Cedar Rapids, Iowa – North Platte Community College volleyball team opened the second day of the NJCAA DII National Volleyball Championship with a sweep of Carl Sandburg Community College.
Knights battled back and forth with the Chargers of Carl Sandburg in the early stages of the first set. Leading 5-4, Katy Bartell and Peyton Negley stretched the Knights lead to three on an ace serve and a kill off the high hands of the Chargers block.
North Platte stretched their lead to seven, midway through the opening set on an ace serve by Erica Hopping. An attacking error by the Chargers and back-to-back kills by Negley extended the North Platte lead out to ten, 16-6.
Carl Sandburg cut the deficit down to eight, but the Knights offense kept rolling with kills from Negley, Taylor Hansen, and Avery Johnson in the closing moments of set one, to take the early 1-0 set lead.
Knights rolled out of the gate in set two, pushing their lead out to 7-2 on a kill by Hansen. Chargers rallied and cut the deficit down to one by the midway point of the second set, before a short 3-0 rally capped off by a kill from Alysen Daniels extended the North Platte lead back to four, 16-12. Knights held the momentum for the remainder of the set and cruised to a 25-18 set victory.
In set three, the Knights once again battled with the Chargers with no clear team taking an advantage in the opening moments. North Platte quickly grabbed the momentum as five errors and a kill by Hopping turned into six straight points for the Knights, 11-5.
Knights continued to hold the momentum in the third set, extending their lead out to eleven on another error by Carl Sandburg, 22-11. North Platte closed the third set with a kill by Kim Krise and back-to-back ace serves by Ruby Valle, 25-13.
Knights hit .333 for the match, while Carl Sandburg was held to a .024 hitting percentage. As a team, the Knights had 38 kills on 81 total attacks, 10 ace serves, and seven total blocks.
Negley led the Knights with 14 kills in 27 total attacks for a .481 hitting percentage in the match. She also led the Knights in digs with 11, while teammate Hopping compiled 28 set assists, seven digs, and one ace serve in three sets against the Chargers.
In their second match of the day, the Knights faced off with the Titans of Terra State Community College.
Knights rolled in the opening set against Terra State, jumping out to an 8-5 lead on a kill by Negley. Hansen pushed the North Platte lead to six, as she was able to sneak her kill inside the back line, 13-7. North Platte never relinquished the lead and closed out the set on a kill by Hansen, 25-13.
Knights endured a slow start in set two as the Titans built a 10-4 lead. North Platte countered the Terra State rally with a kill by Negley and an attacking error to pull back within four. Titans kept the momentum on their side for the remainder of the set and evened the match at one set each.
In the third set, the Knights rallied back from six down to tie the game up at 8-8, on an ace serve by Bartell. Titans extended their lead out to five, but North Platte fought back with some great defense by Tania Morales. Trailing 20-16, the Knights quickly cut the deficit to one as Morales made some acrobatic defensive digs, that helped North Platte capture the momentum needed to earn the come from behind set win, 25-22.
Terra State would not go down easy as they stole set four and forced a decisive set five. In set five, North Platte answered the early 3-0 rally by the Titans, to take the lead on an attacking error by Terra State, 4-3.
Knights and Titans continued to battle until midway through the fifth set, as a 5-0 rally by Terra State forced a North Platte timeout. The Knights attempted to swing the momentum, but the deficit could not be overcome ending the Knights impressive 2021 campaign.
Negley tallied 19 kills, 10 digs, 2 ace serves, and one block against Terra State. Hopping finished her sophomore campaign with 37 set assists, five digs, and two blocks. Valle was the top defensive specialist for the Knights totaling 13 digs in the match.
The North Platte Community College volleyball team includes area players Alysen Daniels of Mullen and Madison Neely of Broken Bow.
North Platte finishes their 2021 season with an overall record of 16-16 and a perfect record against DII Region IX opponents.