Times Sports Editor
Building confidence with a team early in the season is pivotal to success later in the year, especially after tough defeat.
"(Getting a win tonight) was extremely important," coach Scott McDonald said. "(The Knights) were really upset to get beat against North. We're still trying to figure out how to put teams away. We got up 2-0 against North and let them back in it and I thought we were going to do that tonight, but it's good to get that confidence especially with a conference game (Thursday) and of course a huge tournament this weekend at Avon where there is no slouch. It was a nice win against a good team."
The service game gave Northview a huge boost, especially in the first game as Kaylee Clark posted a pair of early aces after kills by Brittaney Long and Hannah Hayes. Freshman Brylie Riddell also added three aces in a 6-0 Northview run that put the Knights ahead 14-3.
"We put a lot of time into our serving to make sure we put (Rockville) out of system and we did that tonight," McDonald said. "We served the ball really well. We had a lot of jump serves and a lot of top spin serves and put the pressure on (Rockville's) defense and when you do that you can make them one-dimensional.
One of the keys coming into the game was keeping the Rox biggest hitter, Beth Mahurin, from dominating up front. The Knights did an outstanding job of keeping the Rox from setting her up in good position for offensive opportunities.
Eight service aces in the first game alone immediately put the Rox in a hole they couldn't climb out of as Northview rolled to a big win in the opening game.
The second game was considerably closer and was tied at 7-all early on. However, a kill attempt by Mahurin went out and Alyssa Clarke served up another ace for the Knights followed by a kill by Kaylee Clark to put the Knights out front 10-7.
With a 10-9 lead, a pair of kills by Riddell, who had four in the game to go with seven aces, extended the gap to 13-9. Riddell then pushed the lead out to 19-11 with three straight aces before Mahurin landed a kill.
Rockville would get within 21-15 before Clark launched a kill and Ali Sharton served up an ace to put the game out of reach.
The final game of the night was the closest as Rockville got several of their hitters untracked late in the game.
Lizzie Emmert blasted two impressive kills early for the Knights, who led 11-7. The lead would grow as big as 20-12 following two of Long's nine kills before Rockville responded.
The Rox got a service ace of their own followed by a tip from Ashley Stevens and a hitting error by Emmert to creep within 21-18. Another kill by Stevens and an ace from Emma Riffe and a kill by Lindsey Greene got Rockville within 23-21, but Hannah Hayes came up big with a momentum shifting spike and the game concluded with a Rockville service ace.
McDonald credited his front line with keeping Rockville off balance up front and challenging the Rox hitters.
"(Beth Mahurin) got a couple of touches early on and taking her out of system and out of the continuity of their offense (was important)," McDonald said. "She got a few swings, but our middles did a great job. Both Brylie (Riddell) and Alyssa (Clarke) set the tone early with blocking."
Sharton and Hayes combined for 28 assists in the game and both Clark and Buck had eight digs apiece in the win. Brailyn Whitson had three digs for the Knights, who improve to 3-1 overall.
The junior varsity Knights were winners by a 25-14, 25-19 score as Alexus Bex had six kills and Kalyn Beil added five. Briana Cook had seven assists and Taylar Yocom had two. Coach Greg Mogan credited both Abby Hayes and Emma Nicoson with excellent passing in the win.
Next match: Northview hosts Edgewood on Thursday at 6 p.m.