Shae Suttles served up eight aces, including the final four points of the match in a 12-0 run as North Johnston completed a 3-1 victory over Smithfield-Selma Friday afternoon.
The match was suspended two days earlier when a storm-related power outage at the school caused the Smithfield-Selma gymnasium to go dark as North led two sets-to-one and trailed 10-8 in the fourth set.
Suttles, who served nine aces in the set and had 16 service points in the match, took the serve with the Panthers trailing 17-14 following a bad hit by the Spartans to give North the possession it would not relinquish.
Suttles mixed four aces among eight service points, then recorded her final four. The Spartans, shaken by the loss of senior Cassie Creech, had no answer in dropping the fourth set in the 25-18, 20-25, 25-18, 25-17 outcome.
Never miss a local story.
Creech, who injured the MCL in her left knee a year ago, collapsed to the court in a heap following a cross-court kill by the Panthers’ Morgan Townsend that trimmed the SSS lead to 15-12.
The Spartans surrendered a point on Jada Santiago's serve, but regrouped temporarily on a kill by Morgan Eatmon and a hitting error by the Panthers to build the lead back to four at 17-13.
But that temporary momentum dissipated on a hitting error by the Spartans, slicing the lead to 17-14, and giving the ball and serve to Suttles.
"Anytime you have an interruption in the game," said Panthers coach Nicole Davis, "Whether it be a power outage or an injury, that can affect you big time. I thought our girls seemed to be very compassionate, of course."
Spartans coach Chase Crocker agreed the injury affected his team.
"Big time," he said. "Losing her senior leadership and thinking about her the entire time hurt us."
Crocker said it appeared the injury occurred when Creech landed on a teammate's foot, similar to the injury last year.
"Last year she sprained her MCL," Crocker said. "But she recovered quickly and didn't miss too many games. Hopefully, she can recover quickly again."