Northmor rallied from a 2-0 deficit against Pleasant in the Division III district semifinals for volleyball, but couldn’t quite get over the hump in a five-set loss at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.
After falling 16-25 and 18-25 in the first two sets, the Golden Knights came back to win the third 25-17 and then outlasted the Spartans to take a 26-24 win in the fourth. Unfortunately for Northmor, Pleasant would bounce back to win the deciding set 15-10.
The Golden Knights struggled to get untracked in a match-opening set they lost 25-16, but did get a five-point run late in the set — with Emily Zeger serving for four of them — to gain a bit of momentum.
They took that into the second set, opening it with a defensive point and then getting six straight serves for points by Lizzie Erlsten to jump out to a 7-0 advantage.
Pleasant would quickly erase that deficit, though. Three points by Sydney Smith and two from Lexi Olt brought the Spartans within a 10-8 count and they would continue to surge. A pair of points from Madi Pendleton gave the their first lead of the set at 14-13 and with a 15-14 advantage, they would pull away with three points by Smith, three more from Makenna Ambrose and one from Olt.
Northmor coach Josh Lehman felt that squandering that large early lead put his team in a rough spot.
“That was a little frustrating, but they’re a good team,” he said. “They beat us in five earlier in the season and they beat us in five here. We’re evenly matched, but they had the slight edge both games.”
Northmor would bounce back from that setback, though. With the score tied at 8-8 in the third, the Golden Knights got nine straight point-scoring serves from Emily Zeger to open up a huge lead. While the Spartans were able to trim it down to five points at 21-16, a defensive point and two straight by Amanda Kincaid were able to put Northmor up by eight in a set they would win to stay alive.
After falling in a 3-0 hole early in the fourth, Northmor got three points from Erlsten, four from Madelyn Blunk and one from Kincaid to jump out to an 11-6 advantage. However, the Spartans would get five straight by Emerson Williams and the teams would be virtually deadlocked from there.
Northmor finally was able to claim the win and tie the match when, with the score tied at 24, they got a defensive point and Erlsten then served for the set-winning point.
Lehman said that his team played well down the stretch, which got them ready for a playoff run in which his 13th-seeded team was able to upend sixth-seed Liberty Union before facing seventh-seed Pleasant.
“They really did well the end of the season this year,” he said. “The last five matches, really. They stayed with it and fought until the end.”
They just couldn’t get over the hump and put the Spartans away, though. Holding a 3-2 lead early in the fifth, Pleasant got four in a row by Ambrose to jump in front by five points. Northmor would get it back to a 9-6 margin, but would not be able to catch their opponents in seeing their season come to a close.
Lehman noted that his team’s seniors — Kincaid, Zeger, Blunk and Abby Conant — played a big role in Northmor making it to the district semis after the team was hit hard by graduation last year.
“Our returning players were a big part of us doing as well as we did,” he said. “A team’s got to have people who have been there before and that does make a big difference. That helped us a lot this year.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS