By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
For NorthWood’s six volleyball seniors, Thursday night’s nonconference matchup against Elkhart Central was their final match on their home floor — the Panther Pit.
And according to Panther senior Savannah Bley, that was exactly the topic of discussion in the locker room before the match.
“It was pretty intense in there,” Bley said,
And at the end ofthe match, that intensity paid off with 25-19, 13-25, 25-20, 23-25, 15-12 victory over the Blue Blazers.
Panther coach Hillary Rebber said it was just the kind of intense match her team needs to get ready for next week’s Class 3A Fairfield sectional.
“It was one of those back-and-forth matches,” Rebber said. “We came out with intensity, and we finished with it.”
After the two teams traded the first two sets, the NorthWood pulled away midway through the third set.
Elkhart Central jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the fourth set, but the Panthers methodically chipped away, tying it at 16 and then taking a brief 18-17 lead before the Blazers rallied to take the set.
The Blue Blazers looked to be off to the better start in the fifth set, getting out to an early 6-2 advantage. But again the Panthers weathered the early Central blitz and responded with one of their own, ripping off an 8-2 run to take a 10-8 advantage.
NorthWood never trailed again.
Rebber’s team can’t quite look forward to the sectional yet, however. The Panthers will play in the Penn Tournament on Saturday, with four matches.
Rebber said the long day of volleyball should help her team.
“We’re hoping it will raise our level of play to where it needs to be for a tough sectional.” Rebber said.