The North Platte Community College volleyball team split its two matches on Friday at the season opening Subway Invite at the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.The Lady Knights lost a heartbreaker in the second match to Sheridan College 23-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15, 16-14 after sweeping Eastern Wyoming 25-15, 25-16, 25-18.
"I feel good about our kids," NPCC coach Sally Thalken said. "I fell we learned a little bit about these kids today."
The fifth set against Sheridan went back and fourth and neither team got much of a lead on the other. But the Generals scored the last two points of the match when Mikayla Hoffman made a kill from the right side and when NPCC's Samantha Byrn hit the ball into the antenna on the left side.
"It's always tough to lose when it's 14-14 in the fifth set," Thalken said. "We battled but the end was disappointing. Sheridan just played better down the stretch and they stayed in system in the fifth set."
In the first set against the Generals, it was the Lady Knights who made the plays at the end. With the score tied at 23 all, Sam Kennedy made a block of Hannah Jernigan to give North Platte the lead before Byrn won it by serving for an ace.
But in the second set, the Knights faltered as they surrendered the last seven points of the set with Hannah Casebolt serving for Sheridan. The rotation with the setter, Casebolt, serving gave NPCC fits all night long as the Generals had their two best hitters, Jernigan and her twin sister, Paige, at the net.
The Lady Knights rebounded late in the third set. Down 21-19, Kennedy made a kill to give the serve to Byrn, who scored the next five points to put NPCC in position to win.
But North Platte couldn't close it. The fourth set played out similar to the second. Sheridan got some momentum by scoring the last eight points of the set with Hoffman serving.
The Knights handled the rotations with Casebolt and Hoffman serving in the fifth. But they still weren't able to put together much as they only had one point on plays after serving.
In the first match, North Platte had little trouble with Eastern Wyoming. In all three sets, the Lady Knights dominated the middle and the end to sweep the Lancers.
"It was a good feeling to get a W on the scoreboard," Thalken said. "Eastern Wyoming's not a bad team. They're playing with a limited roster due to some injuries. But I felt good that we put them away in three."
NPCC continues the Subway Invite on Saturday when they play Casper College and Northeastern Junior College.