After a treacherous five-game losing streak ended Panther Creek volleyball’s 2014 campaign, the Catamounts have won four straight conference matches to open 2015.
On Tuesday night, Panther Creek defeated Athens Drive 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-16, 25-19).
It took time for the Catamounts to earn their first lead of the night. A strong kill from Jessica Petty broke a 22-22 tie towards the end of the first set, sparking a three-point run that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Athens Drive raced out to a quick lead to open the second set, building a margin that proved too wide for Panther Creek to close. Elisabeth Williams’ offensive performance (11 kills) led the way for the Jaguars.
Panther Creek (5-2, 4-0) regained their composure in the ensuing sets as the duo of Wake Forest recruit Caitlyn Della and Emily Maggio quelled any momentum Athens Drive (2-4, 1-3) had built up.
“We knew it was going to be good, we knew Panther Creek was going to be a tight one,” Athens Drive coach Emily Smith said. “They were definitely able to figure out our faults, but it showed us what we need to work on which is all you can ask for in a close game.”
They said it
“This year we have leadership, we’re playing as a team, trusting each other and trusting the system that we’re running,” Panther Creek coach Holly Fong said. “It wasn’t pretty, though, but I’ll take the win.”
After slow starts plagued the Catamounts in their first two games, Della took over, recording seven kills and three blocks en route to a dominating 25-16 victory in game three.
Three who mattered
Caitlyn Della, Panther Creek: Della was a force to reckon with all night, finishing with 15 kills and four blocks.
Emily Maggio, Panther Creek: Despite standing at only 5 feet, 8 inches, Maggio’s athleticism allowed her to earn the majority of her 11 kills on spikes near the net.
“Our middles did a great job of drawing the blocks away,” Maggio said. “That was really helpful because I’m shorter.”
Allison Lake, Athens Drive: Lake served as a defensive anchor for the Jaguars, recording three blocks and knocking away many more of the Catamounts’ spike attempts. She also tacked nine kills onto the stat sheet.
By the numbers
14-7: The margin Panther Creek had over Athens Drive in blocks. Kayla Spells was a key contributor, amassing five blocks individually for the Catamounts.
“We’ve got a big force at the net,” Fong said.
59.1%: The percentage of Panther Creek’s kills that came from either Della or Maggio.
1-for-1: Panther Creek junior Irina Sokira made the game’s final kill on her first touch of the game.