Too many times, Northwest volleyball coach Dianne Popp has watched her team start poorly — it's not easy on the heart. Yet she's also seen her team shake it off, respond and come back and win matches.
Tuesday night at Bishop Carroll was no different, as the Grizzlies found themselves in a hole before recovering to defeat Carroll 19-25, 25-22, 25-20. Northwest finished the second half of the City League season 8-0.
"We've come from behind in a couple games, and I've told the girls, you can do it," Popp said. "Now if we could just start out well, we'd be OK."
Coupled with the Grizzlies' 25-10, 25-10 win over Southeast, they secured a tie with Heights for second in the City League.
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"I told the girls that this is for you solidifying yourself for second," Popp said. "You don't want to be third, you don't want to be tied for third. And it's a confidence builder, a momentum builder going into sub-state this weekend."
Carroll's 25-10, 25-6 victory over Southeast gave the Eagles sole possession of the City League title with a 14-2 record.
"It's not the way we wanted to end the season with sub-states on Saturday," said Carroll coach Rita Mernagh. Carroll will host a Class 5A sub-state. "Passing, serving, it was a little of everything. Not finishing out the matches.That's our biggest problem now.
"We started (the season) off like fire at the beginning. We'll have to find out what we're struggling with because we don't have much time anymore."
Carroll opened its match against Northwest playing well, taking leads of 15-5 and 22-10 in the opener. The Eagles were blocking, getting kills, playing tough defense.
Suddenly it got shaky for Carrroll. The Eagles had two serve-receive errors and Northwest finished the match with kills from Alaina Shine and Kenzi Lewis, but lost 25-19.
"Even though we didn't win it, it wasa good confidence boost for the girls," Popp said. "We played that bad and we got that close. I told them, 'look at how we started, look at how we made the comeback. Let's eliminate our serve-receive errors and hit the ball, and we'll be in the game.' "
Carroll jumped out big in the second game, too, up 6-1 and 13-4. But Northwest responded with better passes and got kills from Kimie Johnston, Shine, Stephanie Shartzer and stuff blocks from Shine and Shartzer as the Grizzlies tied the score 14-all.
Trailing 20-16 after a stuff block by Carroll senior Nicole Walden, Northwest came back again, scoring nine of the final 11 points for the win. Carroll had four unforced errors on the final five points.
"It all starts with the pass," said Shine, who, along with Johnston, had nine kills in the match. "We get good sets, we have good hits. We just have to play defense, play to our strengths."
The third game was tight and the teams traded runs and leads throughout. That is, until Northwest took a 19-17 lead on a kill by Lewis.
Shine ended the match with a kill from the middle.
"By then, it was all momentum," Popp said. "Everything was clicking and the confidence was there."