Washington falls to North Johnston, 3-0

Published 8:30 pm Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS HEAVY HITTING: Junior Meghan Moore elevates for a kill in the second game of Wednesday’s loss to North Johnston. She finished with three kills.

HEAVY HITTING: Junior Meghan Moore elevates for a kill in the second game of Wednesday’s loss to North Johnston. She finished with three kills.

With just two seniors, the Washington volleyball team has spent the season building chemistry, shuffling rotations and learning how to win. On Wednesday, in a match originally slated for Tuesday (poor court conditions), the Pam Pack dropped its fourth conference match of the season, 3-0, against one of the top senior-laden teams in the conference, but head coach Kelly Slade was hardly disappointed following the defeat.

“Coming in against a strong North Johnston team and playing the way we did those first two games really boosts our confidence,” she said. “Even though it’s a loss, we learned a lot and I think we’ll build on that and keep improving.”

Coming off a lethargic match against North Pitt last week, one where the Pam Pack won a total of 18 points through three games, Wednesday’s performance against North Johnston was a breath of fresh air for a team looking to respond with energy and enthusiasm.

North Johnston, currently seated third in the Eastern Plains Conference with an overall record of 11-5, leaned on setter Kelly White and a strong lineup of senior hitters in Morgan Foster, Jada Santiago and Olivia Narron for production. But even with far superior power hitters and few unforced errors down the stretch, the Panthers found themselves battling the Pam Pack early.

After a few lead changes, North Johnston held on to a shaky two-point lead for most of the first game. White fed the front of the net with well-placed sets, but the Pam Pack hitters, including freshman Summer Campbell and junior Meghan Moore, came through with clutch blocks, supplemented by acrobatic defense from the back line. In the final points, however, kills from Santiago and Foster opened up a four-point lead that would stick, resulting in a 25-21 loss.

Mirroring the first 46 points, Washington continued to fight for its survival in Game 2. With support from setters Briley Waters and Sarah Lynch, Moore and Campbell continued to pound the Panthers’ defense up front. But North Johnston held its ground, erasing yet another deficit and opening up a significant lead, taking the second game, 25-19.

“I was really excited about the first two games,” Slade said. “I think the girls went out there, worked well together, talked and hustled. They just improved tenfold from last match as far as their effort and attitudes. They just did a really great job and it was a total team effort.”

In the final game, aside from a well-timed smash from Moore, North Johnston totally controlled the tempo, as Narron worked alongside the reserves and closed out the game, 25-11.

For Washington, Moore finished with four kills, while Campbell notched three kills. Slade spoke highly of her freshman hitter after the match.

“Summer Campbell came up as a freshman and every single game her confidence is building,” she said. “She’s really improving on her passing, her hitting, being aggressive at the net and she was leading in kills early. She’s quiet and lets her volleyball speak for itself. She goes out there and does work, so I’m really proud of her. She’s a team player with a great attitude, everything I look for in a player.”

For North Johnston, White finished with 12 assists, while Foster finished with 11 kills.

With the loss, Washington drops to 4-10 (1-4 EPC) and will host Southwest Edgecombe on Thursday.