The Wilson volleyball team walked into the gym at H.D. Woodson on Tuesday night with boatloads of confidence. The Tigers knew that they were capable of winning the DCIAA championship because they had won 14 of the past 15 titles dating from 1998.
Tuesday night, they made it 15 of 16. Wilson penned another chapter in the program’s long and storied volleyball history, sweeping Banneker, 25-16, 25-15, 25-12. With the exception of a runner-up finish in 2007, the Tigers have been champions for the better part of two decades.
“It wasn’t easy,” junior libero Alexis Coates said. “[Banneker] definitely went all out. They had nothing to lose, so they gave it their all. But we kept fighting and didn’t give up because we really wanted this championship.”
Facing a dearth of quality competition, Wilson Coach Perette Arrington has built a volleyball powerhouse at the Northwest school. The Tigers (16-5) swept each of their DCIAA opponents this season and won three times by forfeit en route to Tuesday’s championship match.
But that didn’t mean that the trophy was going to be handed to them. The Bulldogs (11-3) struggled with Wilson’s serves, but kept the first two sets close and led early in the third. They were ultimately overmatched by Wilson and junior Kalena Wiggins, who led the team with 12 kills.
“It was just really focusing on my technique,” Wiggins said. “In the beginning of the season, I had to develop more skills. I was a little bit off. So it was really just focusing and focusing on the techniques the coaches taught us.”
For Arrington, progress like that was one of the many positives to come out of the championship match. It was important to keep the program’s tradition of success alive, and send the seniors out with a win in their final match. But it was also gratifying for Arrington to see coaching lessons throughout the season finally pay dividends.
While the Tigers have won six straight DCIAA championships, the importance of this one was not lost on the 14-year coach or her players.
“I think that the girls were focused. We told them to leave it on the court,” Arrington said. “I think they really wanted to make sure that we maintain the tradition and take home the win. And there’s no greater glory than to go out as a senior and be a champion.”
“It’s Wilson pride,” Wiggins said. “It means a lot.”