By RYAN HERMAN
PUMPKIN CENTER –– Thanks to its own doing North Lincoln was forced to play catch-up with Lake Norman, but the Wildcats couldn’t be caught.
The Knights were plagued by errors all game, and their final attempt at a rally ended with miscue No. 58 as Lake Norman won the conference volleyball game 3-2 on Tuesday.
North Lincoln (7-4, 2-3 North Piedmont 3A/4A) took the first set 25-22, but dropped the next two 25-19 and 25-22 before rallying with a fourth set win at 25-18.
But the game-clinching point scored by Lake Norman (3-2 NP3A/4A) was an all too familiar error that hurt the Knights in the middle sets.
“I was very proud of them that fourth set because they didn’t give up,” Knights coach Lynn Rhyne said. “I think we made some dumb decisions when it came to certain plays, of course that just comes with experience in playing together. As we play together, I think we’re getting more consistent, but that’s going to come into being a factor as we get farther down the road.”
Savannah Dishman had 12 kills and five aces, and Lyndsi Pound and Tressa Amico combined for 14 blocks up front as North Lincoln was solid all-around defensively.
Even with a set-high 19 errors in a first set win, the Knights were undone by 26 errors over the next two sets that gave the Wildcats the 2-1 lead that couldn’t be overcome.
As the game progressed North Lincoln improved in the error category, committing just six in taking set four and seven in the final set.
After the Knights won the fourth set going away, the fifth and deciding set was nip-and-tuck throughout.
Neither team led by more than two points, and that happened just five times, including the final 15-13 margin.
A pair of Lake Norman errors gave North Lincoln a 3-1 lead, but the Wildcats rallied to take a 4-3 lead thanks to two Knights errors and a kill from Mallory Swarts.
North Lincoln regained the lead two points later on a kill by Dishman, but the Wildcats benefited from three North Lincoln mishaps in the next four points for the lead.
Lake Norman held the lead until a drop shot by Liza Sipe coupled with a ball hit in the net by the Wildcats gave North Lincoln a 13-12 advantage.
But Lake Norman scored the final three points, the last coming off a misplayed ball in the middle of the Knights offense that found that net.
“They came back and they worked hard because that last (set) could have gone either way,” Rhyne said.
Sipe added six kills and three aces and Pound had four kills and eight blocks as North Lincoln had its modest two-game win streak snapped.