North Duplin holds off North Johnston
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 12, 2007 1:48 PM
CALYPSO -- Finish what you started.
That will be one of several lessons North Duplin will undoubtedly learn from its five-game 25-21, 25-19, 12-25, 20-25, 15-9 victory over Class 1-A Carolina Conference foe North Johnston on Tuesday.
The Rebels (3-2 overall, 1-0 Carolina) appeared to be in complete control, but watched the Panthers storm back and push the match to five games. Early-match miscues which favored North Duplin nearly became its enemy down the stretch.
"I don't know honestly what changed," North Duplin coach Heather Best said. "A lot of times with volleyball its a momentum thing. If somebody gets on a wave they can ride it. We're a young team, we only have one senior and I don't know if a lack of maturity in playing wasn't a factor.
"We fought hard and we came back and I'm proud of them. We need to work on protecting a lead, and concentrate on three games instead of two and a half."
Having gone from the driver's seat to hanging on for dear life, North Duplin regained its composure at the outset of game five. The Rebels rattled off six consecutive points behind the serving of Heather Hudson, and also won 10 points off Panthers' mistakes to take the decisive game 15-9.
"I told my girls the (number of game's won) was zero to zero and whoever won one was going to win the match," Best said. "They knew what they needed to do."
North Duplin watched multiple eight-point leads diminish to a 24-20 margin in game one as North Johnston's Brittany Keene pounded out pivotal kills to help her team stay within striking distance. However, costly mistakes, spacing breakdowns and the inability to execute fundamentals plagued the Panthers toward the end.
Six North Duplin aces helped erase a 12-7 North Johnston lead and 15 Panthers miscues also helped the Rebels in game two.
After looking timid, unorganized and confused in the first two games, North Johnston became the aggressor in game three. Suddenly, it was North Duplin that found itself out of place at all the wrong times, while feeling the affects of mis-hit balls and the inability to execute basic fundamentals.
The Panthers raced out to a 12-5 lead and used 10 kills to pick up a 25-12 win. The trend continued in game four, except this time North Duplin watched a 13-5 lead evaporate and was unable to recover. The Rebels held a late 20-13 advantage, but three aces down the stretch from Sam Holland helped the Panthers rally for a 25-20 win.
Hudson finished with seven kills, three digs, two blocks and an ace, while counterpart Sam Cates notched seven assists, six kills and five aces and two digs. Felicia Lynch added four assists, one kill and an ace, Angelica Favela tallied three assists and two digs and Katlyn Eloshway had two kills an ace and a dig.
Hudson and Cates were the glue that held North Duplin together when the momentum shifted in a matter of moments, as the pair always seemed to provide an ace or a kill at critical junctures of the match.
"I rely on (Hudson and Cates) tremendously, but I have to rely on all six of my players and even the players on the bench," Best said. "You can't win with two players, you can't win with one. You have to win all six."
With a talented and athletic but young squad, Best's focus isn't on a key matchup two or three weeks from now, or the lure of the postseason. Rather, the Rebels' skipper is simply concentrating on her team's next outing, which comes Thursday when they host conference foe Princeton.
"One game at a time," Best said. "We're so young and it's going to take a lot to get us there but I can mold them. They are very eager to learn. It's just one game at a time.
"I'm not looking at next week and I'm not looking at the playoffs. We are building and that's all I'm concentrating now is working on team development."
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