High School Sports

Northwest wins battle for top spot

Alaina Shine is the quiet type. She's intelligent and well-spoken, but certainly not prone to emotional outbursts.

Tuesday night, the Northwest senior busted out more emotion than she's shown in her career. She had some "yeahs," a fist pump and even threw her hands in the air and yelled "yes!"

It was an intense night of volleyball for the Grizzlies, who defeated visiting Bishop Carroll 25-20, 26-24, 25-21. Northwest, ranked third in Class 6A, is 20-4 overall.

"The team understands that even though she won't give up much, it will be important when she gives it," Northwest coach Dianne Popp said of Shine's intensity. "It does get the team going."

The sweep was sweet for multiple reasons — it was against a major rival, it kept Northwest undefeated in the City League at 8-0 and dropped Carroll to 7-1 in league play.

"I give credit to Northwest," Carroll coach Rita Mernagh said. "They played well. That's probably the worst I've seen us play. It was bound to happen. It's not a good night to have a bad game."

Northwest's digging was exceptional, as the Grizzlies often extended points with their quick adjustments to Carroll's hits. Jana Reichenberger and Sarah Balderas led Carroll with six kills apiece, but the Grizzlies held the team overall in check.

As for Northwest, Shine had six kills and three stuff blocks, while teammate Stephanie Shartzer had a match-high nine kills and Kelsey Berlin had seven.

Two of Shine's kills were emphatic.

With Northwest leading 24-20 in the first game, Shine got a set to the middle and slammed it to the floor. As it hit, she yelled "Yeah!"

In Game 2, Carroll went on an 8-1 run for a 20-18 lead. Northwest committed four unforced errors in that span and Carroll got a stuff block by Haley Urban and a kill from Bailey Fischer.

Northwest's chance to win Game 2 looked bleak as Carroll took a 24-21 lead on a Reichenberger kill. Popp called timeout.

"I pretty much told them how it was," Popp said. "I was not nice. I had teams that if I yell at them, they totally screw up. That was last year's team. It seems like now, every time I yell at this team, they respond. I basically said, 'You are not playing like you're the third-ranked team in state right now, and I'm sick of it.'

"It worked."

Northwest got a kill from Nikki Daniels, followed by two of Carroll's 13 unforced errors to tie the score at 24-all. After Daniels got a stuff block on Chloe Nicholas, Shine scored the game-winning point with another impressive kill from the middle. That's when she threw her hands in the air.

"It was exciting to know that even though they were close, we were still able to finish, which has been a problem for a couple weeks now," Shine said. "Now we're up two, let's go get them in three."