Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights weren't able to duplicate last year's sectional volleyball magic on Saturday, falling in a three-game match to Plainfield, 25-11, 25-20, 25-16.
Northview has had problems against taller teams for much of the season and the Quakers presented many of the same problems with some talented hitters that stood at 5'10 or 5'11.
The Quakers used some strong passing and a healthy dose of Northview's own hitting errors to claim their second win of the season against the Knights.
Northview coach Scott McDonald was left wondering what could have been if the Knights might have stayed completely healthy this season in defense of their sectional title.
"(Plainfield) is tall and they are athletic and that's not a very good combination to play against when you're not very big," McDonald said. "We may not be a very big team, but we've got as big a heart as any team. This group that won that sectional the way they did last year, you know, (Terre Haute) North and South beat us this year and Plainfield beat us, but they never beat us with our full team.
"Hannah (Hayes) being hurt, it really shows in big matches, her leadership and what she's able to do for us," McDonald added. "Lizzie (Emmert) and Briana (Cook) did a great job setting for us all year, Darcy Bass came along for us all year and Kaylee (Clark) was great as always. That's the bad thing about being a coach, you have to say goodbye to those seniors."
Much like the first meeting between the teams at the end of the regular season, the Knights fought themselves as much as the Quakers.
Northview got behind early in the opening set as a pair of hitting mistakes by the Knights and a kill by Kasey Johnson gave Plainfield a 7-1 lead. A tip by the Knights' Emmert and a block by Brylie Riddell got Northview back to 13-8, but the Quakers continued to roll.
Johnson tallied a kill, a Northview return went wide and a kill from both Lesley Fisher and Mackenzie Motter put the game out of reach at 17-8.
The Knights did maintain the lead on a kill from Emmert and a block from Riddell as Northview built a small, 13-11 lead. The Knights were even at 17-17, but the Quakers ran off four straight points to take a 22-18 advantage.
Plainfield made a pair of mistakes as Northview clawed back within 22-20, but the Knights Shelbi Morris hit a shot wide and an errant return shot gave the Quakers game two.
"We just, between net calls, missed serves and hitting errors, we never put pressure on to try and get a run," McDonald said. "We played a little bit better in that second game, but we had a two or three-point lead and then we got a net call, that could have pushed it to a four or five-point lead, instead we're tied again.
"We needed to get that second game to kind of get some confidence and try and get our composure about us," McDonald said. "We've got young kids out there and it's a new environment for them. They never quit, which is a good sign, but like I said, we kind of self-destructed."
That pivotal second game sent the Quakers into the third game with no shortage of confidence and they quickly took control with a block by Fisher in getting out to a 4-1 lead. Riddell got a tip for the Knights, but the Quakers answered right back with a block by Motter. Northview struggled to keep the serve for more than a couple of points all match and the third game was no exception.
The Quakers moved out to a 9-6 lead on a block by Christine Elrod before Kaylee Clark scored one of her seven kills for the Knights.
Fisher stepped up and ripped off two straight kills to build the Plainfield lead to 17-8 and successful attacks from Motter and Johnson gave the Quakers a 21-10 lead. Clark and Morris each had late kills for the Knights to get within 23-14, but the Quakers closed out the game to advance to the sectional championship match.
The Knights end their season at 21-14 overall and bid goodbye to five seniors as Kalyn Beil, Darcy Bass, Hannah Hayes, Kaylee Clark and Lizzie Emmert concluded their high school volleyball careers.
Northview Class 4A Sectional