LINCOLN — Losing the first eight points of the match isn't exactly what Lincoln Pius X volleyball coach Jake Moore wanted to see.
But the situation improved immensely for the host Thunderbolts, who rallied to defeat top-ranked Lincoln Southwest in four sets.
Pius dropped the first set 25-16 but bounced back to win the next three 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 to hand the Class A No. 1 Silver Hawks their first loss. The Thunderbolts, ranked third in Class B and No. 8 overall, boosted their record to 6-1.
“When I looked at our schedule, I wasn't thinking this was going to be a 'W' ”, Pius coach Jake Moore said. “Not a lot of people are expecting a lot from us this year, but we had some players really step up.”
The Thunderbolts won despite a strong effort from Southwest senior outside hitter Marysa Wilkinson. The 6-foot Creighton recruit pounded 30 kills, but it wasn't enough.
“She had a ton of swings tonight,” Moore said. “But we tried to make someone else on their team beat us.”
While Wilkinson piled up the kills for the Silver Hawks, three players put up big offensive numbers for Pius. Kaitlin VanLoon led the way with 16 kills while Ashley Witt and Sydney Townsend had 14 each.
“This is a big win for us, but it's important that we stay humble,” VanLoon said. “We know that we need to keep working hard.”
The match got off to an inauspicious start for Moore's squad when Southwest zipped ahead 8-0.
“When we were down at the start of that first set, I just thought, 'Here we go,' ” the coach said. “I'm just glad we were able to get things turned around.”
Behind Wilkinson's 10 kills, the Silver Hawks won the first set handily. But Pius did turn it around in the second set and held on for a three-point win.
The Thunderbolts maintained that momentum in the third set, doggedly holding the lead most of the way. Southwest tried to rally late, but a kill by Witt capped off the set and moved Pius closer to the upset.
Moore's squad repeated that effort in the final set, taking an early lead and refusing to give it up. The Silver Hawks inched within 24-21 on Wilkinson's 30th kill, but VanLoon put down the final kill for the victory.
“I just went for it on that last point,” she said. “We didn't want to let that one slip away.”
Junior Sara Boothe dished out 50 assists for Pius, which returns to action Thursday night at Omaha Mercy.
Madison Egger had 44 assists for Southwest (3-1), which will compete in a quadrangular Friday at Omaha Marian.
Lincoln Southwest .............. 25 22 22 21
Lincoln Pius X ...................... 16 25 25 25
LSW (kills-aces-blocks): Taylor Els 7-0-0, Callie Meyer 5-0-1, Aftyn Johnson 1-0-0, Madison Kelle 3-0-0, Madison Egger 1-0-0, Marysa Wilkinson 30-0-1, Jill Bax 2-0-0, Kaylyn Fern 7-0-1.
LPX: Bree Ackermann 0-1-0, Sara Boothe 1-1-1, Indy Talken 5-0-2, Kaitlin VanLoon 16-1-1, Meghan Straub 2-0-0, Ashley Witt 14-0-1, Brenna Arneson 1-0-0, Sydney Townsend 14-0-0, Alexis Bryant 2-0-0.
Set assists: LSW 53 (Egger 44, Bax 6, Els 2, Wilkinson 1), LPX 54 (Boothe 50, Ackermann 2, Straub 1, Bryant 1).