Ben Franklin’s volleyball team couldn’t decide whether it was luck or destiny, but whatever it was, they were just glad it was on their side Tuesday night.
The No. 3 large school in the New Orleans Advocate Sweet 16 overcame a 13-7 deficit in the match’s deciding set to pull off a 25-21, 22-25, 17-25, 26-24, 16-14 five-set win on the road against Division II, District 6 rival Cabrini, extending its winning streak to 13 games.
“I think (the comeback) was a little part luck and a little part heart,” said Ben Franklin’s Allison Olsonoski, a Villanova commitment. “We had some form of higher power helping us out, but I think because we kept backing each other up we pulled out the win.”
Both teams went back-and-forth in an intense third set that had nine ties by the time both got to 11 points, but Cabrini took control with dominant play around the net. Cabrini hitters Rakelle Spencer and Atira Jells started making their presence felt and helped the Crescents take a 2-1 lead with a 25-17 win.
Despite dropping two straight sets, the Falcons (26-3, 4-0) continued to fight and overcame a late push by Cabrini to send the match into a fifth set with a 26-24 win in the fourth game.
Cabrini, ranked No. 5 in the large school division in the Sweet 16, jumped out to a 13-7 lead, but the Falcons clawed their way back as Olsonoski knocked in three of the final four kills of the match for Franklin to clinch the comeback victory.
“I don’t think we could have done that last year,” Ben Franklin libero Victoria Tidwell said of the comeback. “I think it proves just how much we’ve grown as a family. … I’m really proud of the way we played.”
The Falcons took an early punch from Cabrini (17-6, 3-1) and its raucous crowd, falling into a 2-0 hole in the opening set of the match. But, Olsonoski provided a calming presence for Franklin and her back-to-back kills gave the Falcons a 4-3 lead that they did not relinquish before finishing the set with a 25-21 victory.
Franklin carried that momentum into the second set and jumped out to a 9-2 lead, but the Crescents’ relentless attack and strong play from Jells helped them score eight straight points and jump out to a 21-18 lead late in the set. Franklin fought to cut its deficit to 22-21, but Jells’ soaring kill helped Cabrini end the set with a 25-22 win, tying the match at one.
“Ben Franklin is a great team. We just made too many mistakes on our side,” Cabrini coach Kasey Laird said. “We just kind of killed ourselves at crucial points of the match.”
Olsonoski finished with a game-high 33 kills, while Tidwell threw in 22 digs and Claire Molaison led the team with 40 assists. Jells and Spencer led Cabrini with 26 and 19 kills. Bailey Hepting finished with a match-high 52 assists.