George Jenkins Secures Victory Over Lakeland
Wed. September 26, 2012 at 5:13 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
George Jenkins players celebrate after beating Lakeland in a key early Class 7A, District 7 matchup on Tuesday night. (Photo by SCOTT WHEELER | THE LEDGER )
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | George Jenkins knew Tuesday's first real big test of the season would be against a hard-hitting Lakeland squad. So, in the days leading up to the game, Jenkins coach Lisa Bickerton spent extra time in practice stressing to her players that blocking and timing Lakeland's hitters properly would be the key to winning.
The extra work paid off and, despite having to rally back in the final two games, Jenkins beat Lakeland, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 in a Class 7A, District 7 matchup at George Jenkins High School.
"(Monday) we spent about 30 minutes working on our blocking," said senior hitter Erin Wibert, who had six blocks. "We were really focused on waiting, timing them off the position of their elbow and it really worked out."
The game felt like a playoff contest considering the atmosphere.
Jenkins' fan section was full, Lakeland's a little less, and Brighthouse Sports Network aired the game live as its volleyball game of the week.
Wibert helped Jenkins shine bright under that spotlight. She had 17 kills to go along with her blocks and helped boost the Eagles when they needed the surge. A Wibert kill in the first game put Jenkins up for good 20-18 and another one, straight through two Lakeland defenders in the second game, helped tie things up at 14-all. Jenkins outscored Lakeland 13-3 after rallying from an 11-5 deficit in that game.
Nikki McKown, a first-year starter, also had a solid performance, serving up five aces and posting 13 digs. Amanda Thiele added 13 digs and 29 assists for Jenkins, which improved to 6-0 on the season.
Lakeland worked hard to get a rhythm going but couldn't break through despite going ahead in the final two games.
The Dreadnaughts were up 12-5 in the third game on a kill by Kali Boatwright, but Jenkins scored seven consecutive points to tie things at 12-all. Wibert and Thiele had a big block on that point that tied it, an attempt by Boatwright on the left side of the net.
"When you play Lakeland you have to have good blocking because they have some really good hitters," Bickerton said.
Boatwright finished with 12 kills and 12 digs, Caitlin Conner had 25 assists and Sara Jayne Sutton added 15 digs for the Dreadnaughts, who are 9-6 overall and 4-1 in the district.
"We could have passed a lot better and communicated more," Conner said.
Added Lakeland coach Crystal Ramsey: "Jenkins was just the better team tonight. I think if we focus more on basics and fundamentals we would have had a better night."