Northmor was able to stay perfect on the volleyball season Tuesday night after topping Cardington in a hard-fought three-set match.
After taking the first by a 25-15 margin, the Knights endured two very closely-contested sets, but were able to prevail 26-24 in both the second and third to improve to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Knox Morrow Athletic Conference play.
“We knew they’d be tough,” said Knight coach Kara Wright. “They’re so tall with a good libero and a good defensive back row. To come out with a 3-0 win is great — more than I could ask for.”
Cardington scored the first two points of the first set behind the serving of Maci Morgan, but Northmor got a defensive stop and two points from Jordyn Zoll to move in front by one.
Northmor’s defense then took over for much of the set, as they gradually pulled away. Hanna Bentley picked up three points, Caitlin Thebeault added two and Kelsie Fike tallied six in a row, as the Knights led by as much as a 20-9 margin.
Cardington would get as close as 21-15 thanks to getting four points by Marissa Hall, but Northmor closed out the game with a defensive point and three straight by Anna Donner.
Pirate coach Amanda Allen noted that her team simply didn’t string enough plays together to overcome Northmor.
“Tonight, passing killed us,” she said. “And when we had a good pass, we were not having effective sets. You’ve got to hit, you can’t tip with them.”
Both teams’ defenses held firm in the early portion of the second game, with neither team getting much offensively until Cardington’s Kyleigh Bonnette tallied five points on her serve to give the Pirates an 11-7 lead. The Pirates still would lead 13-10 until Zoll picked up six straight for the Knights, putting them in front by three.
Northmor’s lead wouldn’t hold up for long, as Rylie Partlow was able to give Cardington an 18-17 advantage. However, the Knights then got two points from Thebeault and one more from Fike to lead 24-21, placing them one point away from taking a 2-0 lead.
It wouldn’t be easy to get that point, though. Cardington got a defensive stop and two points from Jordan Deskins to tie the game at 24. Northmor rallied for a defensive stop to move back in front by one and then Zoll scored on her first serve to give the Knights the win in the second set.
Wright noted that her team was looking to keep Cardington off-balance in the match.
“They came out with great defense and came out and played us super-tough,” she said. “We wanted to keep them out of their system and keep the ball out of Rylie Partlow’s hands. Keeping them on their toes and not giving them good set-ups was part of our plan.”
The third game went much the same way as the second. Northmor opened with a defensive stop and added three points on Zoll’s serve to take an early 4-0 lead, but Cardington roared back, getting five points from Partlow to jump in front 7-5. The rest of the game was evenly matched, with the teams repeatedly trading the lead. After getting two points from Zoll and two more from Donner, Northmor led 18-16 and would not trail again, although the score was tied repeatedly.
Partlow was able to tie the game at 18. From there, it bounced between a tie and one-point Northmor lead until a point from Cristianna Boggs put the Knights in front 22-20. Northmor would then lead 24-22, but Cardington got a defensive point and a serve for a score by Hall to tie things at 24. However, the Knights got a stop of their own and Donner then finished the game and match with a successful serve.
Allen noted that her team has the ability to win these tight contests, but just needs to gain more confidence and consistency.
“Consistency is definitely a problem and something we struggle with,” she said. “The girls are a good team, but just lack in confidence. I know they can do it, their parents know they can do it and the people in the stands know they can do it.”