Panthers fall to Riverside, eliminated from postseason

Published 8:51 pm Thursday, October 23, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS TOUGH LUCK: Northside’s Kendall Alligood and Rachel Lang exchange glances prior to the game-winning point from Riverside.

TOUGH LUCK: Northside’s Kendall Alligood and Rachel Lang exchange glances prior to the game-winning point from Riverside.

WILLIAMSTON — The Riverside volleyball team made quick work of Northside Thursday night in the third round of the 1-A state playoffs, eliminating the Panthers from postseason play.

Executing their game plan accordingly, the Knights double blocked senior kill leader Alex Adams, virtually taking her out of the equation, and kept junior setter Kendall Alligood uncomfortable throughout the night. Frustrated by not only Riverside’s fundamentally sound play, but also an explicitly conservative head referee, Northside became distraught early, their body language indicating desperation.

“They’re a tough team,” said head coach Kayla Maddox. “They blocked almost everything we threw at them. They had some great defense and my girls were getting frustrated with the calls we weren’t getting. They go in their own heads. It was a combination of what they did right and what we did wrong.”

Up 4-1 in the first game, Riverside’s Dani Roberson placed a serve just out of the reach of sophomore Rachel Lang. Following the ace, the Knights went on to score nine-straight points, expanding their lead to 14. Four Game 1 kills from Klairia Greene and three from Roberson drove Riverside to a comfortable 25-10 win.

The Knights would prevent their opponent from capturing a lead in the second game as well. Adams picked up her first kill of the match on the first Northside point, but a block from Greene and kills from Olivia Griffin and Alexis Price gave Riverside a three-point lead, one they wouldn’t give up.

Down three late in the game, Maddox subbed out Adams, a rare late-game move, and adjusted the rotation accordingly, but to no avail. Riverside’s defense continued to dig out kill attempts, supporting the front line. The home team took the second game, 25-18.

Between games, a stirring pep talk from Maddox gave the Panthers a bit of life to start the third game. Adams notched a kill and two aces early, providing her team with a three-point advantage, but two net violations and a couple unforced errors quickly erased the lead and, with it, the momentum.

Holding Northside to just two kills, Riverside easily took the third and final game, 25-12.

Adams was held to a season-low three kills on the night, while Alligood was limited to seven assists.

Despite the loss, Northside finishes the season with a respectable 14-7 record and two playoff victories.

“I reminded them that we’ve done something that no other Northside team has done,” Maddox said. “There’s a lot to be proud of, even though it’s never easy to lose a game, especially when you know it’s your last one.

“I’m exceptionally proud. I can’t believe we went this far. It was a great season, but I hate that it’s over.”

Riverside advances to the fourth round of the state tournament where it will face Lakewood, an undefeated team out of the Carolina Conference.