Times Sports Editor
PLAINFIELD -- For the second straight season, Martinsville proved to be the team to end Northview's volleyball season.
Needing a strong all-around game against an Artesians team that came in with a 27-4 overall record and receiving votes in the Class 4A poll, the Knights struggled with their hitting against an Artesians' squad that boasted strong blocking all night. In addition, the Knights were unable to get into much of an offensive rhythm.
"We had a ton of hitting errors, we had 14 assists, we just couldn't get our serve receive going," Northview coach Scott McDonald said. "It was just hard for us to give our hitters a chance to swing. When we couldn't get into a passing system, then we had to give them free balls and (Martinsville) is good. There's just no two ways about it. They aren't getting votes in the state poll by accident. We did the things that we had talked about, we didn't let tips beat us, we served pretty well. We just didn't serve receive like we had to."
Martinsville was able to break away in each of the three games after the Knights remained close during the early stages.
In the opening set, the Knights held a 7-6 lead after a kill by Brylie Riddell, a tip from Shelbi Morris and a service ace from Riddell. However, Martinsville answered right back with back-to-back kills from Kimberly Mills to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish. A Northview hitting error and a block by Makayla Ferguson helped the Artesians strong together seven straight points to take control of the game.
The Knights climbed back within 18-12 after a kill by Riddell, but Martinsville finished the set out on a 7-2 run to earn the first set victory.
The second set had a familiar look with the Knights within 6-4 early before a kill by Cailin Nix sparked a 6-0 run. A kill by Mills, an ace by Gabby Fisher and a kill by Nix pushed the lead to 12-4 for the Artesians.
Fisher was tough all evening on the Knights with five kills and a pair of blocks. Martinsville continued to dominate the set after a kill by the Knights' McKenzi Kumpf got Northview within 18-7. However, the Artesians got a block from Mills and kills from Fisher and Teylor Rains to close out a 25-14 victory.
"(Gabby Fisher) is a great player. She played with the Circle City team with (former Knight) Ashlen (Buck). She's a great athlete and a great hitter. Unfortunately she's a junior," McDonald joked.
In the final game, the Knights stayed within striking distance through the midpoint as a net violation got Northview within 12-8, but a pair of hitting errors by the Knights helped Martinsville run out to a 17-9 lead. The Knights got a pair of aces from Kumpf and a block by Riddell to get within 17-12. One of Martinsville's few hitting mistakes got the Knights within 21-15, but one of Mills' eight kills and an ace by Nix helped Martinsville close out the victory.
Northview got seven digs from Audrey Clark and six from Hannah Willocks. Both Madison McDonald and Kumpf had three. Morris had a team-high seven kills and both Riddell and Kumpf had four. McDonald had nine assists to go with five from Taylor Hess.
The Knights finish the season at 28-6 overall and bid goodbye to seniors Alexus Bex, Willocks and Riddell.
"I'd say that Brylie (Riddell) is the best player that Northview has ever seen from a hitting standpoint. She holds the school record for kills, blocks and aces in her career," McDonald said. "She's a huge loss, but Alexus (Bex) and Hannah (Willocks) were just as important. Alexus has been with us for four years and Hannah has been with us for two. The thing we try to build here at Northview with Coach Mogan and myself, is a family atmosphere. . .I let the three seniors speak and they said, 'You're all like sisters to us.' That's the kind of thing we want to build our program around."