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Short-handed Lincoln Christian volleyball squad holds on to defeat OCS in five sets

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Lincoln Christian’s volleyball team defeated Oklahoma Christian School in five sets Thursday night at home.

“This is what you want to see at the end of the season,” Lincoln coach Deidra Rader said after the win, “how teams are peaking and coming together and able to play under pressure like that.”

With 306 points each, Lincoln (21-12) and OCS entered Thursday’s head-to-head matchup tied for fourth in the Class 4A coaches poll.

Before the game, Rader was concerned about Lincoln’s chances against the powerhouse Saints (24-11) from Edmond. She would be without two of her best players: Patton Tuggle, whom Rader said was “half of our offense” was ineligible, and Hannah Clayton was out with a concussion.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of our seniors and their leadership,” Rader said. “Coming in with a new lineup tonight, we had underclassmen that have literally not even played varsity … I’m really impressed. I cannot believe it.”

Ellie Stine and Frannie Rollandini played their first varsity games and were tasked with big responsibilities, but the Bulldogs’ lack of chemistry showed in the first set.

As players hesitated or struggled to keep in their zones, the Saints took advantage of Lincoln’s blunders. The Bulldogs found synergy later in the set, but OCS took the win 25-22.

“‘Do I take that? I don’t want to step on her toes because I’m a sophomore and a senior could’ve taken that.’ I kind of saw some of that hesitation,” Rader said. “But then they sured it up because the senior said ‘that’s all right, sophomore. You go get it next time.’”

The Bulldogs rallied to take a 25-23 win in the second set, then OCS bounced back to win by the same score in the third.

Down 2-1, the Bulldogs needed an equalizing win. They played like it. Lincoln surged to a 7-2 lead early. After a Saints timeout, the Bulldogs continued to a 12-point lead. OCS attempted a comeback and cut its deficit to three, but a service error pulled Lincoln out of the set 25-21.

The teams’ equal statuses in the latest rankings were even most apparent in the fifth set. On the road to 15, they tied repeatedly with Lincoln trailing. The Bulldogs tied it at 8-8 before a small Saints run. They tied it again at 11, then again at 13-13.

Lincoln found its edge when Micalah Reed’s dig put the Bulldogs up 14-13. The Saints found a hole in Lincoln’s defense to tie it back at 14. OCS overzealously struck the ball past Lincoln’s back line to make it 15-14 Bulldogs.

In the next rally, Lincoln scored the deciding point when a Saints player returned a ball out of bounds as it clipped the antennae.

“We’ve had an incredibly tough schedule this season, and so I know it’s been hard for our girls to walk away from it with as many losses as we’ve had,” Rader said. “So for them to say, ‘OK, this hard work has paid off’ because now we’re able to beat teams when we need to, I think that’s that morale boost of understanding the process.”

Lincoln closes the regular season at 6:30 p.m. Monday at 6A No. 1 Jenks (20-3).

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Sports Writer

I cover sports at the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University. I previously freelanced for the Edmond Sun, the Daily Ardmoreite and others. I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma in 2021 via Tishomingo High School in 2017.

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