Friday, September 22, 2006
Steamboat Springs As an under-sized 1A school playing against larger 2A opponents, North Park volleyball coach Randy Hodgson feels fortunate to have size and experience on his sideline. Having lost only one starter from last season, the tall and talented Wildcats (9-1 overall, 4-0 in league) showed some veteran swagger in their Thursday match at Soroco, winning in three games, 25-19, 25-4, 25-13.
The Rams came out bounding with energy in the first game. Despite giving up the lead, they hung closely with North Park and played tough as Emily Strait notched two blocks. After a kill by Kelsey Samuelson, the Rams started a four-point rally behind Emily Hallenbeck's serve to take the game to 22-17, before North Park pulled away to a 25-19 win.
"That's the best first game we've ever played," Soroco senior Jennifer Block said. "Usually, our first games seem like warm-up games, but we came out stronger than usual."
The Rams' energy fizzled in the second game, and their miscues piled up as North Park jumped to an early 17-3 lead they could not recover from.
"We started off slow," said Wildcats junior Kelsey Souza, who helped turn North Park's game on at the net. "The second game was fun. They left their corners open."
In Game 3, coach Hodgson said he was pleased to see his players getting their key passes down to setter Josie Goulette, who assisted Cassie Corkle on two kills to keep North Park ahead. Although Soroco had a couple of momentum-shifting point sets with back-to back kills from Toni Lombardi and Strait and another late pair of points from Amanda Wilson, the Rams couldn't string their plays together for an effective comeback, losing the game, 25-13.
"We were playing well together," Lombardi said. "We didn't fall apart. We just faltered, and our enthusiasm and readiness went up and down, losing our focus, then gaining it back."
Lombardi hopes her team can come out with the same initial intensity for its next match, which starts at 4 p.m. today at West Grand.