Northside knocked out by defending regional champion Louisburg

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

LOUISBURG — Northside put together a memorable volleyball season. The Lady Panthers swept Washington. They swept rival Southside. They finished third in the 1-A Coastal Plains Conference behind stellar teams from Riverside and Pamlico County.

They earned their spot in the playoffs and went on the road to upset Princeton in the first round on Saturday. But the season came to an end Tuesday when Northside ran into No. 3 Louisburg in the second round. The Lady Warriors earned their 25th win of the season in a 3-0 sweep.

“I’m proud of them,” Northside coach Michelle Leathers said. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to get this far, so I’m proud of where we’re at. This is basically where we were last year. For a basketball coach, I think we did alright.”

Louisburg played for the 1-A state championship last year. The Lady Warriors, led by senior Meredith commit Whitney Bolton, are hungry to get back to the title game. They proved too much to handle from the onset.

“A lot of these girls I have on here are returning players. They may have been starters or at least on the team,” Lady Warriors coach Erica Wammock said. “They’re hungry. They want a shot at it again. I think that was a motivation this season.”

The Lady Warriors jumped out to large leads in each of the first two sets. Bolton’s 6-foot frame proved useful in blocking Northside’s hits, and she used her power to pound the ball onto the court for a kill in a 7-0 surge to begin the match.

It was a quick wakeup call for the Lady Panthers. They’ve seen impressive competition from Riverside and Pamlico County. They hadn’t seen anything like what Louisburg brought.

“Pamlico can hit, too. They have a girl that’s just as good as (Bolton) is,” Leathers said. “We just weren’t prepared to serve and receive today. We didn’t receive well tonight.”

Emori Smith put the Lady Panthers on the board, halting the opening flurry. She then kickstarted a response that featured kills from Brooklyn Hudnell and Kathleen Slade. Northside still found itself down by 11 even with the bit of momentum.

After cruising to a 25-7 win in the first set, the Lady Warriors notched the first 10 points of the second. Libero Madison Sadler did well serving during the scoring streak.

Northside’s first two points in the second set came via Louisburg errors. The Lady Panthers normally had Smith, Savannah Slade and Grace Armstrong that could work above the net. Their hitters had to opt for more tips, though, due to Louisburg’s height.

The hosts closed out the second set, 25-8. Northside got the first point in the third set — its only lead of the match — but quickly fell behind. Aggression hitting the ball cost the Lady Warriors as Northside cut an early deficit to 8-4.

Louisburg took control shortly after. It took advantage of fatigue and communication problems from the visitors, eventually closing out the match with a 25-11 win in the third.

Northside loses six senior from this team, but should return four juniors and strong underclassmen in Kathleen Slade and Grace Armstrong.