Times Sports Editor
The annual county volleyball battle between Clay City and Northview has taken a backseat to the cause that it has represented and the people it has honored the last few years. Both teams sold t-shirts to help raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation that is the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer.
A large crowd was on hand to support the survivors of the disease and to remember those lost as a large portion of the crowd wore pink shirts with both coaches and their teams also sporting special pink jerseys.
"I'll tell you that the crowd was outstanding. Both teams sold a lot of t-shirts, which helps the (Susan B. Komen) Foundation. It was nice to see all of the pink involved tonight, honoring the survivors and some extremely brave women who have battled a terrible disease. I lost my grandmother to it so this has a special place for me," Northview coach Scott McDonald said.
Once the match tipped off, Northview was mostly in control from the start as Clay City struggled with its serve in the first game and the Knights power at the net took over late in a 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 victory.
McDonald was quick to mention the support of a raucous student section that was the largest of the season.
"That was the first volleyball game I can remember that we had all of the bleachers rolled out. Clay City brought a nice crowd. The student section was bigger than a basketball game. The big thing is that those kids have made coming to a volleyball game cool," McDonald said. "It's an event more than anything now, our student section is just amazing. So far this year I think they are our MVP. I think they really had an effect on Clay City in that first game. I think (Clay City) had seven service errors."
From there, the Knights strung together a 7-2 run to take control of the match and Hannah Willocks posted a kill and McKenzi Kumpf added a block to push the lead to 21-14 as the Knights took a one-game lead.
Despite some early attack errors, McDonald felt that his team just needed to settle in and get into a rhythm.
In game two, Brylie Riddell posted two early kills as part of her six kill match and Clay City's Brielle Drelick added a kill, but the Knights jumped out to an 8-3 quickly. Rowan, who had three kills, gave the Knights a 10-5 lead. The Eels' Halli Brewer added one of her four kills, but Kumpf responded with back-to-back attacks to push the lead to 12-6. Chloe Kittle lined an attack inside the back line for the Eels and a Clay City block made the score 17-10.
The Eels would remain within six points late in the set before a net violation by the Knights and a kill by Drelick got Clay City within 20-17. With momentum swinging towards the Eels, Jeffers served wide to return the serve to the Knights and Kumpf drilled three of her eight kills to end the game.
Clay City started well in game three with a kill by Drelick and a block by Jeffers for a 3-1 Eels' lead. However, Northview ran off four straight points before a kill by Shelbi Morris and two hitting errors by Clay City led to an 11-4 Knights' lead. Northview's Ashlen Buck, who had 15 digs, served up an ace to grow the lead to 14-7. Willocks posted a kill and Drelick responded with on of her own, but Rowan and Kumpf succeeded with attacks to push the lead to 18-11.
Kumpf would effectively put the match out of reach with back-to-back aces and the Eels had consecutive hitting mistakes for a 23-12 lead. Riddell would finish the match with a block for the victory.
Taylor Hess and Briana Cook teamed for 23 assists with Cook adding seven digs to go with five from Audrey Clark. The Eels got 11 assists from Emmie Kittle and 10 digs from Callie Dayhuff
In the junior varsity match-up, the Knights squeezed past in game one for a 25-24 win before handling game two 25-10 to improve to 10-3 this season.
Next match: Northview (16-3 overall) travels to South Vermillion on Sept. 29. Clay City (8-5) travels to Eminence on Thursday.