By RYAN HERMAN
PUMPKIN CENTER –– Barring anything overly dramatic –– such as Statesville winning the conference tournament –– North Lincoln has a lock on the state playoffs.
The Greyhounds tried to create some drama with an upset on Tuesday, but the Knights shut the door.
Savannah Dishman had eight kills and six aces and Liza Sipe added eight kills as North Lincoln fought off Statesville 3-1 on senior night.
The Greyhounds (1-12 North Piedmont 3A/4A) sit in last place in the league standings, and must win next week’s league tournament to continue playing.
Like a team fighting for its life, Statesville put the Knights (13-9, 5-8) on early alert with a 25-22 win in the first set.
North Lincoln responded, as six seniors played in what will most likely be their final home game.
“They’ve improved since the last time we played them,” Knights coach Lynn Rhyne said. “They’ve got some good hitters. They’ve got one girl who can really slam it down. We’ve just got to get ready for that.”
That one girl is Shimiah Oglesby, who had a game-high nine kills and accounted for 11 of her team’s points.
Oglesby and Maggie Mouat (eight kills) combined for 20 of the Greyhounds’ 30 points generated by offense. The other 50 came by way of North Lincoln errors.
Still, the Knights were able to overcome the mistakes, like it has most of the season.
“We’re kind of used to making uncalled-for errors. It was kind of normal, a normal game for us,” Sipe said.
While Sipe, Bailey Russell, Chandler Keller, Mallory Bolen, Jayden Maddox and Olivia Loeffler enjoyed a win on their home court on senior night, it didn’t come easy.
The Knights rallied from behind to win Set 2 25-21, fought off a big Statesville rally to win Set 3 25-20 (the Greyhounds trailed 13-6 before pulling to within as few as two) then put their foot on the gas to pull away for a 25-14 win in the deciding fourth set.
Tressa Amico had two blocks, five kills and seven points, Lyndsi Pound had four kills, six aces, three digs and 10 points, Maddox added five kills and six points and Loeffler swung for three kills and five digs.
“It was going out with a bang. It’s my last (home) game as a senior. It was nice to win,” Sipe said.
The tough game has been the norm for a conference loaded with strong volleyball.
As a split league, the NP3A/4A gets four 3A teams into the state playoffs while, due to NCHSAA seeding, all three 4A teams (Alexander Central, Lake Norman and Mooresville) reach the postseason regardless of what happens in the conference tournament, which begins Monday.
As strong a conference as North Lincoln hails from, Rhyne sees it as a positive heading into the state playoffs. That is, as long as Statesville doesn’t run the table.
“From the time we’ve started until now, we’ve had to play very tough teams in this 3A-4A conference. There was no cake walking in this conference. These girls have had to play,” she said.
“We’re on this upward swing, so I hope it continues into the state playoffs.”