Panthers hold off Redskins|Hollowell comes up big for Northside

Published 7:37 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sports Editor

YEATESVILLE — When “Rocket Rachel” is on, the Northside Panthers are a dangerous team.
“Rocket Rachel” Hollowell was certainly on Tuesday. The sophomore pounded 13 kills and had two blocks in leading the Panthers (6-5, 3-3) to a four-game win — 25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20 — over a pesky Roanoke squad in Tuesday’s Four Rivers Conference volleyball clash.
Hollowell really came alive in the fourth game, especially after a replay was called with the teams deadlocked at 14-apiece.
The sophomore had a thunderous slam that gave Northside a 15-14 lead, and the Panthers wouldn’t relinquish it.
“We just tried to get it back,” Hollowell said. “We just wanted to work as hard as we could.”
Hollowell followed that with a nifty tip that gave Northside a 16-14 edge. Whitney Lewis, who had nine kills, rattled off four points during a key run that gave her Panthers a 19-14 lead.
Hollowell had a couple of service points a short time later for a 23-18 lead, and Jordan’s Cooke serve capped the match.
Hollowell played a pivotal role in the win as she proved to be a dominating presence at the net.
“I think I’ve improved a lot (since the beginning the season),” Hollowell said.
Her coach agrees.
“Rachel has come alive this year,” Northside coach Tami Wagaman said. “She hits it out a lot, but she’s still only a sophomore. She’s learning, and when she gets on top of it, she’s a good hitter. She’s also a lot more vocal this year.”
Roanoke actually kept Northside quiet early, using a 9-2 run to take a 13-9 lead in the first game. Freshman Jordan Woolard, who tallied seven kills, had three spikes and Cooke rattled off six straight service points to give Northside a 17-14 lead. Roanoke pulled within 24-22, but Hollowell’s bash gave the Panthers the win.
Hollowell played strong again in the second game, but Roanoke was able to take a 25-23 win. A late 6-1 spurt gave the Redskins the momentum at the end of the game.
Her team’s play against the Redskins didn’t sit well with Wagaman.
“It’s like this every game,” Wagaman said. “I feel like a broken record. I tell (my players) to quit playing down to others and play their game. They don’t; they don’t play their game and they don’t show people how good they really are.
“That’s frustrating as a coach, to know how good they can be, but they play down.”
Savanna Boyd got hot from the serve line, while Lewis and Hollowell had clutch smashes early in the third game, giving the Panthers an 11-3 cushion. After two more Hollowell kills, Sara Credle served the final three points for a 25-14 win, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
The teams played evenly early in the fourth game, until Hollowell took over at the net.
The Panthers play at Southside on Thursday.