By ROB HAMILTON
Northmor got out to a fast start in Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference volleyball action on Tuesday and was able to hold on for a 25-12, 25-9, 11-25, 25-16 win.
After the first few points of the opening game were played evenly, the Knights got one point from Anna Donner and three more from Rayanna Loyer to jump out to an 11-5 advantage. Northmor’s defense played a huge key in the win, as they only surrendered one offensive point to the Pirates during that first game.
Holding a 17-10 lead, the Knights got three points from Erica McElvain to reach 20. From there, two scores from Cristianna Boggs and one from Loyer, as well as a pair of defensive stops, gave Northmor the first game.
With a young team, Northmor coach Kara Wright is trying to keep her charges aggressive, both defensively and offensively — a strategy that worked for much of Tuesday’s match.
“We’re asking the girls to serve aggressively and shoot for holes and look to dominate,” she said. “And we’re just trying to teach them to hut very aggressively.”
Northmor then got out to a fast start in the second game, getting five quick points from Jordyn Zoll, three from Karlee Carroll and two from Lindsey Wiseman to jump out to a 12-2 lead. The Pirates would not be able to recover from that deficit as the Knights continued to add to that lead on their way to taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five match.
“I don’t know what was going on,” said Cardington (3-4, 1-1 in league play) coach Kendra Mosher. “I thought we were beating ourselves. Finally (in the third game), they must have gotten tired of being beaten badly and came out and played.”
That third game started out with a snafu, as Northmor erred in making their line-up card, turning a 1-1 game with the Knights holding serve into a 1-0 Cardington lead with the ball in their possession. After the lengthy discussion, Cardington was able to snag the momentum, getting two points from MaKenna McClure and three from Gracie Rees to jump out to a 7-1 advantage.
Cardington’s earlier offensive woes vanished in this game, as eight straight girls scored at least once on their trips behind the line. Jordan Deskins tallied one point, followed by two from Samantha Brininger, one each by Rylie Partlow and Marissa Hall, four more from McClure and two more from Rees.
Those final Rees’ points made the score 24-9 in favor of the Pirates. Northmor got the ball back and got one point from Wiseman, but a defensive stop by Cardington gave them the game and sent the match to a fourth.
“Northmor was doing a good job and not making many hitting errors,” said Mosher. “I think we finally came together in the third set.”
The Knights got two points from Zoll and two more from Wiseman in jumping out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth game, but the Pirates roared back to tie the score after a defensive stop and four points from Rees. However, with Northmor holding a scant 9-8 advantage, they would blow the game open behind seven consecutive points scored by Donner.
Cardington responded with three from Brininger to get within a 16-12 score, but after getting a stop, the Knights would then get seven more scores from Kelsie Fike to come one point from victory. Cardington would get a stop and three points from Kelsey Barker, but the Knights would be able to finish off the win.
Mosher, who noted this season has been a roller-coaster so far, noted that consistency is something her players will have to develop.
“That’s our biggest thing — we beat ourselves some times and aren’t mentally tough,” she said. For the Knights, who improved to 2-0 in league play and 5-2 overall, getting off to a good start in league play during a week full of distractions due to the Morrow County Fair, was a huge positive.
“Losing six seniors, we knew we had a lot of holes to fill,” she said. “To start 2-0 and during fair week, that’s what we wanted to do.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS