Knights survive scare

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Riverside’s Madison Brandon (left) attempts to spike the ball as Northside’s Jordan Woolard (4) looks to block it during the Knights’ 3-1 victory at Riverside High School Tuesday. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

WILLIAMSTON — Riverside coach Herbie Rogers called timeout after timeout in an attempt to get his volleyball team to snap back to form and in the end the Knights regained their touch just in time to hold off Northside and claim 3-1 victory over the Panthers on Tuesday in Four Rivers Conference action.
The Knights (18-1, 12-0) breezed through their first two games as they topped the Panthers 25-13, 25-13, but got complacent and allowed Northside (5-8, 5-6) to spike them 25-19 in the third match.
Playing with confidence, the Panthers forced four ties in the fourth game but Riverside dug deep and regained its focus to seal the deal with a 25-17 victory.
“I feel like between the second and third games we lost our focus,” Riverside coach Herbie Rogers said. “When we stepped out on the court I knew we had lost our focus and if you’re not focused then it’s tough to play.”
Up and down games are nothing new to Northside, and on Tuesday the Panthers showed both ends of the spectrum.
“The first game we didn’t show up to play. The second game we got a little closer but we were still just dead,” Northside coach Tami Wagaman said. “In the third game I subbed a bunch of people in and got a new rotation going and it seemed to make a big difference. I wanted (the starters) to know that they don’t always have a spot. They have to work for it like everybody else and it worked.”
The Panthers were led by Jordan Woolard who tallied 12 kills, along with Alexandria Cutler who had eight. Brittney Alligood totaled a team-high 27 assists.
Madison Brandon spearheaded the Knights attack as she racked up 12 kills and seven service points, while Rachel Baker added eight kills and seven service points. Setter Kasey Hall routinely set up the Riverside net players as she dished out a game-high 47 assists. Alex Hardison got it done on the defensive end as she blocked six attempts.
“I thought the first two games we did a good job of serving which kept them out of offense and we were clicking,” said Rogers, whose team won its 13th straight game of the year.
Trailing by two games, the Panthers were able to jump out to a 14-7 lead in the third and withstood a Knights’ rally that cut the lead to 19-18 after an ace by Brandon. Northside would end the match with a 6-1 run to avoid the sweep.
Getting a match victory is no easy feat against the Knights and Wagaman said she hopes it gives her players confidence as they head toward the end of the regular season.
“I think it’s very encouraging,” Wagaman said. “Of course you would rather win than just get one game, but to see my girls come back and fight against the No. 1 team in the conference has to give them some confidence.”
In the fourth game, the Knights found themselves in a 14-14 tie but recaptured their earlier form and went on an 11-3 run to close out the game.
“I thought in the end we played really well,” Rogers said. “Our serving came through for us and we made them make errors.”