Times Sports Editor
The opportunity to knock off a county and a sectional rival on back-to-back evenings doesn't come around too often so Northview's volleyball team took advantage of its shot on Tuesday night by dropping Terre Haute South, 25-13, 27-25, 25-23, one night after defeating Clay City.
Rivalry week is typically reserved for college football and basketball, but the Knights had their own brand of fun at the expense of the Braves and Eels, who each visited to start the week.
After making quick work of the Braves in game one, the match looked as if it might be a walk over for Northview, but that's not how rivalries usually play out and this was no exception.
The Braves came out quick in game two, building a 14-3 lead as Morgan Taylor, Brittney Pink and Marissa Coutinho all had kills to start the game. Ashley Bazier added one of her own attacks and Pink served up an ace as the teams looked completely different than the game on dominance by the Knights.
After Northview freshman McKenzi Kumpf piled up seven kills in the opening set, the Braves made some adjustments in their blocking schemes and kept the Knights off balance early while building their lead.
Mikayla Rowan's kill stopped the Braves run at four, but the Knights still trailed by double digits in game two.
However, one thing that has set this Knights' squad apart this season is its 'never give in' attitude and it paid off handsomely in this match.
A hitting error by the Braves Kaylee Compton started the Knights' rally and then it was Kumpf who ripped a shot to the corner to narrow the gap to 14-7. The comeback continued as Brylie Riddell broke the Braves' serve with one of her three kills and then it was Shelbi Morris that took over, mashing three consecutive kills in what Northview coach Scott McDonald said was her best match of the year.
"When these girls get down there's no panic in it. We just feel like we're going to make enough plays to win and our hitters are going to do enough things to swing us back into games," McDonald said of his front line. "Shelbi (Morris) was outstanding today, probably her best game of the year with 20 kills. We got good swings tonight because our setters put the ball in good spots."
The Braves got an ace by Bazier to temporarily stall the Knights' run, but a pair of kills by Kumpf knotted the score at 23-all, but Compton's attack gave South a one-point advantage and brought up game point at 24-23. This time it was Kumpf with a kill to extend the match. Compton answered back for a 25-24 South lead, but Riddell nailed down the tying kill and a Braves' hitting error followed by a kill by Morris gave the Knights a nail biter.
"That was huge," McDonald said of the second set comeback. "South responded a lot better than I thought they would. That's kind of a kick to the gut when you lose, up 14-4, and we come back and steal one. It's just a matter of how resilient this team is. They have no fear of anybody. It's nice to see, we didn't play particularly smart volleyball that second or third set, but when it came down to crunch time we made the plays we needed to make."
A comeback that might have served as a nail in the coffin for the Braves did no such thing in game three as South jumped out in front again by a 13-7 count.
The Knights were back in the fight once more with Morris knocking down a pair of kills and South helped out with two more mistakes at the net as Northview clawed within 15-13.
The Knights trailed 19-15 after a kill by Rowan returned the serve to the Knights' Ashlen Buck, who piled up 15 digs in the match. Buck immediately served up an ace and a four-point run to tie the game at 19-all.
South edged back ahead on a block from Compton and another kill, but Riddell came up with a big attack and Morris finished off the comeback with two more kills and the win.
"The setting was key and Shelbi finally started swinging the way she's capable of and way we expect her to," McDonald said of his sophomore hitter.
The Knights also got outstanding passing and defense from Briana Cook, who had 23 assists and six digs to go with Taylor Hess' 13 assists and nine digs. Riddell added a team-high 20 digs, Rowan had three kills and Alexus Bex talieed four digs and Hannah Willocks posted several kills.
"(Terre Haute South) has always been a great program and Maddie (Madison Minnick) does a great job," McDonald said. "Any time you can beat a Terre Haute school it's a bonus because they are always good. Our biggest thing today was to try and keep it away from their libero (Marissa Coutinho). The more we kept it away from her, the better off we were. Somehow she kept finding her way there. We're fortunate to get out of here with a win."
The junior varsity also came away with a win as the Knights improved to 11-3 with a 25-14, 25-20 win.
Next match: Northview (17-3 overall) travels to South Vermillion on September 29 for a 6 p.m. match-up.