Lady Panthers come into their own, sweep Jones Senior

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

PINETOWN — Northside volleyball is building momentum. A 3-1 win at Bear Grass on Thursday gave the Lady Panthers their first 1-A Coastal Plains victory of the season. They followed it up by dominating Jones Senior en route to a 3-0 sweep.

The visiting Lady Trojans mustered 16 points in a first-set loss. It was the most they’d manage against an ever-improving Northside squad. The Lady Panthers continued to get better with each set, too.

The win was a result of a complete-team effort. It started with excellent serving — occasionally ending there, too — and finished with hard hitting up front.

“It was our serving and getting some good passes to setters,” coach Michelle Leathers said. “We were playing as a team. You don’t have a choice in volleyball. … We’ve been focusing on our serve-return. We’ve been working on getting a good pass, getting it to the setter and getting it to our strong hitters.”

A serving ace from Brooklyn Hudnell gave Northside a 12-5 lead in the second set. The Lady Trojans seemed to be picking up some steam until Northside got the serve back and Savannah Slade added an ace of her own to push the lead to 15-7.

Slade was a highlight for the Lady Panthers. She was dangerous every time she got a serve. Her work hitting up front was just as threatening, too.

“She’s really been working on her jump serves,” Leathers said of Slade. “That’s been helping us out. We do line hits and stuff like that, so she’s been working on hitting. She’s been getting strong and getting in the weight room. She’s been in there with coach (Keith) Boyd getting stronger.”

Savannah Slade readies herself to serve against Jones Senior. Her serving and hitting were a highlight of the Lady Panthers’ 3-0 sweep on Tuesday.

Jones Senior called a timeout, trailing 20-8. The Lady Trojans notched a point and got the serve back, but couldn’t find much more. Abby Mooring made a diving save to break a serve late in the set, which her side won 25-12.

Another ace from Slade punctuated a 4-0 run to start the third set. Jones Senior used an ace of its own to help cut its early deficit to 4-3, but the Lady Panthers quickly pulled away again.

Back to back kills by Rachel Lang followed by a kill from Meredith Boyd and an ace from Slade helped lead Northside to a commanding 19-9 lead. The Lady Panthers ended up winning the match with another 25-12 set win.

“Rachel Lang, I love when she’s getting that ball. We’ve got Rachel, we’ve got Savannah, Brooklyn,” Leathers said of her go-to hitters. “We have Madison Tetterton and now I’m ready to put Emori Smith in. I’m still taking some time with it. If we can get it to the right people, we can make some things happen.”