Times Sports Editor
Sometimes in a season a team finds its collective backs against the wall and how they respond to that situation can define the future.
On Wednesday night, the Northview volleyball team was up one game, but had fallen behind 19-10 in game two while having Owen Valley dictate the action. Perhaps even tougher to fathom for coach Scott McDonald was the mistakes the Knights were making in communication and hitting.
However, the Knights collectively braced themselves and sophomore Brylie Riddell ripped off six of her 11 aces in the match. Darcy Bass had a block, and Shelbi Morris had a block and a kill as Northview clawed back to win the second game on the way to a three-game victory, 25-23, 25-22, 25-10.
"We came out of the gate really well in that first game," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "The second one though, getting down 19-10, gosh, we had a real good week of practice and then it was like all of a sudden something happened and we showed a lot of fight and confidence. Being down and being able to come back, I told the girls after the match, it was like last year's team. We flipped a switch and suddenly we're never out of a game because of our defense."
In game one it was easy to see during the second half of the set that Owen Valley was displaying plenty of toughness of its own, battling back from a 14-7 deficit to lead the match 17-15 after a nine-point run.
Outside hitter, Taylore Chestnut had three of her kills in a 10-point span and Kendall Hamilton had a pair of aces.
Riddell blasted one of her 11 kills in the game to help Northview open on top early in game two. The sophomore had four digs and two blocks to go with her service prowess in the match.
The Knights trailed 5-4 after a kill by Chestnut and Owen Valley got two aces from her to open up a 9-5 lead. The Patriots continued to keep the pressure on Northview and Allisa Polley's ace and two blocks by Chestnut opened up a 17-9 lead after a kill by Northview's Elizabeth Emmert.
Owen Valley looked to be officially in control after a mishit ball by Riddell, but a tip by Kaylee Clark returned the serve to the Knights trailing 19-10.
From there it was Riddell, who served up a p air of aces around the block by Bass. Morris drilled a kill and added a block and Riddell served up three consecutive aces to forge a tie and a Patriots' timeout.
"(Brylie Riddell) is a weapon any where she is on the floor," McDonald said of his second-year hitter. "She struggled a little bit last week with her serve so we brought her toss down a little in practice. She worked a lot on that serve and (Owen Valley) didn't have an answer for it."
Despite the timeout, the Knights came right back out with another ace before a block attempt went wide with the match tied at 20-all. After each team added one point, Morris added a kill, Chestnut sent an attack long for OV and Alexus Bex gave the Knights a 24-21 lead with a kill that propelled Northview to the win.
The momentum carried straight over to game three as Owen Valley struggled to contain a fired up Knights' team that opened with a kill and a block from Riddell and two service aces from Bex to lead 7-1. Bass added a kill and Kaylee Clark added an ace as the lead grew to 12-3. From there, Northview smelled the victory as Riddell and Clark blocked a shot, Emmert had a kill and a kill from Morris put the Knights over the top.
"We were on such an emotional high. That's a sign of a team that is maturing," McDonald said of putting Owen Valley away in game three. "We're still tinkering with the lineup a little bit, we think we've found something that works a little bit. Our setters, Lizzie (Emmert) and Briana (Cook), I thought did a really nice job tonight. Once we started getting in-system balls, I don't think we had one over-set all night. I'm extremely proud of how they fought and it's a good sign for us heading towards the tournament."
Emmert had 18 assists, three kills and four digs while Clark had eight kills and six digs for the Knights. Audrey Clark posted two digs, Ashlen Buck contributed seven digs and Briana Cook added 11 assists and three digs.
The Northview JV wrapped up a perfect 6-0 mark in the WIC and improved to 15-2 overall with a two-game victory over the Patriots.
The Knights compete in the North Montgomery Invite on Saturday.