North Union’s Riley Heminger (13) puts the ball past a Cardington blocker Tuesday evening. NU’s season ended with a loss to the second-seeded Pirates in the Division III tournament. (Photo submitted)
The records of the two teams in Tuesday’s Division III sectional volleyball tournament match at Cardington were very much slanted in one direction.
Cardington, the second seed, sported a 17-3 mark while North Union, seeded 16th, came into the contest with a 5-17 record.
Through the first two sets, though, the Lady Cats stood toe-to-toe with the Lady Pirates, forcing them to stage late rallies to win the opening games.
Cardington picked up the pace in the third set, although North Union still fought valiantly, and came away with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-11 victory.
“We really battled in the first two sets,” NU coach Alexis Maenz said. “Coming in we wanted to get to Cardington’s level of competition. We showed that we could compete.”
Several times North Union dug deep to get to some high-powered attacks by the Lady Pirates, keeping the ball alive so it could try to set up offense.
When the Lady Cats were getting the digs they were able to tip the hits at the net, taking some of the steam off the attacks.
Cardington jumped out to a quick lead in the first set, using a six-point run to take a 13-4 lead. Riley Burchett served a pair of aces during the run.
North Union, however, answered with a block kill and regular kill from Riley Heminger and a kill Abi Zimmerman to cut the lead to 13-8.
Later in the set, Sienna Ballinger had two kills and a block getting North Union to within two at 18-16.
NU fought all the way back with a four-point spurt, earning a tie at 21. Zimmerman notched two kills and Zoe Wedding and Hope Hall each had one.
Cardington scored four of the final five points of the set for the victory.
North Union had the upper hand during the early points of the ensuing game.
Two blocks and a kill by Ballinger started NU out to a 4-0 edge.
The Lady Cats later scored five straight points to hold a 13-9 lead.
Wedding started the second run with a second-hit kill.
Kayla Sedgwick served an ace, while Hall and Ballinger each had kills.
Cardington turned up the pressure to tie the set at 18, but back-to-back Lady Pirate errors had NU back in front.
Once again, as it did in the first set, Cardington came on strong at the end with a closing 7-1 run.
Audrey Briniger, who would finish with 21 kills on 41-of-44 in attacks, led the way with three kills.
A combined block kill by Ballinger and Candace Holloway and a tip kill by Ballinger gave the Lady Cats the opening 2-0 lead during the final game.
Cardington scored 21 of the next 25 markers, led by seven kills from Briniger, for a 21-6 lead.
North Union twice got the margin down to 12, helped by a service ace by Holloway and a kill by Heminger.
The deficit, though, was too much to make up and Cardington finished out the set for the overall win.
Maenz praised her seniors, Sedgwick, Holloway and Kiley Pedersen, for their leadership during the season.
“They truly were the leaders of the team,” she said. “We played well and that is what I want the team to take away from tonight.”
Ballinger and Heminger each had five kills with Hall adding four.
Ballinger notched four blocks, Sedgwick was 11-of-12 serving and Pedersen totaled 13 digs.
Holloway and Wedding combined to go 70-of-73 setting with 16 assists.