Cedar Rapids, Iowa – North Platte Community College volleyball team fell in the opening round of the NJCAA National Volleyball Championship to Catawba Valley Community College, 3-1. Alysen Daniels of Mullen and Madison Neely of Broken Bow play for NPCC.
In the opening set, the Knights jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on back-to-back ace serves by Katy Bartell. Red Hawks responded to tie the score up at 2-2, before a Peyton Negley swing sent one by the Catawba Valley defensive specialist, to give the advantage back to the Knights, 3-2.
Red Hawks and Knights traded points back and forth, before six straight points by Catawba Valley pushed their lead to 13-7. A block by Avery Johnson in the middle of the Knights defense halted the Red Hawks run momentarily. Catawba Valley answered extending their lead to eight in the first set, capitalizing on three straight kills. North Platte was unable to narrow the deficit in the opening set, as the Red Hawks earned the opening set victory, 25-15.
Knights rolled in the second set, jumping out to a 10-4 advantage on a kill by Alysen Daniels. Red Hawks cut the deficit to three on a service error, but the Knights responded and pushed their lead back out to six on a kill by Daniels and Johnson, 19-13. North Platte held the Red Hawks in check for the remainder of the set, as back-to-back blocks by Daniels and Johnson earned the Knights the second set victory, 25-16.
North Platte endured a slow start in set three, falling behind 10-2. Knights rallied with three straight points, capped off by an ace serve by Hopping to cut the deficit to five, 10-5. North Platte chipped away at the deficit and cut it to three after a service error by Catawba Valley, 18-15.
Red Hawks worked their lead back to five, but North Platte continued to battle trimming the deficit to two after a kill by Hansen and an attacking error by Catawba Valley, 22-20. Red Hawks held off the Knights in the closing moments of set three, but the late rally by the Knights helped secure some momentum for set four.
Knights held the advantage through the early stages of the fourth set, pushing their lead to 9-7 on a kill by Negley. Red Hawks responded with a 7-0 rally and opened an eight-point deficit midway through the set. North Platte attempted to swing the momentum in their favor to force a decisive set five, but the Red Hawks kept the Knights from getting any closer than four in the closing moments to earn the 25-16 victory.
Knights hit .125 for the match, while Catawba Valley hit .241. North Platte had their best hitting performance in set two where they compiled a .304 hitting percentage, with 10 kills and only three errors.
North Platte was led by Taylor Hansen and Peyton Negley who each tallied 14 kills in the match. Erica Hopping had 43 assists, 15 digs, and one ace serve, while teammate Ruby Valle compiled 21 digs.
North Platte moves into the ninth-place consolation bracket with an opportunity to continue their season in the second day of action at the NJCAA DII Volleyball Championship. Knights will take on Carl Sandburg College at 10:00 a.m. CT at the Alliant Energy Powerhouse Arena in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.