The North Platte Community College Lady Knights volleyball team fell Monday night to Northeastern Junior College Plainswomen in a five set thriller.
Northeastern (16-5) is ranked No. 20 in Division I in the national junior college ratings. North Platte (16-8) is in Division II.
The match lasted two hours and 30 minutes.
The Lady Knights narrowly lost the first two sets, 25-27, 23-25, but came back to take the third and fourth sets, 25-23 and 25-20.
Northeast dominated the fifth set, 15-9.
The Lady Knights opened the night fast, jumping out to a 10-6 lead, but the Plainswomen battled back to take a 16-18 lead. The Lady Knights outscored the Plainswomen to tie the game at 22-22 and force a NJC timeout. After the Plainsmen scored a point, the Lady Knights scored two of their own to earn the first set point, forcing another Plainswomen timeout.
The teams exchanged points as the game again became tied at 25-25. The Lady Plainswomen were able to earn a side out and then had an ace serve to close out the first set, 25-27.
At the start of the second set, the Plainswomen continued to hold the momentum as they jumped out to a three-point lead. The Plainswomen maintained the lead throughout the early stages of the set with their largest at 9-13. The Lady Knights strung together a few points of their own to tie the game at 14-14 and then took their first lead of the game at 16-15.
The teams traded side outs before NJC tied the game at 18-18 and then took a lead at 18-20 to force a timeout by North Platte. The Lady Knights tied the set at 22-22 to set up another exciting finish. NJC got a side out and scored another point to earn a set point opportunity and force a timeout by the Lady Knights.
Samantha Kennedy slammed home a spike before the Plainswomen ended the set 23-25.
The Plainswomen started the third set by opening up a 4-9 lead on the Lady Knights and forcing North Platte into a timeout. The Lady Knights slowly chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game at 12-12. The Lady Knights and Plainswomen traded points and leads throughout the middle stages of the set before North Platte raced out to a 22-18 advantage.
The Plainswomen scored two straight points and then the Lady Knights scored two straight to earn a set point at 24-22. The Plainswomen then scored three straight to force a North Platte timeout at 24-23. Samantha Kennedy ended the third set for the Lady Knights as she blocked NJC's spike attempt to win 25-23.
The Lady Knights and Plainswomen started the fourth set by exchanging points before the Lady Knights opened up a lead, with the largest being 20-15. The Plainswomen then scored three straight points, prompting a timeout from North Platte. The Lady Knights and Plainswomen traded the next four points before the Lady Knights scored the final three points of the set to win 25-22 and force a decisive fifth set.
The Plainswomen drew first blood in the fifth set as they scored the first three points. The Lady Knights responded with three straight points before NJC answered with four straight to take a 7-3 lead. The Lady Knights cut the lead to 7-8 and forced the Plainswomen to take a timeout. The Plainswomen then scored the next five points to take a 7-13 lead. The two teams exchanged the final four points of the set to give the Plainswomen the victory 9-15.
Samantha Kennedy led the Lady Knights with 19 kills and Sandrina Hallahan had 14. Shannon Liewer had 25 digs and Joli Hopping had 31 assists to pace the Lady Knights.
"It was a great night (with the Pink Out)," said head coach Sally Thalken. "Our kids played really hard and it was a good volleyball game tonight. In the end we weren't as aggressive as we needed to be in the fifth set."
On Wednesday, the Lady Knights will honor their five sophomores; Sabrina Hallahan of Brush, Colo., Shannon Liewer of Imperial, Sandrina Hallahan of Brush, Colo., Jacee Kershaw of Culbertson and Laura Beckman of Julesburg. as they take on Southeast Community College.
The game will start at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 1410.
The Lady Knights defeated the Lady Storm in four sets earlier this year.