After falling to visiting Northmor 25-15 and 25-5 in the first two sets of their Tuesday volleyball match, Mount Gilead had a much stronger showing in the third set before dropping a 29-27 decision to the Knights to be swept.
The opening game was played fairly evenly until a late Northmor surge put them over the hump. Leading by a slim 18-15 margin after a point by Kora James, the Knights got a defensive stop and then tallied six straight points on the serve of Hope Miracle to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
After the second set, it looked like the Knights would cruise to the win. Northmor opened with a defensive stop and then got five points from Jordyn Zoll to jump out to an early lead they would not relinquish. Kelsie Fike, Miracle, Caitlin Thebeault and Anna Donner all tallied multiple points on their trips behind the service line as Northmor easily handled their hosts.
“When we’re in our traditional line-up, we do a really good job of execution,” said Northmor coach Kara Wright.
MG coach Lyndsay Wyeth noted that her team’s communication, or lack of it, plays a large role in their set-to-set performance.
“Honestly, it’s communication,” she said. “You can tell the difference if they’re talking or not.”
Things were different in the third set, as the Indians came out strongly, getting a quick defensive stop and then scoring four points on Becca Kindred’s serve. Northmor battled back to get two points from Fike and seven more from Miracle to jump in front 11-6, but Mount Gilead battled back into the lead.
Northmor only scored one point on their next four service attempts, while the Indians picked up seven during that span, including three from Ashley Sellars, to move in front by a 17-15 margin.
Trailing 18-17, Northmor got three points from Fike to move back into the lead, but neither team could claim the momentum. Two points from Thebeault put the Knights up 24-21, but a defensive stop and two points from Tressa Edwards tied things at 24. From there, both teams traded defensive stops until, with the score 28-27 in favor of the Knights, Fike tallied one more point to give Northmor the hard-fought win.
“We were trying to save some girls since we have four matches in four nights,” said Wright. “It’s always a challenge to get everyone together and to play as one.”
For MG, Wyeth noted that her squad showed what they can do in the third game — something she hopes can carry over to future matches.
“They have the talent,” she said. “It’s if we all play together and keep it together. It took a while to get good passes under control and in the third, we were better and that showed in the score.”
With plenty of matches this week, Wright noted that her team has many opportunities to both improve their potential seeding in the district tournament and their place in the Blue Division standings. After the win over MG, they were 5-2 in league play (11-2 overall), which put them in a third-place tie with Cardington behind Highland (8-0) and Centerburg (7-1).
“We played a ton of non-leagues and haven’t lost to any,” she said. “In the league, we lost to Centerburg and Highland and are looking forward to round two. We’re trying to stay in the top of the league and play Cardington twice in the next week, which will be huge.”