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WIGSTEN’S ACES LIFT KNIGHTS OVER RAIDERS

The two best and unbeaten teams in girls middle school volleyball waited until the season finale to decide the leagues top seed where the home team St. John’s Knights and late game hero Hallie Wigsten battled back to defeat the St. Anthony Raiders 14-25, 25-15, 15-10.

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By Robert Balajadia

The two best teams in girls middle school volleyball waited until the season’s final week to decide the leagues top seed where the home team St. John’s Knights and late game hero Hallie Wigsten battled back to defeat the St. Anthony Raiders 14-25, 25-15, 15-10.

St. John’s had dug themselves in a deep 8-3 hole in the final set with the Raiders stealing early momentum off of three Knight errors. An error by the Raiders followed by a kill from Knight’s Tylee Shepherd brought the Knights back to a 10-7 deficit. More importantly, the Knights got the ball in the hands of Wigsten who completely took over.

Wigsten led with a kill to get within 10-8 and then fired off an ace to the backside of the Raiders defense to get within 10-9. Wigsten then went back to the right side to get her second straight ace to tie the game with the momentum completely shifting.

“I just kept my head in the game and I really wanted to win. We were just telling each other not to give up and to keep going despite being down a few points. We just believed,” said Wigsten on what sparked the Knights third set comeback.

Wigsten then attacked the left side of the back row and a dig attempt by the Raiders fell short to give the Knights the 11-10 lead, forcing a Raider timeout. The minute of rest couldn’t cool down Wigsten who went right back to work. A kill by teammate Kari Loveridge for a 12-10 lead set the stage for Wigsten to put the Raiders away.

A deep shot to the Raiders back row went untouched and inbounds as the Raiders called out to feed to Winston’s run. Another shot deep left was defended, but uncontrolled with the ball hitting one Raider before flying out of reach. Wigsten then sent the final blow right up the middle for an untouched ace for the win.

“We all just came out nervous, especially hearing from other teams on how good the Raiders were. We ended up coming back late and doing much better than our start,” said Wigsten.

Raiders Ivory Howat came out strong in the first set collecting five kills to help the Raiders control tipoff. The Knights responded after shaking off the early nerves to convincingly take the second set to force the deciding third.

The Raiders were the defending champions of the IIAAG Middle School girls volleyball season after an impressive run in 2014 which they earned after defeating the St. John’s Knights in the final week of games to go unbeaten. This year, the Knights were out for a little payback by winning the title in the same fashion as the Raiders a year ago.

“It feels really good to win it all in my last year since I can always look back at this. We haven’t won a middle school title since 2004 so bringing it back to the school this year means a lot to this team,” added Wigsten.

The Knights have two games left on scheduled against the San Vicente and Santa Barbara, but have locked in the #1 seed with the Raiders now falling to (6-3) while the Knights remain (9-0).

Wendy's Player of the Game, Hallie Wigsten of the St. John Knights.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Player of the Game, Hallie Wigsten of the St. John Knights. (photo by Daniel Paran)

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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The Lady Knights share an emotional group hug after scoring their match point.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

The Lady Knights share an emotional group hug after scoring their match point. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Raider Kirsten Silva at the ready with a nice return.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Raider Kirsten Silva at the ready with a nice return. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ivory Howat leaps up for a strong spike, surprising the Knights in the first set.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ivory Howat leaps up for a strong spike, surprising the Knights in the first set. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Rylean Pama swaps out with fellow Knight, Angeline Del Carmen.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Rylean Pama swaps out with fellow Knight, Angeline Del Carmen. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kari Loveridge sets the ball up for one of her teammates to score.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kari Loveridge sets the ball up for one of her teammates to score. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Down in points in the last set, Hallie Wigsten clutches out the win for the Knights with several consecutive aces.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Down in points in the last set, Hallie Wigsten clutches out the win for the Knights with several consecutive aces. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Nikki Mathews makes a close save to keep the ball in play.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Nikki Mathews makes a close save to keep the ball in play. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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