Journey Blevins of North Union hits the ball into the hands of a Centerburg blocker during the Lady Cats’ opening round of playoffs. Blevins had 21 kills in the 3-0 sweep. (Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The Lady Cats of North Union made quick work in their opening round of the volleyball post-season against the visiting Lady Trojans of Centerburg.
The seventh-seeded Lady Cats swept No. 13 Centerburg in only 63 minutes to move on to the Division III Central District semifinals.
The Cats had a slow start against the Trojans as the Centerburg servers picked up the first four points of the match on offerings the NU backline had trouble returning.
Head coach Peg Curts said the Lady Cats had to get their tournament jitters out of their systems before they could find their rhythm.
“We started out slow in the first game and needed to get into our rhythm of play to start earning our points,” she said. “I think there were some nerves involved since it was the first tournament game of our season, even though we were playing at home.”
Grace Brandt broke the early point streak for the Trojans with a tip over the net to give the Cats the serve.
North Union struggled to take advantage of its time on the line, but some solid hitting by Journey Blevins and Gabby Ziegler pulled NU even at 6-6.
Once the Cats jumped into the driver’s seat on the scoreboard, they kept the Lady Trojans well in their rearview mirror.
Inside and outside attacks allowed North Union to cruised to a quick 25-12 win in set one.
The Lady Cats struggled in their second set from self-induced errors.
The Trojans took advantage of those miscues to keep the game knotted through the 15-15 mark.
NU took over on the serve and put distance between itself and the Trojans with Blevins’ attacks.
She finished the match with 21 kills.
The Wildcats’ attack stretched their lead to 21-16.
A few long volleys later, North Union won 25-22.
Curts said the second set was too close, but it was all self-induced.
“We made too many errors of our own and so for the third set, we made it a priority to earn our points and stop making mistakes that gave them points,” she said.
The between sets talk paid off as NU scored the first point in the game and held the Lady Trojans at bay.
The Lady Cats spread the ball around on the attack and tallied points from the outside from Ziegler and Sydney Bacon.
Grace Brandt worked the middle of the front line for four kills.
North Union kept the late lead at 20-15.
Blevins helped complete the sweep by picking up four of the Cats’ final five points. The Lady Cats won the final set by a score of 25-16.
North Union will return to action in the Division III district semifinals against fourth-seeded Johnstown Northridge at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
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