Cardington claimed a big KMAC volleyball win at Northmor on Thursday by scores of 25-19, 25-23, 21-25 and 25-19.
With both teams battling for a spot in the top three of the league standings, the Pirates were able to jump in front 2-0 and then battle back with a strong fourth-set performance after dropping the third.
“I said technically, this is a third-place match, but we also stayed alive for second place if we do our job this second round with Centerburg and Northmor,” said Cardington head coach Ryan Treese. “It’s just stay alive. Last year, it was to not fall. This year, it’s let’s stay alive as long as we can.”
Strong defense led Cardington to a win in the first set, as other than a three-point run by Maggie Brewer, they were able to hold down the Northmor offense. C.C. Hall had two two-point runs for Cardington, including one right after Brewer’s three points that turned a 13-12 lead into a three-point advantage, and a three-point run that decided the set.
Treese was happy with Hall’s play behind the service line — especially since his team struggled with serving errors on the night.
“Today, I’m going to take the positive,” said the coach. “They were out of bounds and not in the net. We probably had more serving errors, but they played a couple of them. Big props to C.C. Hall. She stepped up really big. Probably had her best serving match of the season and it really made a difference when the two people in front of her would miss them.”
Cardington would then jump out to a big lead in the second set, as four points by Lily Clark, three from Lundyn Blevins and two from Hall allowed them to jump out to a 14-5 lead.
Northmor would rally through, getting a defensive point and five straight scores from Mary Dean to get back into the contest. However, unforced errors would give the Pirates two straight points. Northmor coach Shelbie Wiseman noted that her team needed to play a bit more cleanly.
“We had some communication errors tonight and just kind of the assumption that someone is going to play my ball,” she said. “So, we’re going to work on that. We know we’ve got them a second time at their place, so we’re going to be ready to go.”
Northmor would continue to battle back in the second, using two points each from Brewer and Dean to tie the score at 22. However, a defensive point, a score from Autumn Holt and, after a Northmor score, another defensive point allowed them to squeak out a 25-23 win.
The Golden Knights would be able to grab some momentum in the third set. Two points by Brewer and three each from Sutton Makayla and Lizzie Erlsten allowed them to jump out to a 14-6 lead and they would hold on for a 25-21 win.
Cardington would rebound in the fourth set to claim the match, though. Trailing 4-2, the team got three straight points from Hall to take a lead. Both Blevins and Holt would then score four each to put the Pirates in front 15-7.
“We just couldn’t capitalize on our game plan and getting ahead in that third set,” said Wiseman.
Facing an 18-11 deficit, Northmor got a big boost by Erlsten, who scored five straight points to make it a two-point game. However, Cardington would respond with a defensive point followed by four in a row by Clark. That would make it a 23-16 Pirate lead in a set they wound up winning by six.
With the tournament draw date of Oct. 8 getting closer, both coaches were able to look at this match between closely-knit league rivals as beneficial for them in moving forward. For Wiseman, the big key she took from it was that errors need to be minimized.
“We’re just going to work on controlling our side and not making as many errors,” she said. “When the other team gets a point, what do we do to move on and move forward?”
Treese noted that after graduated the majority a veteran last year, he is getting to the point with his less-experienced team where he can do the same sort of rotation tinkering.
“Tonight, I did things I would not have done two weeks ago,” he said. “I put a 5’1” freshman girl i the front row because we needed a pass. I put another freshman in a different serve receive position — Alexis Longsdorf — to get Lily on the right side. A little different attack. We’re starting to do things we were able to do last year at the beginning of the season with the line-up. Doing multiple different things to confuse the other team.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS