A strong third game by the Northmor volleyball team prevented Cardington from recording a home three-set sweep of the Golden Knights; however, the Pirates were able to earn the KMAC decision in four by scores of 25-8, 25-15, 22-25, 25-12.
Efficient play carried Cardington through most of the first two sets. In the first set, they scored at least one point every time they came up to serve, while only giving Northmor offensive points from Lizzie Erlsten and Maddie Blunk.
The score was close, with the Pirates holding a 9-6 lead, but four points from Alexis Crone allowed them to gain a bit of breathing room with a seven-point edge. Madison Linkous added a pair of points and then, with the score 17-8 in favor of the hosts, they got eight in a row from Lily Clark to finish off the set.
“That’s one thing the last couple years we’ve focused on,” said Pirate coach Ryan Treese. “When the girls go back to the line, their focus is to serve three times so we win at least one point. I thought we did that in the first and second set. In the third set, I thought we were okay with getting by.”
The second set played out much the same for most of its duration. Cadie Long, Jadine Mills and Linkous all scored once, while Crone and Clark added two points in staking the team to a 13-6 lead. Erlsten got two Golden Knight points after a defensive score to trim the Northmor deficit to four, but Cardington responded with four points from Long and one by Mils to lead 20-10 on their way to taking a 2-0 lead in the match.
Northmor coach Josh Lehman simply felt his team was not in synch in the match.
“Those kids weren’t able to practice very much for the fair and I know Cardington probably faced the same thing,” he said. “We just couldn’t get back in rhythm tonight. The only game we played that was our game was the third game. It would have been nice to see how it went if we could have played our game. Hats off to them; they got us out of rhythm.”
Two points by Long and three from Mills got the Pirates out to a 7-3 lead in the third and they held an 11-6 advantage before Northmor rallied. A defensive point followed by three from Emily Zeger got the team started. One point from Erlsten and three from Blunk gave the visitors a 16-14 advantage.
While Cardington would tie the score a few times, they would not be able to regain the advantage. With the score tied at 22, Northmor was able to get three in a row — two served by Blunk — to send the match to a fourth set.
The Golden Knights wouldn’t be able to complete a big comeback, though. After not scoring on their first service attempt, the Pirates got between one and three points on each of their final eight to pull away, with Mills, Linkous and Audrey Brininger all going on three-point runs to help their team close out the match.
Treese felt his team suffered a letdown in the third set that they needed to work through.
“I’ve told them, they have to have this competitive nature no matter who is on the other side of the net,” he said. “They can’t relax. Any point, any time, somebody can score. It’s a mindset. The word I just used was ‘intent-ivness’. My intent has to be that I’m going to play my position all the time. Not when we’re winning, not when we’re down…all the time.”
For Northmor, Lehman noted that his players made good plays — they just have to do so with more consistency.
“Amanda Kincaid had a great game blocking for us,” he said. “That was the best she’s blocked all season and all the kids had good plays. We just couldn’t put enough together to win the game. We’ve got a good group of girls; it was just an off night for them.”
Cardington improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the KMAC with the win, with wins over Northmor and Fredericktown — two of their top rivals in the league last year. Treese looks at those wins as big positives in his team’s attempt to repeat as conference champs.
“I believe they want to,” he said about his team winning the KMAC again. “I want them to want it all the time. To want to be the target — I’m not sure they’re there yet. I think they’re starting to realize our non-league games mean something. Yeah, we lost to Newark and Big Walnut. We took a set off both of them and easily could have flipped the score in both of them. Those are the ones I’m okay with because they’re Division I schools.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS