It took a come from behind effort in the fourth set on Thursday for the North Platte Community College volleyball team to put away pesky upstart Northeast Community College 28-30, 25-22, 25-20, 25-21 at the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium."(Northeast is) a good team and we knew they were a good team," said NPCC coach Sally Thalken. "We had to work hard to beat them and they pushed us."
The first set was pretty even until the Sandrina Hallahan served for three straight points to give NPCC a 22-18 lead.
The Lady Knights had setpoint at 24-20 after a kill by Sam Kennedy. But Northeast, a team in its first year of competition after disbanding its volleyball program 10 years ago, got back into it as NPCC committed hitting errors on the following three plays.
The Hawks then tied it up at 24 all after a kill by Nazya Thies. Both teams battled for the set until Northeast won it after Kirsten Fink stuffed Kennedy in the middle.
"In the first set, there were times when we played hard but we didn't communicate," Thalken said.
NPCC took control early in the second set after Samantha Byrn served for five straight points to give the Knights a lead of 10-6.
North Platte led as much as 18-12 before Northeast stormed back to tie the game at 19 after another block by Fink.
Both teams battled for the late momentum before the Lady Knights took a 23-21 lead after Byrn and Kennedy made blocks on consecutive plays.
Thies then made a kill to bring the Hawks to within one. But Northeast served the ball out to give NPCC its first setpoint of the second. The Knights then won it when a ball hit by Thies was ruled to be out.
"Whenever you play best of five and you lose the first set, you have to come back and win the second," Thalken said.
The third set was also tight. A kill by Kennedy broke a 19-19 tie and gave NPCC the lead. Then Kennedy and Sabrina Hallahan made kills on the following two plays to put the Lady Knights in good shape with a 22-19 advantage. Northeast won just one more point before NPCC took a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Hawks jumped out ahead 7-3 in the fourth and they led as much as 17-12. But a kill by Sandrina Hallahan gave the serve to Byrn, who scored the next five points and helped give the Knights the lead at 18-17.
Both teams traded points on the next two plays before NPCC took the lead for good when Sandrina Hallahan and Taylor King combined for a block.
Sabrina Hallahan made a kill on the following play to make it a two-point lead for the Lady Knights.
Kennedy then hit the ball into the net to bring Northeast within one. But she and Sabrina Hallahan made the next two kills to raise the lead to 22-19.
Another kill by Kennedy three plays later gave NPCC the first matchpoint of the night. The Hawks fought off the Knights for one play before serving the ball into the net and giving the win to the Lady Knights.
"We just focused on playing one ball at a time and one play at a time," Thalken said. "We jacked it up there because we had to."