Northside rebounds with three-game sweep of Washington

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS HEAVY HITTERS: Outside hitter Savannah Slade and setter Kendall Alligood exchange a high five following a point in the second game.

HEAVY HITTERS: Outside hitter Savannah Slade and setter Kendall Alligood exchange a high-five following a point in the second game.

PINETOWN — The Northside volleyball team may be without the services of reigning Daily News Female Athlete of the Year Alex Adams for the first time in four years, but that hasn’t bothered the Panthers so far.

On Monday, Northside dropped the season-opening match, 3-1, to heavily favored Riverside, the team that knocked the Panthers off in the third round of playoffs last October. But the 25-19 win in the opening game proved this team could at the very least put up a fight against top competition.

Northside was able to bounce back on Tuesday with a three-game sweep of Washington, as the setter-hitter combination of Kendall Alligood and Rachel Lang proved too much for the visiting defense.

“It was a much better story than (Monday) night,” said Northside head coach Kayla Maddox. “I think a lot of that is that it’s out home court and Washington isn’t the team that beat us in the playoffs last year. We had a lot more going for us this time.”

Coming off a sweep of Southside at home on Monday, Washington head coach Kelly Slade applauded the host’s dominating performance after the match. On the Pam Pack’s end, there were no excuses.

“Northside has a really good team and played really well together, really communicated as one. We got beat by a better team today,” Slade said.

“We had a lot of trouble moving our feet and getting in the right positions. They didn’t come out here with the same intensity as they did on Monday.”

Operating off consistently well-placed sets from Alligood, Lang racked up four blocks and a match-high 18 kills, more than the entire Washington team. Varsity newcomer Anna Gibbs also had a solid performance, notching six kills and four blocks, while Savannah Slade and Sarah Rhem also provided timely offense.

In the first game, Northside mirrored Monday night’s performance, jumping out to a six-point lead after an ace from Rhem and kill by Slade. Washington managed to pull to within three points later on, but mishits and strong serving from the Panthers quickly widened the gap to 20-13. An ace from Meredith Boyd and a kill from Gibbs closed out the first game, 25-17.

Washington regrouped and came out in the second game energized, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead. However, Lang and Gibbs responded and began to chip away. Eventually, Northside evened the score at seven, as the teams went on to exchange leads two more times. In the end, unforced errors and netted serves sunk Washington, which dropped the second game, 25-21.

In the third and final game, Northside coasted to a 25-14 victory, 11 kills supplied by the right hand of Lang. With Washington leading 14-11, Northside rallied for six-straight points and never looked back, sealing the match with back-to-back kills from Lang.

“What I’ve seen from Rachel consistently is that she is aggressive and I want my other hitters to be that way,” Maddox said. “Every time that ball is on the net, her thought is I’m going to score a point. I like that aggressive attacking mentality from her. I think it’s just a comfortableness from her and Kendall playing together, just a great dynamic. They work well, get along together and they trust each other.”

For Washington, Meghan Moore led the way with seven kills, while Charity Gardner followed with four kills.

“I think we feel very good coming off of this,” Maddox said. “We’ll be fine and this is more of what we’ll see. We definitely have some stuff to work on in practice, but I think a lot of it is going to be continuing to come together as a team, not so much the fundamentals.”

With the win, Northside improves to 1-1 and will face Riverside in Pinetown on Monday. The loss drops Washington to 1-1, as the Pam Pack will travel to Williamston on Thursday to also take on Riverside.