Northside spikes Southside in straight-set win

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018

PINETOWN — Northside and Southside took their cross-county rivalry to the volleyball court on Monday at the Pinetown-based school in a match that was tightly contested through one and a half sets before the Panthers pulled away for a three-set victory, 26-24, 25-14, 25-7.

Playing in front of a home crowd, Northside (3-5, 2-4 1A Coastal Plains Conference) came out the stronger of the two sides, taking an 8-3 lead. But Southside (6-7, 2-3, 1A CPC) chipped away at the lead, eventually tying the score of the first set at 12-12, prompting a timeout from Panther head coach Michelle Leathers.

The remainder of the first set saw both squads fight tooth and nail to win, as players such as Northside’s Kathleen Slade and Taylor Chase and Southside’s Jacqueline Wood threw their bodies to the floor to reach balls and keep plays going. There were two lead changes and the scored was tied five more times in the opening set before a Slade ace won the first set for Northside, 26-24.

“We gave good effort, came out a little rusty not having practiced on Friday and then playing a game on Monday,” Leathers said. “And then we started getting the rust out; we came back, started swinging and hitting.”

The second set began with both teams playing rather evenly, but the Panthers pulled away after leading 11-9. A 10-5 run, punctuated by a Slade spike, gave Northside a 21-13 lead, before a pair of aces from Mattie Respess helped the Panthers close out the set at 25-14. Perhaps discouraged by how the second half of the set played out, Southside fell apart in the third and final set, falling 25-7.

STRONG START, WEAK FINISH: Southside head coach Atyana Starkie (center) talks with her players during a timeout in yesterday’s game against Northside. The Seahawks started strong but faded in the three-set loss to the Panthers. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

“It’s so frustrating because we can start, but we don’t finish,” Southside head coach Atyana Starkie said. “I said (to my players), ‘we can come out and we play, but we have to finish it.’ That first set we played really, really well. We made a couple of mistakes that we knew what we were doing. So going into that second set, we were like, ‘ok we’re going to fix it.’ However, we just beat up on ourselves once again.”

Leathers mentioned Logan Jefferson’s ability to win points at the net, as well as the hustle displayed by Slade, Chase and Jessica Foster as keys to the victory. But Leathers was quick to point out her whole team exhibits the same hard-working mentality and she just gives some extra encouragement.

“I don’t care if we’re winning or losing, they’re going to hustle,” Leathers said. “It’s something that’s instilled in them as players. And I just try to put a little double potion to it, that’s all.”