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NC routs Caps in top 10 pairing

Posted: September 27, 2012 12:01 p.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Matches between top six teams are not supposed to be this one-sided.
The steamroller, which is the third-ranked North Central volleyball team, ran over, around and through sixth-ranked Columbia, sweeping a Region 3-AA showdown Tuesday night inside The Castle in Boonetown.
The precision-like 25-16, 25-13 and 25-16 victory gave Andy Johnson’s charges a 9-0 record in dual match play and, more importantly, a 4-0 conference ledger. The loss was the first in four region outings for the Lady Capitals.
Johnson, whose team was never severely tested in any of the three contests on Tuesday, said he laid the cards on the table when talking to his girls about the importance of this match.
“I didn’t try to hide anything from them; I told them what to expect,” he said. “They have some big girls. We came out and performed pretty well.”
Pretty well? How does holding double-digit leads in games one and two and a nine-point cushion, at one time, in the finale grab you?
In game one, NC’s Madeline Pate served up three straight points as the hostesses jumped to a 4-0 lead. A Pate kill and an Erin Humphries ace would help extend the lead to 12-4 and from there, the rout was on. Things did get a bit sloppy at one point as Columbia used a 3-0 run to climb back to within 17-11.
That would be close enough for the Lady Knights who used a Humphries kill --- one of her 13 on the night --- and an Ashley Rogers ace to stop the bleeding in a game which ended with one of eight kills on the night from Pate.
NC was able to neutralize a solid Columbia front line throughout the night, which played a key role in the victory.
“They were athletic on the front row and had some pretty good-sized players up there. I thought our girls, for the most part, played pretty well and did a good job tonight,” Johnson said.
Game two was more of the same as NC bolted to a 7-1 lead with Rogers serving up six straight points with two aces in the run. The visitors tried to take away the momentum by calling a time out when trailing, 11-2. That was merely a stop in play as the Lady Knights would build their lead to 18-6 and cruise with a 25-13 win.
Game three was a mere formality even though Columbia was within 7-5 early in the contest. The guests were still within striking distance late, trailing 20-15 before a Humphries kill. She then served up three straight winners, with an ace included, to help close the Lady Capitals out.
Jo Phillips was the point girl for the winners as she dished out 30 assists to go along with five digs. Rogers had a team-best 10 digs while serving up five aces and adding two assists and a kill. Pate had eight digs to go with as many kills.
“We did a pretty good job with our court movement,” Johnson said of the effort. “As the match went on, our hitters were doing a better job of placing the ball where we wanted to hit them. I also thought our passing was good, as was our serve-receive.”
Humphries was dominant along the net with 13 kills. She also had six digs and four aces. Ambi Wood came up big at middle hitter with nine kills and a block. Kaileigh Davis added seven kills to go along with four digs and two blocks.
In spite of his team’s seventh straight regular season sweep, Johnson said his girls have plenty of work left to be done.
“We made a list, with my assistant coach, during the match so we already know what we’re going to work on tomorrow in practice,” he said.
“We try to improve upon every play. I tell them that we’re chasing perfection. Sometimes, in the game of volleyball, you have what we call a ‘crazy’ ball where it sometimes catches the tape and rolls down or, sometimes it catches the line. We’re still trying to make adjustments because we’re still really young, overall.”
Johnson, whose team traveled to meet Fairfield Central on Thursday to complete the first go-through in Region 3-AA, smiled when asked if he was worried that his team might get complacent with so many easy wins.
“I don’t think that’s an issue,” he said.
“A lot of times, I will tell our girls that we can’t control what happens on the other side of the net. We just have to do what we do and do it well. That’s kind of our motto when it comes to practice time and to game time.”

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