Panthers settle for second place on Dig Pink Night

Published 1:08 pm Friday, October 13, 2023

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Senior Emaleigh Cherry returns the ball against Pamlico County. (Steve Barnes/Washington Daily News)

The Northside volleyball team ended its regular season on an emotional note Thursday night at home.

Eight players were recognized for their contribution to the program on Senior Night while players, coaches, teachers, alumni and students walked around the court in a pre-game show of support of cancer survivors and victims on Dig Pink Night. There was also a key Coastal Plains 1A/2A Conference match to play against rival Pamlico County with first place and the top seed in next week’s league tournament on the line in front of a packed house that included a loud and rowdy Panther student section.

Perhaps the hoopla got to the home team at the beginning as the Hurricanes (10-0, 18-3) blew out to a 14-3 advantage on the way to a 25-8 first set victory. Northside (8-2, 12-7) played a close second set, but fell 25-22, then led 6-4 and 15-13, before the Canes scored 12 straight points to wrap up the match 25-15 and claim the regular season title.

“We had the jitters in the first set and it took a while to settle down,” Northside coach Michelle Leathers said. “We relaxed after that and I made a few adjustments, but they are a good team with a lot of offensive weapons.”

The team have developed a volleyball rivalry over the years, with the Panthers winning the conference title two years ago and battling into the tournament final before falling last year and Leathers expects a repeat final this year.

“Our only conference losses are to them and we should see them again in the final match next week,” she said. “I told our team after the match that need to focus forward. Everyone has a clean slate and a loss means your season is over.”

Both teams get byes into the tournament semifinals and should host second round games Thursday.

Leathers also noted the importance of Dig Pink Night.

“Just about everyone on the court or in the stands knows somebody who’s had cancer,” she said. “We’ve held our fundraiser for cancer research every year since I’ve been coaching and hopefully someday, we will find a cure.”