After winning the first two sets against host Northmor, the Cardington volleyball team found itself in trouble in the third.
Northmor opened the third with five points from Lizzie Erlsten and held an advantage for much of the set. While a point from Payton Goodman and two from Jadine Mills got the Pirates within a 12-11 margin, the Golden Knights bounced back with a point by Amanda Kincaid and three from Ali Sheriff in increasing that advantage to a 19-13 count.
However, with the score 20-14 and Northmor serving, Cardington was able to get a defensive point and then Goodman served 10 straight times for scores as the Pirates won the third set 25-20 to earn the sweep. They won the first two by scores of 25-17 and 25-16.
“This is probably our third or fourth match in a row where we turned it on when we needed to,” said Cardington coach Ryan Treese. “We said it’s good, but sometime it might catch up to us where we can’t turn it on.”
After his team’s slow start to open the third set, Treese felt it was important that his team didn’t let Northmor continue to pull away.
“We talk about no runs,” he said. “They had that 5-0 run, but after that, I don’t know if they ever increase it past six. We hung around, we hung around and then took the momentum. Even when we were still down, I felt we had the momentum.”
While Northmor coach Josh Lehman would have preferred a different ending to the set and match, he did think his team gave a good effort.
“We played well, but it wasn’t quite enough to get over the last bit and win the game,” he said. “I really thought the girls played great that last set and they played very well the first set. The second set, we struggled a little bit, but it’s hard to maintain that much intensity and momentum. They’ve got more kids on the team, so it’s easier for them to get some fresh legs in there.”
The two teams played evenly in the opening points of the first set. Cardington would get three points by Madison Linkous to open up a 10-6 advantage, but two points by Erlsten helped get Northmor within a 12-11 margin, but the team wouldn’t score on offense the rest of the set.
Meanwhile, the Pirates got two points from Mills, one by Lily Clark, one by Goodman and two more from Mills to pull away and take the set by eight points.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the second set, Mills scored six straight points to give her team a lead they would not surrender. Audrey Brininger scored two and Linkous added three to boost their team’s lead to 17-8 in a set they would not be threatened in.
Cardington wound up needing to make some adjustments in the third set, though. Northmor was able to keep the Pirates on their heels with strong play in the middle.
“Amanda Kincaid has done a phenomenal job in the middle for us and then Abby (Conant) stepped in — she’s another senior — and did great,” said Lehman.
However, the Pirate defensive adjustments did a good job of helping them take control of the match.
“We made one adjustment in our defense with our blockers and our DS on their middle because what they were getting a lot of their kills on in the third set was their middle attack,” he said. “So we adjusted our defense and our blockers back and it made a hell of a difference to be able to get the ball back out to Audrey on the pin and most likely when she swings, it’s going to be a kill.”
With the win, Cardington movies to 14-3. Northmor falls to 6-11, but Lehman feels his team is better than that record indicates.
“We played a hard schedule this year, so even though our record doesn’t look the best, we played a hard schedule,” he said. “When you look at our point spread, we average scoring 24 points a game and they score 27 against us. Three-point difference, so we’re right there with every team we’ve played. So, I feel in tournament time, we have as good a chance as anybody.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS