Lincoln ends season on a winning note

Zebras beat Center 3-2
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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ANTELOPE – The Center High girls volleyball team was not going to go down without a fight, but the Lincoln Fighting Zebras had plans to go out as winners – and did.

On the Cougars’ home court, the Zebras came from behind to defeat Center 3-2: 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 25-21 and 15-10, Thursday.

“By far, the best team that I’ve ever had the joy of coaching. Each and every one of them has a special place in my heart. I get emotional talking about it,” Lincoln head coach Betty Zamora said, fighting back tears. “But they’re a great group of girls and I could not be more pleased with their performance this entire season. The good times, the bad times, we fight through it together. We’re just one, big happy family.”

In the fifth and final set, Lincoln and Center traded points until Dallas Atchley put the Zebras up 6-3 with a kill. After a Cougars’ timeout, things went from bad to worse for the Cats when Atchley put Lincoln up 7-4 with another kill.

Three errors later, Center was down 9-5. But the Cougars rallied to pull within three. Still, errors continued to plague Center and a kill by Lincoln’s Yoselin Rodriguez boosted the Zebras lead to 12-8.

A couple more errors forced a Cougars timeout trailing 14-8. The Cougars came out for two more scores capped by Parneet Hayer’s kill, but a touching error on a ball out sealed the win for Lincoln 15-10.

After taking the first set 25-19, the Zebras started the second set in low gear and fell behind 10-1. They battled back to within one before falling 25-21.

Set three did not go better, trailing by as much as seven points and eventually losing by five to trail Center 2-1.

“It doesn’t matter who won those first two games, we’ve just got to start fresh this game and we just have to come out with a new mentality,” said Zamora as to how she addressed the situation to her players. “It was just a matter of telling them what they need to hear and encourage, be supportive and let them know that their mistakes are not going to hurt us. We just have to work together as a team.”

Taking those words to heart, the Zebras evened the match by winning the fourth set and using that momentum to take set five and the match.

Atchley and Brooke Stokes combined for 14 kills, Makayla Franco had five and Jessica Haskins and Rodriguez had four each. Setting them up with assists were Makayla Price (13), Sammie Crowell (7) and Tonie Leech (5).

Price led in serving with 18 (six aces), Franco 17 (3), Jacqueline Thompson 11 (2) and Rodriguez 10 (1). Taylor Penstein led in serves received with 15, Thompson had 11, and Emma Bartlett and Devinn Tafoya each had seven.

On defense Atchley had two blocks and diving for digs were Penstein (20), Thompson (17), Bartlett (11) and Rodriguez (9).

Although Zamora will lose seniors Tafoya, Leech, Price, Atchley, Penstein, Thompson, Haskins, Bartlett, Rodriguez and Stokes, she said Zebras girls volleyball still looks bright. The junior varsity finished 17-8 and 8-2 in league play, and Zamora said she is scheduling open gym for the summer and encouraging her athletes to play club ball.

Next year Lincoln will move to the Division III Foothill Valley League along with Placer. Other teams in the FVL will be Nevada Union, Oakmont, Ponderosa and Rio Linda.