Times Sports Editor
Fans got five games of pretty intense volleyball action during Thursday's senior night for Northview.
Not only were seven seniors honored before the game, but the Knights rallied from two games down to force a fifth game that went to the wire before Northview fell to Plainfield, 25-16, 25-16, 17-25, 21-25, 15-13.
Despite the loss, coach Scott McDonald and the players weren't too worried following the match against the team they will open sectional play with in a week.
"Obviously we wanted to win on senior night, but (Plainfield) didn't see anything," McDonald said of his squad's vanilla sets. "We've got a lot of different offensive sets, the defense will be a lot different and the good thing is that I think we saw everything that they had. We didn't play well at all the first two games. Our passing wasn't very good, but we had a little heart-to-heart going into game three and we came out and played a lot better in the last three (games)."
The Knights started most of the seven seniors on the team which includes: Brittaney Long, Stephanie McMains, Brailyn Whitson, Ali Sharton, Alyssa Clarke, Maxine West and Samantha Solomon. The starting lineup was a bit different then the Knights' are used to and the inexperience was taken advantage of by the Quakers.
Game two saw Northview's regular lineup back on the floor, but the Quakers still got off to a strong start, leading 7-2 early in the second game. The Knights struggled to get their offense into any sort of rhythm and had problems with senior Jamie Lydick's float serve. Plainfield opened up a 12-7 lead midway through the game to a double-digit advantage on the way to a two games to none lead.
Northview finally got going in the third and fourth games as Kaylee Clark opened the third game with a kill and Long added a tip shortly afterwards as Northview took a 3-1 lead. The Knights stayed out front on two kills by Clarke, who had nine in the game. Plainfield rallied to take a 13-12 lead on a successful attack by Sarah Janssen before Hannah Hayes and Long tied the game at 14-all. From there, the Knights used several Quaker mistakes to build a 20-15 lead on the way to a 25-17 win.
Game four was tight through the midpoint of the game and was tied at 12-apiece after Lydick served up another ace. From there, a block by Northview freshman, Brylie Riddell sparked the Knights to the lead. A tip by Long built the lead to 22-19 and a huge block by Long and Clarke kept the momentum up as Clarke blocked the final point for a 25-21 Knights' win.
The decisive fifth game was to be played to 15 and the Knights looked well on their way to the win as Riddell, Clarke and Clark each had kills as Northview lead 9-4. However, the Quakers got on a roll as problems from the service line gave Plainfield extra points to rally to 12-9. With Lydick at the service line, she had an ace and Hecht had two kills as Plainfield rallied back to win 15-13 on a kill by Janssen.
"That fifth game was just too many service errors," McDonald said. "We gave them points to get back in it and then we had to scramble to try and finish them off and we just weren't able to do that."
Whitson had a kill and four digs, Hayes had nine kills and 18 assists with Sharton contributing 20 assists and 20 digs. West had three digs, Solomon had two digs and McMains added three digs and two kills. Buck rang up 20 digs on defense and Riddell had five kills, two blocks and four digs.
McDonald was quick to mention his graduating seniors and what they mean to this program.
"Those girls are definitely going to be missed. All seven of them have done something at some point in their four years here, especially during my three years, to build the program up to what it is now," McDonald said. "To get them in there that first game was nice, we'd liked to have gotten them in more, but there's a couple of them that we're not going to let Plainfield see either. They'll definitely be missed and hopefully we can get them a sectional title for the first time in 14 years."
Next match: Northview travels to Danville on Monday before sectional play on Thursday at Martinsville.