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|11/2/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Motivated Rebel netters take down Panthers in three|
By Ross Eberhart
The Northeast volleyball team already had plenty to play for during its first round regional match with Monticello, Monday night.
A win over the Panthers would mean retribution for a regular season heartbreaker, an appropriate show of appreciation for a spirited home crowd, and, most importantly, the continuation of the season itself.
Early in game three, the Rebels gained yet another piece of motivation.
Unfortunately, it came in painful fashion.
With Northeast holding a one-point lead, junior Alicia Perez dove to the ground to dig a Monticello kill attempt. The effort ended up injuring Perez' shoulder and the gym fell silent as the junior remained on the floor in pain.
The injury shook the Rebels, but it also steeled their resolve, which became very apparent as the two teams found themselves in a tight struggle later in the set.
Northeast found itself down 24-21 in the game and one point away from losing the hard-earned momentum it gained in the first two sets.
The Rebels, though, dug deep. Addie Oberman helped Northeast fend off the first game-point with a kill and Kelsey Carder pulled the team back within one with an ace.
Carder's next serve also was poorly received by Monticello and suddenly the game was tied at 24-24.
The Panthers broke the tie with a point to get back on the cusp of a victory, but Northeast answered to knot things up again.
The same exact sequence repeated itself moments later with Monticello again breaking the tie only to see the Rebels even things up (this time on a Breanne Butler kill).
This time, Northeast was the team to pull in front as Monticello missed on an attack attempt. Baylie Parson followed with a serve that the Panthers had trouble handling. Monticello's pass ended up right over the net where it was smacked down by Ashley Kruse to finish off a 25-17, 25-10, 28-26 Rebel victory.
"The girls did a great job of taking Monticello out of their system by serving consistently and picking out targets to serve to," Northeast head coach Brenda McKone said. "Our hitters and setters got some terrific combinations working and our defense, both blocking and digging, really was a strength.
"The girls also understood that it was win or be done. They certainly weren't ready to be done, especially on our home floor in front of a very vocal and supportive Rebel Nation."
The Rebels controlled the first two games behind an incredibly efficient attack and a defense that did not give the Panthers a lot of opportunities.
Northeast finished the contest with 31 kills - its most in eight matches - and committed just six attack errors for a kill efficiency of .410 (the Rebels' average efficiency this season is .143).
While the offense racked up the points, the Rebel defense was doing its part to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
Northeast piled up 39 digs in the match - led by Parson who came up with 20 herself - and even though they had just four blocks (all of them by Butler), the Rebels were able to slow down a number of Monticello attacks at the net.
The result was a pair of comfortable victories as Northeast won by eight points in game one and 15 in game two.
Of course, the Rebels took the first two games from Monticello in their regular season match as well before the Panthers roared back to take the final three in a five-set win.
A strong defensive effort by a resolute group of Rebels, though, made sure there would be no repeat on Monday.
Oberman paced the Northeast attack with 14 kills, while Kruse and Butler added six apiece and Peyton Gray two.
Carder assisted on a team-best 10 of the Rebels' kills, while also leading the squad with three aces.
Courtney Stoll added eight assists, while Oberman had six digs and Butler three. Parson added a pair of aces to her high dig total with Oberman joining her with two aces of her own.
The victory marked the third-straight season in which the Rebels have opened the postseason with a win (after going eight-straight years without one).
Unfortunately, Northeast's postseason run ended three days later at the hands of 15th-ranked Center Point-Urbana.
At times, the Rebels gave the Stormin' Pointers fits, especially in set two, but it was not enough as Center Point-Urbana brought home a 25-15, 25-21, 25-18 victory.
More information on the match will be included in Wednesday's Observer.
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