Panthers win season opener|Roll past Lakers in three sets

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, August 18, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
YEATESVILLE — Northside’s first-year volleyball coach Mandy McGaha got her Panthers’ career off to a good start on Tuesday as her team topped Mattamuskeet 25-7, 25-11, 25-12 in Northside’s season opener.
The Panthers looked solid in their 2010 debut as they got contributions at the net by Rachel Hollowell and Jordan Woolard, while Jordan Cooke and Sarah Credle kept the Lakers off balance with their strong serves.
McGaha, who took over for Tami Wagaman, said she was happy to start off the season with a win.
“I feel pretty good, I was a little nervous because I have never coached at the high school level before, and this is my first year teaching too,” McGaha said. “I was a little nervous before the game, but now I feel well.”
The Northside players helped calm their rookie coach’s nerves by jumping out to a 15-1 lead over Mattamuskeet (0-1), who was also being coached by a first-year skipper in Melody Joe Williams, who is a Mattamuskeet graduate.
Williams, who coached softball last season at Pungo, acknowledged that she has her work cut out for her at her alma matter.
“The main thing with them is that they just need to be taught,” Williams said. “We are still running the basics … But they work hard and are willing to learn.”
The Panthers rolled to an easy victory in the first set as the Lakers would only score back-to-back points once the entire match.
“I think they look good right now, defense is probably something we focused on the most this summer,” McGaha said. “But we will probably need to work more on hitting and being more aggressive.”
McGaha credited several players for helping the team get off to a 1-0 start.
“Rachel Hollowell and Sarah Credle each had a really good serving game,” McGaha said. “I thought Jordan Cooke also had a great day serving.”
The Lakers picked up their play in the second set as they managed to notch 11 points in the loss, and at one point scored three straight times. However, another fast start by Northside was too much for Mattamuskeet to overcome.
The Panthers held a 15-3 lead before the Lakers began to fight back, scoring four out of the next six points, but by then the game was out of reach.
Mattamuskeet hung tough in the third set. The Lakers were down 8-6 early on, but the Panthers ripped off am 11-2 run to seal the deal.
Despite the solid season opener, McGaha said there are still plenty of things the team needs to work on.
“The defense is always going to have to get better,” McGaha said. “There is no such thing as a perfect defense, every week it needs to get better. Serving (too), the last point of each game we just couldn’t get a serve. But I think that is just nerves, it’s a lot of pressure.”
The Panthers will look to build on its momentum today when it plays at Edenton.