OLYMPIA - Whenever the Olympia Bears needed to stop Wilson's momentum, they could count on senior Rosa Gimson.
With Olympia down by three points late in Game 3 against the Rams, the Bears' 5-foot-10 middle blocker had two key blocks to stop Wilson's run, along with the go-ahead kill to help the Bears sweep Wilson in both teams' Narrows League opener Tuesday night at Olympia High School.
Gimson, who finished with eight kills and five blocks, helped the Bears hold off Wilson 25-17, 26-24, 27-25. The kill and block of the match came from Gimson, putting the Bears ahead 25-24, stopping the Rams' streak at four consecutive points late in Game 3.
"This is so thrilling," Gimson said. "It makes you feel every time you practice and every time you touch the ball you do it for a reason. We knew it was going to be close because Wilson is really good."
Olympia (4-0, 1-0 Narrows League) cruised in Game 1, but ran into a feistier Wilson squad in the next two games. Rams senior outside hitter Katlyn Kester broke an early 5-0 run by Olympia, followed by three consecutive kills.
Serving and hitting errors haunted Wilson (3-1, 0-1 Narrows League) all game and all match, with six of its seven serving errors coming late in Game 2. Both teams went back and forth trading sideouts at points 21, 22 and 23. And after a fourth consecutive serving error for Wilson's Britney Dinelt, Olympia put the victory away thanks to Liz Armstrong's kill. Wilson had 13 serving errors for the match, compared to Olympia's eight.
"Any chance they had to get in on any kind of a run, they shot themselves in the foot," Olympia coach Laurie Creighton said.
Wilson looked much more aggressive to try and force a Game 4, as Kester's kill and a Taylor Darneille block increased Wilson's lead to 10-4 early in Game 3.
But the momentum didn't hold for long.
Gimson stopped the bleeding with a kill and along with Amia Huang's streak of 5-for-5 on serves, Olympia suddenly found itself up 13-11.
Creighton and her team watched 30 minutes of film prior to Tuesday's match, helping point what they're doing wrong and what they can work on.
And it seemed to work.
"They saw things that they hear me talking about," Creighton said. "We're a young team and we're progressing. We learned a lot about ourselves."
With Wilson up 23-20, a long rally was ended by Gimson's block of the powerful-hitting Kester, who led Wilson with seven kills. It was the third opportunity the Rams had in that series to pull within one point of the win. The block and kill by Gimson on the ensuing play helped seal with win, led to Jackie Reese's game-winning kill.
"Last year, (Kester) was an amazing hitter," said Gimson, who's being recruited by Northwest Nazarene University and a few others out of state. "My goal for this game was to shut her down."
Creighton said she was pleased with her team's response in Game 3, especially after being down by more than five points on a couple of occasions. She pointed out that as long as the Bears can pass, they want to make sure Gimson is a option.
"I know what Rosa can do and she's stepped up her level of play this year," Creighton said. "She came through in the clutch a number of times."
Said Gimson: "It was time for me to step it up and be a leader. I felt I had to be mentally tough and finish."