Senior night. Rivalry game. Packed student section.
It’s safe to say the pressure was on for the Rampart girls’ volleyball team in a 5A Colorado Springs Metro League game against Pine Creek on Thursday night.
But fortunately for the Rams (10-5, 3-0), they were up for the challenge, and completed the sweep of Pine Creek 25-18, 25-20, 25-23.
“This is a match that I’m always nervous for because there is so much that goes into it,” Rampart coach Nikki Bloemen said. “I’m really thankful our girls are so mentally mature this year, and even coming into today I knew that I was more nervous than they were.”
Ironically, part of that maturity comes from the team’s lone sophomore Grace Wilkinson, who transferred from Pine Creek at the beginning of the year, seeking a “fresh start.”
Wilkinson aided her new squad to an emotional win over the Eagles (8-8, 2-1), contributing 10 digs as the team’s defensive specialist.
Due to the transfer policy, Wilkinson sat out for the first 11 games of the season, and had her debut last week against Palmer.
“It was hard sitting out the first half of the season, but I knew it would all be worth it in the end and it’s all working out perfectly and I love it,” Wilkinson said. “(Against Pine Creek) I knew that I had to be strong for my team, and coming into it I had to take in a lot of positivity because negativity would just bring me down, so I just came in wanting to fight and compete.”
Despite having just three matches under her belt in a Rampart uniform, Wilkinson’s impact is already noticeable.
“You say she’s a sophomore but it’s crazy because she is one of the most consistent passers I’ve ever had,” Bloemen said. “I think it’s really important to have her from a serve-receive aspect. Her teammates trust her back there and they know she’s consistent and they trust her next to them, and I think that improves our passing as a whole. We have a whole new dimension now, and not only is it nice having her as an individual on our side, but it’s also nice having her next to her teammates.”
Thursday after the game the six Rampart underclassmen performed a dance, and recited prepared speeches to their six seniors. And despite just a few months with the team, Wilkinson addressed two seniors who have become family.
“As a sophomore I’m the baby, and I like to be in that role, but I also have to live up to all of my upperclassmen, so I am always looking up to them and competing with them,” Wilkinson said. “These seniors have left a huge impact on me. Coming into this school I didn’t know what to expect. I was really down, I didn’t know what to do, and they just welcomed me and they provided such a big support and love that I can’t even describe and I’m so thankful for them.”
Kira Warren led the Rams with 12 kills against Pine Creek, followed by Taylor Sibert with 11, and led the team with 16 digs.
Pine Creek’s Juliet Vendl, Gabby Wilson and Mackie McDonald each had six kills for the Eagles, while Anna Ruff, Savannah Nott and Vendl each had two blocks.