The Northmor volleyball team battled through adversity to claim a win over visiting Danville in their Division IV tournament opener Thursday.
In their 25-22, 28-30, 25-22, 25-17 decision, the Golden Knights were initially cruising. After falling into a 5-1 hole, the team got one point from Reagan Swihart, three from Maggie Tuttle and eight straight from Lexi Wenger to surge in front 17-9. However, Swihart got injured on Wenger’s final point and the team struggled down the stretch in the set.
Danville got within a three-point margin multiple times down the stretch and closed to within a 24-22 score before a defensive point ended the game in Northmor’s favor.
While Northmor got off to a good start in the second set, getting three points from both Lizzie Erlsten and Wenger and two from Tuttle in taking a 12-8 lead, they would not be able to maintain that momentum. While they led most of the set, they would not be able to capitalize on a 24-21 lead and watched Danville battle back to tie the score and eventually win by a 30-28 count.
“It was more of a mental hiccup,” said Northmor coach Josh Lehman. “‘Oh my gosh, something happened’ and they worried about their teammate. In the heat of the moment, it was mentally hard for them to overcome.”
Lehman gave a lot of credit for his team’s eventual victory to junior hitter Amanda Kincaid for her efforts in the middle.
“Amanda Kincaid had a phenomenal game,” he said. “Her hitting kept us in the game and eventually sealed it.”
The Golden Knights recovered to win the third set, although it wasn’t easy. The team got out to a great start, getting four points from Erlsten, two from Maddie Blunk and eight from Tuttle in opening up a 17-6 lead, but then struggled to generate offense off their serve. Danville battled back to get within a 21-20 count and kept it close until a point from Maggie Brewer gave Northmor a three-point decision.
The locals would then pull out a closely-contested fourth set thanks to a late run. While they led most of the way, they were unable to pull away until, with the score 17-16, they got a defensive point and tacked on five more off the serving of Brewer to take a six-point lead.
Lehman gave credit to Danville for their effort, but also felt Swihart’s injury may have affected his squad’s play.
“That’s the best I’ve seen them play,” he said of the Blue Devils. “They played great. I don’t know if they’ve taken a set from us in a long time. We weren’t as mentally ready for that game as we should be. Probably a lot of that was that Reagan was hurt.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS