POWERS - The 10-2 Superior Central Cougars came into town Monday expecting to maintain their first place position. The North Central Jets showed them that sometimes, expectations don't pan out, as the Jets fought the Cougars through a grueling five sets and won 3-2 (25-14, 11-25, 25-21, 20-25, 15-9).
The Cougars looked a bit sluggish during the first set, and the Jets were able to take advantage of that, running out to a nice lead. The score was 24-14 when North Central's Amber Buck pulled off the kill to put the set away.
The tables turned in the second set, as the Cougars stormed off to earn a 16-8 lead. Then, Lindsey Richmond began a service run that extended for eight points and featured a Kelsey Coleman kill and a tough block by Teslyn Tyner to provide them with a 24-8 advantage. North Central got on a small run, but the disparity in scoring was just too much and the Cougars won 25-11.
Paul Gerard photo
North Central’s Kennedy Faccio tries to tip the ball past Vanessa Freberg (8)?of Superior Central as Teslyn?Tyner looks on Monday at Powers.
Paul Gerard photo
North Central's Paige Whitens hits the ball over the net during her team's match against Superior Central Monday.
Both the Jets and the Cougars seemed to be partial to a certain side of the court, as neither team was able to win when they switched to the other side. The third set was certainly more closely matched, but North Central was able to get a late run going, and turned a lead of 21-19 into a 25-21 win.
The competition of that set continued over into the fourth set. The Jets began with a 7-0 run with Natily Betters serving. The Cougars took a time out to get themselves adjusted, and it worked like a charm. Superior Central came out with their own 7-0 run led by the serving of Kyla Johns to tie the game.
Both teams were able to build scoring runs back and forth, but the Cougars had the edge and won 25-20 to force a sudden death fifth set.
NORTH CENTRAL - Faccio (24 assists, 5 kills, 4 aces, 1 dig); Wells (9 digs, 4 blocks, 15 kills); Whitens (3 blocks, 6 aces, 10 kills, 8 digs); Buck (4 kills, 6 digs, 4 aces).
SUPERIOR CENTRAL - Coleman (2 aces, 11 kills, 3 blocks, 10 digs); Barrows (9 kills, 1 assist, 12 digs); Freberg (1 ace, 8 kills, 2 assists, 10 digs); Bray (5 aces, 3 kills, 5 digs); Richmond (1 ace, 24 assists, 12 digs).
After a 3-3 tie in the fifth set, the Jets broke it open on a great service run by Paige Whitens that included three straight aces to give them a 9-3 lead. The Cougars were able to right the ship to get within four points, but the Whitens' service run had done too much damage, and the Jets took the set 15-9 to give them their third win of the year.
"They played immense tonight," said North Central coach Andy DeBock. "They played as a team from start to finish. Emotions got pretty high at the end there, but they pushed through it. I couldn't be more proud of my girls tonight."
DeBock added that usually when the Jets find themselves in a fifth set, they have a hard time finishing and winning, because they seem to get nervous, but they had the killer instinct against the Cougars.
"They did what they needed to do tonight" he said. "They proved that they can be competitors."
With the loss, Superior Central falls to 10-3 and are no longer alone atop the conference, and Cougars coach Kris Bray was not convinced that her team put their best effort into the game.
"We just were not playing like ourselves, we weren't being aggressive," she said. "It came down to not communicating and a lack of intensity on our part. We were just out of it today. We need to be mentally tougher."
The Cougars jayvees won 2-0 (25-19, 25-18).
North Central heads to Munising Tuesday, while the Cougars wrap up their season at Mid Peninsula Thursday.