By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Concord went on the road Thursday night and didn’t let a first-game loss get them off track.
Concord dropped the initial game 25-14 at NorthWood before coming back with 25-14, 26-24, 25-19 wins to record their first NLC victory of the season.
“It’s always tough playing on the road,” Concord junior Gabby Staggs said.
“It’s always fun to come in and beat a team in their home gym,” Concord junior Mackenzie Granitz added.
Concord’s coach Laurie Rhoades didn’t know why her team got off to a slow start.
“We were flat in the first game and I don’t know why. We were so looking forward to playing the first conference match,” she said. “Once we picked things up it was better but we still got down by eight points (10-2 and 18-10) before coming back to win the third game.
“I called time out and told them we had been in this situation before. We came back before and there was no reason why we couldn’t do it again. I didn’t tell them to relax, but I did tell them to take some deep breaths. It was a matter of belief. The coaches believed they could do it and so did the players.”
NorthWood coach Hilary Laidig said, “We are very young. We only returned two starters from last year. We have been battling ups and downs like this all season.
“One thing I would like to see is our girls being more aggressive. We gave Concord some balls tonight and they made us pay for it. We need to be more aggressive at the net. We need to send balls over harder. There were some we lobbed over.”
Concord (9-4, 1-0 NLC) is at South Bend Adams Tuesday. NorthWood (5-4, 0-1) is at South Bend Riley also on Tuesday.
Sophomore Francesca Rodino served five aces, sophomore Nicky Chupp four, junior Jade Iavagnilio two and senior Cassidy Higgins one for the winners.
“Our serving was very aggressive,” Granitz said.
“We normally have four or five total aces,” Rhoades said. Tonight we had two girls that had that many aces.”
Rhoades pointed out a change she made in her lineup during the match. Junior Holyn Eldridge is generally the Concord setter, but played some at hitter on Thursday with Chupp sharing time at setter.
“Holyn struggled a little bit,” the coach said. “So I brought Chupp in and she did a great job. Holyn ended up with 19 kills. She loves to hit. She just doesn’t get the chance very often.”
Staggs had an excellent night at the net with 19 kills (three errors) and eight blocks (five solo).
“Gabby doesn’t get blocked very often,” Rhoades said.
“My blocking was the best part of my game,” Staggs said. “I stayed within my hitter and put the ball down.”
Granitz added “The hitters were finding the spots and mixing up the spots.”
NorthWood’s senior setter Allie Mattingly had 34 assists.
“Allie did everything she could, but we just can’t get her the ball often enough,” Laidig said. “She does a great job when we get her the ball, but if you don’t get her the ball it’s tough.”
Aces — Francesca Rodino 5, Nicky Chupp 4, Jade Iavagnilio 2, Cassidy Higgins 1. Kills —Gabby Staggs 19, Mackenzie Granitz 13, Holyn Eldridge 10. Digs — Francesca Rodino 25, Cassidy Higgins 15, Jade Iavagnilio 14. Blocks — Gabby Staggs 8 (5 solo).
Aces — Allie Mattingly 4. Assists — Allie Mattingly 34. Kills —Alana Strycker 21, Sydney Wysong 9, Morgan Olson 7. Digs — Allie Mattingly 18, Morgan Olson 18, Sydney Wysong 11. Blocks — Ashley Yoder 3, Allie Mattingly 2.
JV: NorthWood win 25-19, 25-13. (NorthWood: Nicole Flickinger 4 aces, 10 digs; Lainie Holland 10 kills, 1 block; Nancy Rice 13 assists, Abby Adams 10 assists, Emily Schrock 7 digs.