NASHVILLE -- The long morning trip to Nashville for a pair of Western Indiana Conference volleyball games proved worth it on Saturday as Northview earned a pair of three-game victories against the host Eagles and visiting Sullivan, a team that has given the Knights fits in recent years. A loss to Sullivan last season cost the Knights a conference title and the Arrows took Northview to five games in a 2009 WIC battle. However, the Knights were up to the task of earning the sweep on Saturday.
The Knights opened against the Eagles and cruised to a 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 victory as Audrey Clark starred on defense with 16 digs to go with 10 from Ashlen Buck. Brylie Riddell did yeomen's work on both sides as she piled up 11 digs to go with eight kills, a block and two aces.
Northview coach Scott McDonald noted that his team started slow against a solid Brown County team with some size.
"They were an excellent blocking team that threw a lot of blockers and schemes at us. Our hitters became a little timid at first and then we made some adjustment to what we were doing offensively and we hit much better," McDonald said. Audrey had a great game on defense and McKenzi (Kumpf) hit the ball very well. We were down in the first game pretty big, and fought back to win a tough first set, after that we controlled the match."
Kumpf had a team-high 11 kills for the Knights to go with eight digs and a pair of aces. Shelbi Morris posted five kills and two digs with Mikayla Rowan adding two kills, two digs and a block. Briana Cook passed out 13 assists and added two kills. Taylor Hess had 11 assists, two kills, four digs and two aces. Hannah Willocks had three kills, a dig and an assist for the Knights. Alexus Bex added in two digs for Northview.
In game two, Sullivan played Northview close in game one, but the Knights made some changes and took over the match for a 25-22, 25-17, 25-20 victory.
"Again, we faced another big blocking team and we made hitting adjustments and really hit the ball well the entire match," McDonald said. "Briana and Taylor really controlled our tempo very well putting the ball in spots that we wanted to get our swings."
Cook and Hess combined for 35 assists in the game as Northview drilled the Arrows for a total of 40 kills. Kumpf had 15 kills to lead the way as Riddell had 11 and Morris posted 10 for the Knights. Cook had a game-high 20 assists to go with five digs and Hess had eight digs to go with 15 assists.
However, it was the impressive hitting attack that impressed McDonald.
"McKenzi was huge in this match, just like Brylie and Shelbi. Those three really carried the load offensively in this match," McDonald said.
Defensively, Buck was masterful with 18 digs for Northview as Kumpf had eight digs and three aces with Riddell adding 14 digs. Willocks had three digs, Bex had two digs and an assist and Clark added seven digs in the win. Rowan posted two kills, a dig and an assist.
"Ashlen was simply Ashlen, there is nothing to say but that," McDonald said of his senior libero. "She was incredible all day in both serve receive and defense. We found ourselves down in the first set by maybe six or seven points and fought our way back. We found ourselves down 13-4 in the third set and roared back. The mental toughness of this team and it's ability to fight is like I have never seen in coaching. I couldn't have been more proud of my girls for the way they stuck together and pulled out two very tough conference wins."
The Knights are now 14-3 overall, 3-0 in the WIC and play host to West Vigo this evening at 6 p.m.
At Brown County
Northview 25 25 25
Brown County 20 18 20
Northview 25 25 25
Sullivan 22 17 20
Next match: Northview (14-3 overall, 3-0 WIC) hosts West Vigo tonight at 6 p.m.