When asked what she was most pleased with in her team's first two wins of the season, North Platte Community College volleyball coach Sally Thalken said that it was the resiliency the Lady Knights showed on Friday in their victories over Williston State College and Sheridan College.
"I thought we saw a lot of heart," Thalken said. "We played scrappy and we played with a lot of heart."
NPCC opened the Subway Invite with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-14 win over Williston State.
The first set was fairly even with both teams being tied at 23. A kill by Samantha Byrn gave the Knights the lead and a hitting error by Williston gave NPCC the set.
In the second set, the Lady Knights broke away late to take a 22-15 lead and they went up two sets shortly thereafter.
NPCC cruised in the third set to get the sweep over the Tetons. The Knights scored the first three points and the lead grew to 9-4.
Williston came within two at 11-9. But a kill by Kylie Wroot gave the Lady Knights the serve back. Byrn then served for six straight points to give NPCC an insurmountable lead.
"I think the kids were nervous," Thalken said. "You don't know what to expect in the first match and we had a slow start against Williston."
The Knights saw a tougher battle against Sheridan but they persevered in four sets; 25-22, 24-26, 25-14, 27-25.
In the first set, NPCC took a 23-22 lead after Wroot made a kill on the left side and then Byrn served for an ace to give the Lady Knights setpoint. On the next play, they closed it out when Sam Kennedy made a kill from the middle.
The second set was also played evenly. Sheridan evened the match up after Tyler Chrisman made kills on each of the last two points.
In the third set, NPCC raised their intensity. They countered the taller Sheridan hitters by moving quicker on defense.
The Knights scored the first four points of the set with Laura Beckman serving and they never looked back.
Both teams battled in the fourth set. NPCC had matchpoint at 24-22 but the Generals won the next three points to get within one point of forcing a deciding fifth set.
But the Lady Knights took the next three to close it out and end their first day of competition 2-0.
"They're a bigger team but we had a little luck," Thalken said. "We're a bigger team than we used to be but we're playing bigger teams and we're going to have to get used to that."