After how last year’s season began, the Spartans have to feel infinitely more satisfied with the start of this year’s campaign.
Lincoln East scored a 3-1 home win over Grand Island on Thursday night. With a 1-0 start, the team has immediately hit the road to compete in the Bellevue West Invitational.
Let’s take a quick look at how the Spartans and Islanders kicked off the 2021 season.
The visiting Islanders came out swinging right away and built up an early lead off the serving of setter Claire Kelly. Lincoln East quickly returned the favor, though, and went on a scoring run with Brooklyn FuchsBrooklynFuchs6'1" | MBLincoln East | 2023StateNE behind the line.
Both teams went back and forth throughout the first set with neither side finding any separation. Eventually, a clutch 3-0 scoring run lifted the Spartans to a narrow 25-23 victory in the first set.
Waters takes a swing.
This theme of tight scores was carried into the second stanza. Sophomore Haedyn HoosHaedynHoos5'9" | OHGrand Island Senior High | 2024StateNE provided some huge swings for the Islanders, and fellow 2024 Megan WatersMeganWaters5'10" | OHLincoln East | 2024StateNE often responded for East. Finally, Grand Island pulled out to a 16-12 lead after a pair of blocks.
Lincoln East would come back through a flurry of aces from Brynn CareyBrynnCarey5'8" | DS/LLincoln East | 2023StateNE. After taking the lead late in the set, the Spartans pulled away to claim a 2-0 lead.
The Islanders weren’t done, though. Grand Island responded by taking a commanding lead in the third set behind the arm of Hoos. The visitors led throughout and forced a fourth set.
Bradford (1) setting up the offense.
From there, though, East stepped on the gas. Some excellent choices by setter Aaliyah BradfordAaliyahBradford5'4" | SLincoln East | 2024StateNE set up the Spartans with amazing scoring opportunities late in the match. Lincoln East locked up a 3-1 decision with a big victory in the fourth.
Here are just a few reactions from this competitive match.
The Big Hitters
Waters surely has to be the big hitter of the night. This electrifying sophomore produced most of the contest’s floor-denting kills and brought an infectious energy to her side of the net. East’s other pin hitters, like Kamryn Snyder and Emma RandallEmmaRandall6'0" | SLincoln East | 2022NE, also produced some huge swings of their own.
Hoos on the attack.
Of course, Hoos deserves mention in this section, too. She was nearly unstoppable in the third set and constantly brought a major presence on offense.
Mayhem in the Middle
It’s easy to get caught up in the pin production from both sides, but don’t lose sight of the talent middles we saw in this matchup.
The Islanders got a lot of their offense from junior Rylie Huff at the M1 spot. Huff got a few swings on the left, too, and was a force from behind the service line.
For East, it was a combination of Fuchs and Kaylee Denker that helped lock things down along the net. This is a physical lineup that will match up well with other top teams in Class A.
Trading the Jersey
One of the interesting things to follow throughout the match was the libero flip-flopping between Carey and true freshman Zoe Rademacher. Both got plenty of runs at the libero spot and did an admirable job holding down the backcourt defense.
As mentioned earlier, East is currently competing in the Bellevue West Invite against some top competition in Class A. Grand Island returns home for a district matchup with Norfolk on Tuesday.