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Different region, same goals for Johnson, Lady Knights
Pate
SOPHOMORE MADELINE PATE RETURNS for her third varsity season at North Central. The Lady Knights will kick off their 2012 campaign when they travel to meet former Region 3-A rival Chesterfield next Tuesday.
If you think North Central is sweating out its move into the state class AA volleyball ranks, well, you can put those sports drinks and towels away.If the past is any indication of the present and future, the Lady Knights will be just fine after having been bumped up from class A this season.As a refresher course, let’s go back to the 2004 and 2005 campaigns, the last time Andy Johnson’s charges played at the AA level. In both those seasons, the NC girls advanced to the third round of the state playoffs, a feat they did not accomplish until a third round appearance in the 2011 class A state tournament snapped a string of five consecutive second round exits.North Central makes the move from Region 3-A, a circuit which it left after having won five straight conference titles, to Region 3-AA. Now, the Lady Knights will have to battle through the likes of Keenan, Eau Claire, Pelion, Columbia and Fairfield Central if they are going to add another notch to their championship belt.Johnson, for his part, said the only noticeable change this year will be getting used to driving the team bus to new locales in and around the Midlands.“The number one thing is travel,” he said with a laugh when talking about the changes for his team this season. “We’ll be traveling a little bit farther for each of our region matches and, that is a challenge as far as traffic when you go to the Columbia area.“Another thing is not knowing who we’re playing in our region.

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