Times Sports Editor
MARTINSVILLE -- The Northview volleyball team won a sectional volleyball game forged with mettle on Thursday evening, defeating Plainfield, 25-27, 25-17, 18-25, 25-17, 15-11.
The score only shows part of the rollercoaster ride that the Knights were on as they overcame two different game deficits and the loss of senior starter Alyssa Clarke to a probable season ending knee injury in the second game of the match. The Knights had already lost game one in a tense 27-25 battle and had bounced back to lead game two 21-16.
Clarke was in the midst of a dominant run with two kills and a block to put the Knights up 24-16 after her block. However, she came down awkwardly and immediately it was apparent that she had injured her right knee just a season after her left knee injury ended her season prematurely.
Coach Scott McDonald knew the injury was going to affect the team, not just due to the loss of a great player, but also mentally.
The Knights picked up the second game victory, but couldn't overcome some of their own errors and a four kills, three block game by the Quakers Savannah Hecht. Her string of two kills and two blocks in a row tied the game at 15-all and the Quakers ended the game on a 7-0 run.
Facing possible elimination if they lost game four, the Knights rallied together as Clarke joined her team on the bench, which seemed to boost everyone's spirits.
"In game two we played better and in game three we had a lead and let them back in it and in games four and five we started playing with a chip on our shoulders like this was our game to win and we did," McDonald said.
Brylie Riddell took over in a string of two kills and a block and a service ace to put the Knights up 12-7 and Brittaney Long added two of her 19 kills in the game to push the lead to 16-12. The duo's efforts are indicative of what McDonald feels his team is going to need against the Braves in Saturday's semifinal.
"Brylie (Riddell) and Brittaney (Long) are going to have to carry this offense," McDonald said. "The other ones are going to have to contribute, but we need to eliminate the little mistakes like we had in the first game. We had six service errors and we lost 27-25."
Long and Riddell also got plenty of help from the team's emotional sparkplug, Hannah Hayes. The junior added two kills and a block to essentially put the fourth game out of reach and not the match at two games apiece.
In the final game to 15, the Quakers committed a number of errors as the Knights built a small lead at 9-7 following a kill from Kaylee Clark, who had 10 in the game to go with 18 digs. A kill by Long and a service ace by Clark gave the Knights a 13-10 lead and Northview finished off the emotional win three points later.
Ashlen Buck had 30 digs for the Knights, Ridell had 16 kills and seven digs with Ali Sharton adding 19 assists coupled with Hayes' 31 assists and seven kills. Brailyn Whitson had five digs and Alyssa Clarke had six kills in less than two games.
The Knights take on the Braves at Martinsville beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday.