trading points, but Wilson started to take hold of the proceedings by feeding Pravednikov and Smith. Consecutive kills from Smith gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t lose. Wilson led by as many as 21-12, and although Millikan made a furious comeback to fend off nine set points, Smith’s kill put the Bruins ahead 25-22.
“When we focus on our first ball contact, get in system and pass that ball into zone three we can run anything we want to with matchups,” Aquiningoc said. “We refocused on serve and receive and the rest took care of itself.”
Wilson led for almost the entire third set and took the victory 25-20 while riding the momentum and emotion of the night.
“We knew we had to win this game for our seniors even if we weren’t one,” the junior Pravednikov said. “It’s obviously going to mean a lot and they’re never going to forget this game.”
Wilson (15-9, 6-1) will face Jordan and Compton next week while Millikan (9-4, 4-3) takes on Compton and Cabrillo.