North Iredell overcame a rowdy West Iredell student section and saved two set points in the fourth to close out the match win Thursday.
The Raiders regrouped from a 25-21 loss in the opening set to win the next three—two that went to extra points—26-24, 25-20, 31-29.
The Warriors saved four match points in the fourth before finally succumbing a night after going five sets to beat Morganton Patton.
The North Iredell victory proved harder to come by than the teams’ previous meeting Aug. 29, when the Raiders triumphed 25-23, 25-20, 25-17.
“David Parsons, I completely respect him,” North Iredell coach Megan Norris said of her West Iredell coaching counterpart. “He definitely had them ready for us.”
First-year Raiders notable contributors in rivalry match
The Raiders found themselves twice on the brink of going to a fifth and decisive set. It was 25-24 in favor of West Iredell in the fourth when North Iredell junior middle Karli Gray recorded her eighth kill. She also had a match-high five point-scoring blocks.
The Warriors led 28-27 when freshman Emma Norris tallied her seventh kill to square things at 28. Freshman outside hitter Madeline Sigmon’s eighth kill gave the Raiders a 29-28 advantage. West Iredell pulled even once more but a sixth service error put the Raiders back in front, and they closed it out.
Ailena Mykins, one of three North Iredell freshmen to see considerable court time, chipped in with 16 assists and one ace.
“The freshmen held their own,” Norris said.
Player of the game
North Iredell’s Mayson James finished with a match-best 19 kills. The senior right side hitter found a groove in the third and fourth sets, combining for 12 kills during those frames with several coming at key moments.
“She did what she needed to do under pressure,” Megan Norris said. “That’s in her every single time. When she messed up she didn’t get down. She wanted the ball again.”
Areas of improvement
The Warriors weren’t at 100 percent in the teams’ previous meeting. Junior right side hitter Meg Tillery and senior libero Emily Johnson played through injuries.
Johnson provided good back row defense Thursday, and Tillery finished with 10 kills, with five of those coming early in the fourth set when the Warriors opened up a 9-5 lead.
Beyond their increased productivity, Parsons identified another aspect which he felt made the Warriors more formidable in the rematch.
“The coverage against their power hitters,” he said. “We knew we needed to do a better job of keeping the ball in the air. I felt we did that for the most part.”
Perhaps nowhere was that more apparent than in the second set. Junior libero Kairah Yang dug Gray’s monster smash. The ball had so much pace on it that it went off Yang’s arms, back across the net and deep into the Raiders’ side of the court where it fell for a point that gave the Warriors a 15-14 lead.
North Iredell appeared to even the match at one set apiece when the ball went beyond the back line on a Warriors attack.
West Iredell appealed, asking for a touch from a North Iredell player. The lead official overturned the call bringing the score to 24-24.
Two points separated the Warriors from a 2-0 lead in the match. But a service error—only their second of the match—put the Raiders back in front, and then West Iredell’s last spike attempt sailed long.
Parsons found little fault in his team’s effort.
“I could see the desire was there from the opening serve,” he said.
By the numbers
Senior setter Caitlin Guzik handed out 27 assists for North Iredell. Senior libero Natalie Ottone led in digs with 17, and Sigmon supplied another 13 digs to complement her offensive efforts.
Freshman outside hitter Addison Gallyon led the Warriors in kills with 13. Junior setter Reese Holland handed out at match-high 43 assists. Everette Sherrill added 14 assists.
West Iredell junior middle Haven Gallyon had five kills and three blocks. Junior middle Macy Rhodes also had three blocks.
The Raiders (6-2) open North Piedmont Conference play Tuesday at home against last year’s co-champion Carson.
West Iredell (5-6, 3-1) resumes Northwestern Foothills Conference action when it travels to Claremont on Monday to face Bunker Hill.