Northside falls short against Pamlico County

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

PINETOWN — Northside wants to show it can hang with the best of the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference. It put its six-game win streak on the line Thursday when it hosted Pamlico County.

The Lady Panthers took the Lady Hurricanes to the limit in a 3-2 loss. After sophomore phenom Annie Anderson gave Pamlico County a 22-21 lead and the chance to close out the match in the fourth, Grace Armstrong came up with a kill that helped Northside force a deciding fifth set.

The visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker. A hitting error sandwiched between a pair of Savannah Slade aces let the Lady Panthers take a 4-3 lead. Every time they’d build some momentum, though, Anderson pounded the ball onto the court. The six-footer and her Lady Canes comrades proved just a bit too much to overcome.

“It means a lot to take them to the wire,” Northside coach Michelle Leathers said. “They came out, played hard, and we never questioned ourselves. I’m glad it went down to the end. That’s what you play for.”

Pamlico County coach John Ashley added, “Northside took a game against Riverside and we lost 3-2 to Riverside. I knew it was going to be tough. I know these three (Pamlico County, Riverside and Northside) are the toughest in the conference. I wouldn’t be surprised if all three of the teams end up in the playoffs.”

The two sides were evenly matched for the first half of the opening set. Pamlico County ended up running away midway through as Zion Davis’ kill set up the Lady Canes to close the set out on a hitting error. Davis ended up sidelined with a knee injury.

“We had to overcome an injury to one of our outside hitters,” Ashley said of the message to the Lady Canes before the fifth set. “We all had to step up and play tough defense. Northside is a really good defensive team. They really are phenomenal.”

Pamlico County led most of the first half of the second set, but couldn’t pull away from the hosting Lady Panthers. They got the ball back with the set knotted at 19 apiece. Kathleen Slade’s serving led a 7-0 run as Northside rallied to win it, 25-19. Senior Savannah Slade had two kills as her freshman sister had a pair of aces during the surge.

“Everybody wants to win and everybody wants to be in first place,” Leathers said of the way the Lady Panthers stormed back. “I knew they weren’t going to back down and I knew we weren’t going to back down.”

The Lady Canes pulled away early in the third set for a decisive 25-15 win to take a 2-1 lead. Northside had trouble keeping the serve.

Pamlico County was poised to close it out in four sets. Lindsey Potter had an ace and Hydia Davis drilled one onto the hardwood to give the Lady Canes a quick 5-0 advantage. A serving ace by Brooklyn Hudnell gave Northside its first lead, 16-15.

The Lady Canes kept it close. A serving error gave the ball back to Northside, and an ace from Emori Smith made it 21-18. Anderson’s hard hitting took the lead back, but wasn’t enough to keep the home side from forcing a fifth set.

Northside returns to action Tuesday when it hosts another of the conference’s best in Riverside.