With the score tied at 16 in the second set of what had been a closely-contested volleyball match at Mount Gilead, the Northmor Golden Knights went on a run.
Junior setter Lizzie Erlsten served for nine straight points to give Northmor the win and a 2-0 lead in the match. Her team would then go on to control the action in the third set and finish with a 25-19, 25-16, 25-12 win in the KMAC contest.
“Our second set really carried us into the third,” said Northmor coach Shelbie Wiseman. “We started executing the game plan we went over in practice, which gave us the momentum.”
Wiseman noted that her players struggled to do that until making that run.
“Our girls came out a little scared, lackadaisical,” she said. “We weren’t executing our game plan until that second run, really, in the second set.”
Until that moment, the teams played evenly. While Northmor led for much of the opening set, Mount Gilead was able to keep the score close until a late-set three-point run by the Golden Knights turned a 22-19 lead into a 1-0 lead in the match.
Earlier in the set, two points by Abby Leonhard gave MG a 7-6 lead, but one from Kallie Wright and four straight by Mary Dean put Northmor in front 13-9. While the Indians would get as close as three, they would not be able to work their way back into the lead.
It initially looked like Northmor would take that momentum and cruise in the second set. Seven straight points by Jillian Zeger put the Golden Knights in front by a 10-3 margin, but Mount Gilead would battle back. Two points by Cassady Irwin and four by Leonhard tied the game at 11.
With the score 13-12 in favor of Northmor, they would get two points from Maggie Brewer; however, the Indians would rebound with a defensive point and three straight from Emily Mattix to take a 16-15 lead. Unfortunately for MG, a defensive point and Erlsten’s run prevented them from knotting the match at one set each.
“We just have to work on playing competitive volleyball and keeping our stamina up and being able to press those long sets and stay competitive all the way through and not have any drop-off, especially with a team pressing that hard back at us,” said Oder.
While the match didn’t turn out in Mount Gilead’s favor — especially after a third set that Northmor controlled behind a five-point run by Erlsten, a three-point spurt by Zeger and an eight-point burst from Brewer — Oder noted that she was able to take a lot of positives from the evening.
“I was so proud of the kids,” she said. “That’s what I just told them in the locker room. I feel like we played hard for that set-and-a-half. They wanted to push. They wanted to play hard and I’m really proud because of all the work we’ve been doing, we’re starting to see that out on the court. Improvements every single time we’re hitting the court.”
Both coaches are glad their teams will be getting back to a normal schedule after having a light week due to the fair and then having school start right afterwards.
“I think that was hard for us,” said Wiseman. “We went a long stretch without a game. Fair week is tough with girls missing practice to show. Obviously, school started today, so it was the worst combination of everything getting started.”
Oder added: “It’s going to be nice getting them back in the school routine and back in conference play rhythm.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS