When the Novi girls volleyball team shows up in a gym near you, better take cover.
Host and KLAA Central Division foe Northville couldn’t heed the Tsunami-like warning Tuesday night as the 2014 MHSAA Class A runner-up Wildcats posted a convincing 25-19, 25-18, 25-17 triumph.
With the victory, No. 1-ranked Novi improved to 26-1 overall and 3-0 in the Central.
“It’s always tough to play here,” Novi coach Jen Cottrill said. “And I think that we learned from previous games that we’re going to get everyone’s best. We’re going to have to expect to always play hard and we were prepared to do that today. ‘Weathering the storm’ is kind of our motto.”
The Wildcats pinned down their neighbors to the south with another precision-like performance with 5-foot-10 seniors Victoria Iacobelli (11 kills, 11 digs, three blocks) and Paulina Iacobelli (10 kills, 18 digs) sparking the seismic wave.
“I think Victoria and Paulina, the twins, have been playing very heavy all year with a lot of pressure,” Cottrill said of the returning all-staters. “I feel like tonight they came back to having fun and just working hard, and battling. With them it was kind of letting go with that pressure, and you could see tonight they played pretty well.”
Also playing another solid match as usual for the Wildcats was 5-10 sophomore setter Erin O’Leary, who recorded 33 assist-to-kills to go along with 17 digs and two ace serves.
“They’re disciplined,” Northville first-year coach Rebecca Quinn said of the Wildcats. “They have control. They have a lot of experience and you can tell. The setter (O’Leary) makes a big difference because she knows who to get the ball to.”
Other contributions for Novi came from junior right side hitter Ally Cummings (nine kills) and junior middle blocker Emmy Robinson (three aces).
Novi’s lone defeat of the season came Sept. 12 at their own Novi Invitational semifinals when they fell to unbeaten Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, ranked No. 1 in Class B.
“This is a different year,” Cottrill said. “Last year we were kind of flying under the radar where this year we have big targets on our back. It’ a lot of mental preparation more than we had to do last year. More physical last year, more mental this year.”
Meanwhile, Northville (16-5, 2-1) had its moments getting 15 kills and eight digs from 5-10 junior Emily Martin, while 5-9 senior Katie O’Malley added 11 kills.
Setters Rachel Holmes, a sophomore, and Hannah Grant, a freshman, combined for 31 assists with 18 and 13, respectively.
Junior Bryce Quick also hit at a .300 clip and provided blocking up front with senior Emily Watkins and sophomore Jessica Hogan.
“I’m really proud of how they played,” Quinn said. “Every single one of my kids got in and worked hard. We learned a lot about our team and it’s motivating for what the rest of the season is going to look like.
“Our energy was up, which was no surprise because we were playing Novi, and it’s going to be up. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with my team as a whole working as a team, and being positive from point one to point 25 in all three games.”
Novi, however, controlled play from start-to-finish and stymied the Mustangs from antenna-to-antenna.
“The biggest thing for us was trying to get them out of systems,” Cottrill said, “so they didn’t have any system swings and get that momentum of putting that ball down on our court … just get them out of system and slow them down at the net, so that we could try to defend them better.”
Northville was coming off a 4-1 showing in last Saturday’s Temperance Bedford tournament. The Mustangs fell to eventual champion Monroe in the semifinals after beating the Trojans in pool play along with Canton, Ida and North Farmington.
The Wildcats, idle last weekend, last played Sept. 17 when they defeated host Livonia Stevenson, 25-6, 25-14, 25-20, in a KLAA Central encounter.
O’Leary recorded eight kills and 22 assists, while other contributions came from Paulina Iacobelli (10 kills, 10 digs) and Claire Pinkerton (13 digs).