Times Sports Editor
MARTINSVILLE -- Northview took the first step to a sectional championship Thursday night by cruising past Mooresville in a three-game sweep, 25-21, 25-13, 25-19.
The opening game was a bit of a battle as Mooresville stayed close throughout most of the set. The Knights helped them out with a few jitters and some uncharacteristic mistakes in the early going. The game was tied at 4-all early on before Northview started swinging with deadly accuracy.
Shelbi Morris gave the Knights the lead with one of her 10 kills and it was Northview's blocking that opened the gap. Brylie Riddell stuffed a shot and Morris added one of her own and the Knights led 9-5 as Northview settled in.
"A lot of anxiety was in this first match, especially with a younger team. We have some girls at key positions that have never been here before," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "Once they got settle in there after that first game we played a lot better. Our ball control was really good. We were able to get two or three options almost every swing in serve receive. Obviously that was critical for us. Getting the first (win) out of the way was very important for us."
Mooresville got within 14-12 as Pioneers' senior Callan Swaim's tip found the court, but Riddell responded with an attack. Audrey Baysinger posted a kill to get Mooresville within 15-13 and the game stayed within two or three points until the end.
A tip by Northview senior Briana Cook edged the Knights up 19-17 and Mikayla Rowan put a shot away with the aid of some miscommunication by Mooresville to break a 19-all tie.
From there, back-to-back hitting errors by the Pioneers opened the door for the Knights and Kenzi Kumpf smashed one of her team-high 11 kills to help give Northview the opening win.
Game two started out well for the Knights as Morris and Riddell drilled a pair of kills, but was Taylor Hess at the service line that helped Northview run off four straight points to open a 7-3 lead.
"We got off to a pretty good start in that first game then that poor girl got hurt. We talked about a few years ago when Alyssa (Clarke) got hurt, their play elevates when you are playing for an injured teammate," McDonald said.
Any thoughts of a Mooresville rally quickly dissipated as Northview ran off 10 straight points with Cook serving. Kumpf, Rowan and Alexus Bex had two kills in the run that pushed the margin to 22-9 and put game two away for the Knights.
"We wanted to make sure we dictated the tempo and kept the pressure on their defense. I thought, about halfway through that second game, we hade a four or five-point run and I thought our hitters just began to wear (Mooresville) out," McDonald said. "Our setters were moving the ball around a lot. So we were going one-on-one on a lot of our swings, which really helps."
In the final game, the Knights' defense remained outstanding with Buck piling up several more of her 19 digs. Audrey Clark finished up with 16 digs and Riddell added 12 digs to go with two blocks.
The Knights held a 12-10 lead before two kills from Morris pushed the lead to 15-10. The Pioneers got as close as 18-15, but Northview finished strong to pull away at the end and advance.
Cook had 19 assists for the Knights with Hess adding 11 with six digs. Hannah Willocks posted two digs and an assist and Bex added three digs and two assists.
The Knights advance to Saturday's 11 a.m. contest against Martinsville.
Class 4A Martinsville Sectional
Next match: Northview (31-3) plays on Saturday at 11 a.m. against Martinsville, which defeated Terre Haute North.