By RYAN HERMAN
North Lincoln left the 2A ranks with three straight conference volleyball titles in its back pocket.
The Knights made their 3A debut on Tuesday and picked up right where they left off.
Olivia Loeffler and Courtney Trickle combined for 13 aces and 32 service points, and Tressa Amico had five kills as North Lincoln kicked off its season with a 3-0 win at former conference rival Lincolnton.
Set scores were 25-16, 25-6 and 25-11.
“The girls started out strong,” 11th-year Knights coach Lynn Rhyne said. “We have some things to work on, but as a starter I think this gives them a confidence booster going into that new conference. They needed that.
“I’m proud of the girls. I thought they did well tonight.”
The game –– the teams were both part of the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference for eight years –– started out nip-and-tuck. But a roster technicality in which the Wolves’ starting lineup didn’t match up with the officials’ forced them the make unplanned changes.
While that was going on the Knights (1-0) kept plugging away.
A mini spurt in which Savannah Dishman served up back-to-back aces plus a Lincolnton error gave North Lincoln a modest 11-5 lead in the first set.
Three straight points later in which the Knights sent the ball either out of bounds or into the net allowed the Wolves (0-1) to climb back in and cut it to 11-8, but they never got closer than three points the rest of the set.
Or the rest of the game.
North Lincoln, which is now part of the North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference, scored the first seven points of the second set and the first eight of the third to win going away.
Lincolnton, a member of the Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference, led just twice the entire game and both came in its first three points.
The Wolves led 1-0 when Trickle, who had five aces and 19 service points, sent the opening serve out of bounds. They then led 2-1 after Jayden Maddox sent her first serve out of bounds.
But a double-hit call on Lincolnton on the next point tied it, and the Wolves never led again.
Samantha White had four attacks and five digs, Nicole Arzuaga added five attacks and Kayla Quigley had 10 assists for Lincolnton.
“The lineup I wrote and the lineup (the official) wrote conflicted, so we had to do some adjusting on the court or we were going to lose two points for rotation. So that, I think, really threw us off because we had to regroup and get back together,” third-year Wolves coach Kathy-Jo Lindroth said. “As far as our team, things we need to improve on are definitely recovering from our mistakes.
“I have a really young team. I only have three seniors. Recovering from our mistakes and making sure we don’t lose the next point, that’s where we’ve got a lot of work to do.”