It wasn’t easy, but Northmor was able to even the score with Cardington in KMAC volleyball on Thursday.

After losing 3-1 on the road to the Lady Pirates in the first meeting between the two squads, Northmor hosted them Thursday and was able to battle back to earn a 25-21, 24-26, 22-25, 25-20, 17-15 decision.

“It was unbelievable,” said Northmor coach Tiffany Kohls. “Our girls played unbelievable from start to finish. I’m really proud of them.”

Northmor got out to a fast start in the opening set, scoring the first five points of the game behind the serving of Lizzie Erlsten. The Pirates struggled with serve reception in the early going, giving up a handful of aces in those early points — something that Cardington coach Ryan Treese felt was just the start of his team’s troubles.

“We weren’t into it,” he said. “They thought it’d be 3-0 and were lackadaisical in the beginning. Yeah, we were down our starting middle and defensive specialist, but that’s no excuse. We go 14 deep.”

The Pirates were able to close within one point at multiple times in that game, but would not be able to get over the hump in falling 25-21. However, they would rebound to take the next two games, although neither came easy.

Two points by Maggie Tuttle gave Northmor an early 6-3 lead in the second game and they were able to maintain a slim advantage until two points by Madison Linkous turned an 18-18 tie into Cardington’s first lead of the set and match. While they were unable to add to their advantage, they were able to keep the Golden Knights from going on any runs and knotted the match at 1-1 after pulling out a 26-24 win.

The third set also was closely contested. Two points by Linkous and one each from Olivia Holt, Audrey Brininger and Jadine Mills helped the Pirates take a 9-5 lead, but Northmor rallied to briefly lead at 12-11 thanks to two scores each by Emily Zeger and Erlsten.

Holding a slim 15-14 lead, Cardington got a boost when Brininger served for three straight points. While Northmor would fight back to tie the score at 19, the Pirates were strong down the stretch, getting two points from Payton Goodman and one from Linkous to win their second straight set.

Facing a second 3-1 loss to the Pirates this year, Northmor responded with their best set of the night. With the score tied at four, the Golden Knights used two points from Tuttle and three from Maddie Blunk to jump out to a 10-5 lead. Then, holding a 12-9 edge, Northmor got three points from Zeger and two from Erlsten to open up an 18-10 lead in a set they would win by a 25-20 margin.

“We gave them momentum by being lazy,” said Treese.

Kohls felt her team did a good job of bouncing back from losing the previous two sets.

“We were just talking about getting back to what we do best passing, serving and hitting,” she said. “We did that; I’m really proud of them.”

Northmor then was able to close out their win with a hard-fought 17-15 decision in the fifth set. With the score tied at eight, they took the lead on four points from Erlsten. However, two points each from Lily Clark and Linkous brought Cardington one point from the win at 14-13. However, they wouldn’t be able to score that final point and with the score tied at 15, Northmor was able to score two in a row off the serving of Blunk to close out the match.

“I would say we came together better as a team,” said Kohls in regards to the difference in Northmor’s performances in the two matches with Cardington. “We hit real well together and are serving much more consistently. Serving was a factor in tonight’s win.”

Now, she’s hoping this win can boost the team throughout the rest of the season.

“This was a great momentum builder for us,” she said. “Hopefully this continues through the rest of the season for us.”

As for the Pirates, Treese looks at this loss — Cardington’s first in KMAC play — as a wake-up call.

“Hopefully, it hits home for our girls about what we really are,” he said. “Give Northmor credit, they played a hell of a game.”

Northmor’s Amanda Kincaid goes up for a hit in her team’s dramatic five-set win over visiting Cardington Thursday.’s Amanda Kincaid goes up for a hit in her team’s dramatic five-set win over visiting Cardington Thursday. Rob Hamilton | Morrow County Sentinel

Audrey Brininger of Cardington looks for a kill against Northmor on Thursday. Brininger of Cardington looks for a kill against Northmor on Thursday. 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