While it might not have been a perfect performance by Ryan Treese’s Cardington squad, their Tuesday night home match with Northmor did wind up a league win.

The Pirates outlasted their opponents to take a 25-17, 19-25, 25-15, 25-15 win in the KMAC opener for both clubs. Treese noted that at this early point of the season, he is still working on his team’s rotation.

“It’s our first league game and second win of the season,” he said. “We played 12 girls tonight. We’re still trying to figure out our rotation.”

The Pirates got out to a fast start in the first game, getting a defensive point followed by four from Madison Linkous to hold an early 5-0 lead. Two points from Jadine Mills and one each from Cadie Long and Emalee Artz boosted that advantage to a 13-5 score.

While they struggled on offense for the rest of the set, their defense didn’t let the Golden Knights back into it. While three-points by Lizzie Erlsten allowed Northmor to close within a 22-16 margin, the Pirates closed out the game to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

Northmor coach Josh Lehman felt that overall, his team just didn’t do what they needed in order to get a road win over a tough opponent.

“Cardington is a very good team and it’s hard to come in and play them well, but we just didn’t play our game,” he said. “We gave them half the point difference in the first game with bad serves. I told them we have to get more aggressive in serving.”

The Golden Knights did take that to heart in the second game. Four points from Lexi Wenger, three by Reagan Swihart and one each from Erlsten and Maggie Tuttle staked Northmor to a 14-4 lead. They would maintain a lead of roughly double digits until Cardington made a late rally.

Trailing 18-9, the Pirates got four points from Audrey Brininger and added three by Mills to close within a 20-17 count. However, a defensive point followed by two from Wenger boosting the Golden Knight advantage to 23-17 in a set the team would win by six.

“The second set was not what we do,” said Treese. “We got down by about 13 and got back to three, but that’s one we’ll erase from the memory.”

Cardington took that momentum into the third set. Leading 6-4, the team got five straight points by Mills. Then, with a 15-10 advantage, Olivia Holt recorded six straight points to stake the team to an 11-point advantage. Despite getting a pair of points from Wenger, Northmor would not be able to overcome that deficit.

Both teams struggled to score off their serving in the early going of the fourth set. However, facing an 8-7 deficit, Cardington got two points from Linkous, five from Lily Clark, two more by Brininger and one from Mills to surge in front of their opponents by a 20-13 count.

While Northmor was able to get within 20-15 after a defensive point and one from Rachael Ervin’s serve, they would not be able to close the gap any farther. The Pirates scored on defense to get the ball back and Long responded with four straight serves for scores to give Cardington the set and match.

Treese was pleased with how his team battled back after the second set, but noted that his players need to get more consistent in getting out to good starts in games.

“The last thing I said in the huddle was that I was pleased we took the third 25-15 and took control,” he said. “In the beginning of the first and third games we were really good. The starts of those two were good, the starts of the other two were not.”

Lehman feels his team will have to work on a few things in order to be contenders in the league race, citing awareness as something he wants to see improvement in.

“What we call ball awareness,” he said. “We need every player to play to the end of the play every time.”

Cardington setter Jadine Mills sends the ball to one of her team’s hitters in their 3-1 win over Northmor on Tuesday.
https://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2021/08/web1_jadinemills2.jpgCardington setter Jadine Mills sends the ball to one of her team’s hitters in their 3-1 win over Northmor on Tuesday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Reagan Swihart attempts a kill in Northmor’s match at Cardington on Tuesday.
https://www.morrowcountysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2021/08/web1_reaganswihart2.jpgReagan Swihart attempts a kill in Northmor’s match at Cardington on Tuesday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

By Rob Hamilton

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Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS