Times Sports Editor
TERRE HAUTE -- If the Northview volleyball team was looking for a test of its mettle, they certainly got it in the opening round of the Terre Haute North Sectional.
The postseason has rarely been kind to the Knights in recent years, but on Thursday, it was Northview that was celebrating after scoring a five-game victory over Plainfield to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
The Knights had their backs to the wall for much of the match, losing in the first game, 17-25 and later trailing two games to one in the best of five-match. Even more, Northview trailed 22-20 in the fourth, and what could have been final, game.
But the Knights rallied in that game, getting a pair of kills from Brittaney Long and one from Hannah Emmert on match point to force the decisive fifth game.
In the final game played to 15, the Knights got out front early and held of a late Plainfield rally to win 15-12 to claim the match, 17-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12.
"We shook the butterflies off in that first game," said coach Scott McDonald. "We had too many errors. But in that final game, everyone did something whether it was a block, a dig or a kill.
"This is a great start," continued McDonald. "We were able to maintain composure, down 2-1 and win that fourth game. We'll play a lot better on Saturday now that all the nerves are out of the way."
Whether or not any of the girls on the court felt the pressure late in the match is up to debate, but there were plenty of anxious moments for the fans in a wild battle for the fourth game.
After Plainfield won a tight third game, they were able to ride that momentum into game four where they had a two-point lead for most of the early stages.
Leading 13-12 after a kill from sophomore Sarah Janssen, the Quakers saw Northview rally back on a kill and a block from Hannah Emmert to knot the score at 14-all.
Plainfield would rally though behind a kill from Janssen and a hitting error to knot the game at 20-apiece. Plainfield then scored the next two points, grabbing a 22-20 lead after Hannah Hayes' hitting error.
But with their backs collectively against the wall, these Knights struck back.
Lizzie Emmert struck for one of her five kills and one of Long's 13 kills gave the Knights a 22-all tie. The rally continued with a net violation from the Quakers, which put the Knights ahead 24-22. However, Lizzie Emmert's attack went wide on game-point to narrow the gap to 24-23.
Hannah Emmert blasted one of her 10 kills to give the Knights a tie match at two games apiece and force the decisive fifth game.
In the final game, the Knights put it all together early, taking a 7-4 lead Kasey Johnson's attack went long for the Quakers. Hayes nailed down a kill as the lead grew to 9-6 for the Knights.
The lead was 13-8 and the Knights were on the verge of a victory, but three straight hitting errors left the score at 13-12. But Hayes mashed a shot for a 14-12 lead and on match-point, Plainfield's return hit the ceiling.
Samantha Solomon contributed six kills and two blocks up front for the Knights and Kaylee Clark provided help on both defense and offense with 17 digs and nine kills. Hayes added 21 assists, nine kills and a block for the Knights and Ali Sharton had 19 assists.
Freshman Ashlen Buck stood out with her defensive effort in her first postseason match.
"Ashlen was out of this world passing the ball," said McDonald. "I don't think she made a bad pass all night. As a freshman to step into this type of environment is amazing."
The Knights take on Mooresville, another five-game winner, on Saturday following the 11 a.m. match between the host Terre Haute South Braves and Martinsville.
Terre Haute North Sectional
Next games: Northview and Mooresville play Saturday following the 11 a.m. match between Terre Haute South and Martinsville.