WINSTED >> Northwestern (3-1; 3-0 Berkshire League) and Terryville (2-5; 1-2 BL) showed great talent when they can keep it under control, in five games at Northwestern High School Tuesday evening.
“A lot of it was a battle of unforced errors,” said Northwestern coach Jon Hurlock.
Hurlock’s Highlanders stuck it out through a see-saw four-game battle, 24-26; 25-16; 11-25; 2
5-22, then put away the final game, 15-9, when it counted the most, for the 3-2 win.
“In most of our losses, we totally beat ourselves,” said Damian Coggshall, in his first year as head coach of the defending Berkshire League champions. “We make so many forced errors – usually in a row – and it kills our momentum.”
Great kills, digs and athleticism were on display throughout the match.
Controlling the unforced errors cemented Northwestern’s win.
“We fought when we wanted to,” said Hurlock. “When we played more aggressively was when we came back.
“I called a time out in Game 3 (when the Highlanders were down 10-24). I told them this would set the precedent for the whole match,” said Hurlock.
Liz Newkirk (9 kills, 5 aces), out of the huddle, clocked a huge kill for the next point.
The Kangaroos took that game, 25-11, but Northwestern had their sights on the next two.
“We start slow and build up momentum,” said Newkirk.
The match carried momentum in waves.
The Highlanders built a 5-1 lead in Game One on another huge Newkirk kill. Errors ruled the game for the next three points, then Terryville went to work.
Bailey Doran (5 kils, 10 digs, 3 aces) and Libby Rrahimi (9 kills, 3 aces) found empty spots. Then Doran ripped a pair of aces for a 9-7 lead.
By the time Northwestern’s Vicky Uribe hit a spot for a 24-24 Game One tie, the battle of equals was all in the nerves.
This time, the Lady Roos held firm.
Rrahimi found another empty spot for the lead. A Northwestern player played a ball out of bounds for the win, 26-24.
“We just need to keep our intensity up,” said Northwestern senior Taylor Fetzer (8 kills, 6 aces, 7 digs).
Mired in another deadlocked series in Game Two, the Highlanders, starting from a 9-11 deficit, went on a 16-5 tear showomg what “Northwestern intensity” can mean.
Finding her stride, Fetzer powered a kill through the top of the net, tipped another point, then served an ace.
Highlander freshman Molly Clarke and senior Newkirk had kills; Fetzer served another ace.
At 17-12, Northwestern, the “intensity” point was made.
Newkirk finished the game with two huge jump-serve aces in a row, 25-16.
Game three was the opposite. Ahead 11-7, the Kangaroos stood firm through 12 unforced Highlander errors, including one that ended a volley including two huge blocks by Terryville’s Mackenzie Witham.
Rhahimi served a pair of aces. Highlander coach Hurlock had his time out.
Northwestern was re-set to go.
It was never easy. With a 14-12 lead in Game Four, Northwestern setter Gina Follino (27 assists, 2 kills, 3 aces) stood in for five points on the service line, 19-12. Then errors swept again: five points for Terryville.
The Kangaroos were back to a 21-16 deficit. A Rrahimi kill got another point; more Northwestern errors and a kill by Kasara Newton got it all the way up to 24-22, Northwestern. One more Terryville error finished the job, 25-22.
“We have difficulty under pressure,” said Terryville coach Coggshall.
That’s what Game Five came down to.
Northwestern’s Clarke had two kills on the way to a 5-0 Highlander lead. The other three points were errors.
By 12-7, Northwestern, Newkirk had her momentum going. She put away a kill, then jumped for two more aces and the win.
The Highlanders host Lewis Mills next Monday in their next big test of nerves.
Northwestern 3, Terryville 2
(24-26; 25-16; 11-25; 25-22; 15-9)
At Northwestern High School
Highlights: T-Libby Rrahimi 9 kills, 3 aces; Bailey Doran 5 kills, 10 digs; 3 aces. NW-Liz Newkirk 9 kills; 5 aces; Gina Folino 27 assists, 2 kills, 3 aces, 2 digs; Taylor Fetzer 8 kills, 6 aces, 7 digs.
Records: Terryville 2-5 (1-2 Berkshire League); Northwestern 3-1 (3-0 BL).