Panthers win season opener

Published 5:43 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
YEATESVILLE — For the second day in a row the Washington volleyball team fell in three straight sets as Northside topped the Pam Pack 25-23, 25-17, 25-17 Tuesday to give the Panthers a season opening victory.
While the results were the same for the Pack as Monday’s battle with Williamston, the play was much improved.
Washington played with a lot of energy, particularly in the first two games and showed improvement in their return game and net play.
The Pam Pack’s first-year coach Tara Hunter is still trying to play catch up with her team, and has yet to hold a practice because of a hold up in the hiring process this summer. On Tuesday she said Washington played more consistently, but has a lot of room for improvement.
While the Pack’s play was consistent, the Panthers were anything but, especially on serves. However, when it counted the most, Northside was able to get it together.
The two teams fought point-for-point throughout the first game, and the Pack started to distance themselves from the Panthers when Lilly Ann Arnold rattled off four straight service points to give the Pack a 15-11 lead.
The Panthers clawed back, and were able to take control of the game behind the play off Amanda Beirne, Jamie Respess and Alicia Brewer.
A pair of Beirne aces left followed by a Brewer kill was able to knot the score at 20. From there, the panthers were able to on a 5-3 run highlighted by two Respess aces and another Brewer kill.
Brewer had a big day at the net for Northside, and game up with clutch points throughout all three games.
Game two followed much of the same format as the first one, and late in the match the Panthers clung to a 17-15 lead.
Once again, Northside’s serving was shaky in the early portion of the game, but when it was crunch time, the Panthers came up big.
Respess rattled off five straight service points that featured three straight aces to give Northside a 22-15 cushion en route to a 25-17 victory.
Washington’s Sierra Weatherington, Arnold and Destiny Tyson provided a spark early in the match with their net play, but could not lift the team over the hump.
Serving played a critical role in the final match as well. Northside’s Whitney Lewis gave her team a big lift early on when she dealt three straight aces to put the Panthers up 7-1.
Once again, Washington tallied 17 points, but in this time nearly half of them came from Northside unforced errors on serves. Despite the miscues, the Pack was unable to take advantage as it fell to 0-2 on the season.
Hunter said lack of practice time helped contribute to Washington’s inability to close out tight games.
The Pack will play its third straight game today when it hosts Farmville Central, while the Panthers will also be in action today when it travels to Columbia.