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North Volleyball Report - October 2
J. C. Tilton

Apologies for the lateness in getting this out, but this story missed last weeks deadline. So this summarizes North volleyball from the week before last.

First match for North was against Oakwood. Coach Aukerman reported that the team was intimidated. “I think my team was kinda in awe of [Katie Fritz] during that first game, as she pounded the ball hard to the floor, sometimes hitting over our block. My players had that look in their face that said, How are we supposed to stop her?” The team did rebound from that first set. “I think once my kids settled down, and understood their mission, they played really good volleyball, even blocked her a couple of times, which was awesome for us.” Still North could not overcome and would eventually fall to defeat. Coach Aukerman complimented the Oakwood team, “Coach Conner has done an excellent job with Oakwood's program, they were a doormat 5 years ago before she got there. Oakwood does a great job of defensively movement, best I've seen this year, and they communicate with each other very well. On top of that, they were the best serving team we've seen this year.” Scores: 25-15, 25-15, 23-25, and 25-17

Now the team had to bounce back against Newton. A team that North has had some success against the past. But North would falter in the first set. Coach Aukerman would comment, “The first game didn't go to plan, we looked flat and tired.” To try to shake up the team the coach even benched the two captains for a period of time. He was worried that he has shaken up their confidence too much - and quickly moved to restore it. But now it was up to the team to respond. First to step up were Kirsten Neal and Lauren Perry who started to hit the ball well, Coach Aukerman also acknowledged setter Amber Eisen - who gave the team critical sets. The team would lose the first set - but bounce back and win the next three for the win: 20-25, 25-23, 25-16, and 25-15.

The last match was a marathon against next door foe, National Trail. North started out strong with good passing and hitting, while Trail seemed out of sync. North was able to win the first set, but in the second set Trail began to adjust and seemed to get better with every serve. North won, but just barely 25-23. In the third set, Trail turned up the heat. Coach Aukerman would later acknowledge that his team may have gotten over confident in the third set. A taller National team was beginning to assert itself and was able to win the next two matches to draw even. Now it was down to the last and deciding match. North found themselves on the short end of a 7-3 score when coach Aukerman took a time out. Lauren Perry responded after the time out with some sizzling serves that pulled North even with Trail. The teams battled back and forth with North finally being the victor.

Aukerman reflected back on the last critical game, “Mental toughness played a big part of the game, as both sides struggled with it at times. I kept stressing to my team that they couldn't play passive, and they had to take risks if they were going to win. At the same time, I told them that the team with least amount of mistakes was going to win. Tough message to give them, but it's the truth, you have to perform well under-pressure, stepping up making big plays a crucial times. We managed to squeak it out, and I give credit to my players for not giving up when things looked bad. Kirsten Neal again had a good hitting performance for us, getting kills for us when we desperately needed them. The outcome could have gone either way, and it was a great game played by both sides”.

Stats for North:
Oakwood: Perry 1 ace, 6 digs, 7 assists, 5 kills; Eisen had 1 ace, 4 digs, 6 assists, 2 blocks; Estep had 4 digs, 5 kills, 1 block; Tucker had 5 aces, 3 digs; Neal had 6 kills, 2 blocks; Hobbs had 2 aces, 2 kills; Schaar had 1 ace, 2 digs, 2 assists, 1 kill, 2 blocks; Creech had 2 aces; Whitaker had 9 digs.

Newton:Perry 2 aces, 7 digs, 18 assists, 8 kills; Eisen had 1 ace, 4 digs, 13 assists, 2 kills; Estep had 10 digs, 4 kills, 1 block; Tucker had 3 aces, 4 digs, 1 kill; Neal had 13 kills, 3 blocks; Hobbs had 1 ace, 1 dig, 4 kills; Schaar had 2 aces, 4 digs, 5 kills, 1 block; Creech had 1 ace; Whitaker had 15 digs

Trail: Perry 7 aces, 9 digs, 22 assists, 7 kills; Eisen 7 digs, 20 assists, 6 kills; Estep had 11 digs, 5 kills; Tucker had 3 aces, 1 dig, 4 kills; Neal had 14 kills; Hobbs had 1 dig, 7 kills; Schaar had 1 ace, 5 digs, 6 kills; Creech had 1 ace; Whitaker had 19 digs.


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