Northgate volleyball team falls to Starr's Mill at Elite 8By DOUG GORMAN
The Northgate Lady Vikings volleyball team hoped to advance to the Class AAAAA Final Four Saturday night, but region rival Starr's Mill had other ideas.
The Lady Panthers lost the first game of the best-of-five match, but regrouped for a 3-1 victory (23-25, 25-13, 25-20, 25-21) in a battle of two, top-ranked teams.
The Lady Vikings entered the match as the third seed and got to host sixth-seed Starr's Mill on its own court. Northgate and Starr's Mill played twice in the regular season with the Lady Vikings sweeping both matches.
"I'd say it was a great season," Northgate coach Matt Truck said. "We were able to win 30 games and that is sort of a magic number."
The fourth game was filled with drama as the Lady Vikings did everything they could to push the contest to fifth and deciding game.
Paced by the serves of Elle McCord, who missed the first month of the season, Northgate jumped out front 5-1. Starr's Mill fought back in a game that featured nine ties.
After falling behind 21-20, Northgate forced one last tie at 21-all before the Lady Panthers closed out the match with four straight points.
Northgate never trailed in the first game, but Starr's Mill showed just how tight the contest was going to be after rallying from being down 20-15 to trim Lady Vikings lead to two twice down the stretch.
It was the second game that turned the tide in Starr's Mill's favor.
After Northgate built a 4-1 lead on deep serves by senior McCord, who has committed to play at the University of Georgia, Starr's Mill rallied back sparked by the play of Nikki Resler who served the Lady Panthers to the lead
After Starr's Mill went out front 6-5, they never trailed again.
A couple of winning shots from Randee Harvel kept the game tight at 10-8, but that was a close as the Lady Vikings could get. An impressive shot by Sutton Goodrich later in the match fell for a winner as the Lady Panthers took a 13-8 lead. Starr's Mill outscored the Lady Panthers 12-5 the rest of the way to close out the second contest and tie the match at 1-all.
"That game made the difference," Trucks said. "They just built that lead and we couldn't stop it."
Starr's Mill pulled away from several ties in the third game, including one at 15-all to eventually win 25-20.
Saturday's loss ends is the end of a special era in Northgate volleyball.
Seniors McCord, Kayla Mappin, Taylor Kidner, Brittany Scarbrough, and Jessica Johnson finished their high school career at Northgate. They helped lift the program to new heights with three trips to the Elite 8, one trip to the final four, and at least 25 wins each year.
"What can you say, they are like daughters," Trucks said. "They have been a part of this program for a long time."
Trucks knows his team's future is bright.
"I told the girls coming back, that this gives us something to build on next year," he said.
Juniors Randee Harvel, Erin Valentine and Michaella Crooks will take on the roles of upperclassman next year.