FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
It was clear from the beginning of Thursday’s Tri-Eastern Conference volleyball match: Hagerstown and Northeastern were pretty evenly matched.
The biggest lead in the first game was a four-point advantage — once, by Hagerstown.
Not that those runs seemed to matter much. Northeastern had some too.
But in the end, somehow, Hagerstown came together and pulled out the 3-0 sweep.
“Anytime you play in this area, if you get a sweep, you’re playing good,” Hagerstown coach Brian Dale said. “I didn’t think we played our best tonight. We’ve got a lot of girls that are sick, flu symptoms, sinus symptoms, so considering that, I thought we did OK.”
The Tigers suffered from miscommunication at times, and a pesky Northeastern team wouldn’t go away, but Hagerstown improved to 16-6 and 3-1 in the TEC with a 25-23, 25-21, 27-25 win over the Knights.
Northeastern led most of the first game, taking three-point leads three times, before Hagerstown used a 6-1 run to take its first lead, 15-14, on a kill by Ashley Dale.
The Tigers led from there, the biggest lead 21-17, but Northeastern tied the game at 21- and 23-all.
Hagerstown responded, however, finally winning on another kill by Dale.
The most one-sided game was the second, tied just once at 4-all.
Hagerstown led the rest of the way and their biggest lead was eight points.
A Tawni Brown tip gave the Tigers game point at 24-18, but Northeastern’s Emily Loden had a kill and a block, with a Kendall Field ace in between to make it 24-21, before the Tigers won the game.
“We get down and we have our moments, but we are able to get back up and get the energy back up and I think that shows a lot,” Brown said. “It takes a good team to win a game when you’re up, but it takes a great team to win a game when you’re down.”
Hagerstown rolled to an early 5-0 lead in the third game, but Northeastern took advantage of three straight side-outs and won six of the next eight points to get within 8-7.
The Tigers regained that five-point lead at 14-9, but the Knights eventually pulled even at 15-15, before taking another three-point lead at 19-16.
The Knights eventually had set point twice at 24-22 and at 25-24.
However, Brown managed a block to tie it at 25, added a kill to make it 26-25, and the Tigers found a way to drop a ball in for the sweep.
“We’re really good about coming back from being so far behind,” said Hagerstown’s Kendell Combs, who had a team-high 11 kills, plus 11 assists and two aces. “We’ve seen this team before (at the Monroe Central Invitational) and we kind of creamed them the first time, so we weren’t expecting this. But after we saw that they were going to give us a fight, we decided that we need to work together as a team better.”
Brown and Savannah Houck each had six kills for the Tigers, while Hannah Rogers added 10 assists. Anna Oakes had 25 digs, while Brytni Dale had 13 to go with a pair of aces.
For the Knights, Loden finished with eight blocks and five kills, while Kaitlyn Shafer led the team with seven kills and Heaven Stegall added six, along with a pair of blocks.
Field had 21 assists, while Michaela Barker had 26 digs and four aces.
The Knights fall to 1-4 in the TEC, 9-14 overall but have played close matches, and head coach Jerry Middleton says the team could factor in the sectional.
“Every match comes down to one or two plays. We’ve talked about it before, and if you don’t make those one or two plays, and the other team does, they’re going to win,” Middleton said. ” … We’ve been in a bunch of those (losses), but the scary part of that is that the teams that we are playing in the sectional, we’re right on that hump, we’re one or two plays. So they make one or two mistakes, we make one or two plays, things could be different. We could be a spoiler.”
The Tigers host the Wayne County tournament Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
Northeastern takes on Lincoln, followed by Hagerstown opposite Centerville.