Saturday afternoon was a significant day in the history of the Northwest volleyball program.
Although the Rangers fell to Pearl River in a gritty, five-set battle, Northwest brought out the same energy against Coastal Alabama-East and came away with the program’s first victory, a thrilling 3-2 decision.
“After a disappointing five-set loss to Pearl River, I was proud of how the girls bounced back and won another grueling five-set match against Coastal Alabama-East,” Northwest coach Allison Burchyett said. “Getting our first program win, on our first weekend, is an amazing accomplishment to this hard working bunch.”
Kapria Manning finished with a combined 14 kills on the day, along with seven blocks and two aces in the win against Coastal Alabama-East.
With the split, Northwest now stands at 1-1 on the young season. The Rangers will have little time to savor the moment however, as Burchyett’s team will hit the road once again on Monday, January 25 for a matchup at Gadsden State. That showdown is slated for a 5 p.m. start time in Gadsden, Ala.
Pearl River 3, Northwest 2 (Set scores: 25-21, 27-25, 20-25, 17-25, 8-15)
Northwest came out with the hot hand to start the day and claimed the first two sets at Pearl River. With the Wildcats on the ropes however, Pearl River responded by taking the final three sets to earn the win on its home court.
Pearl River trailed 4-1 in the early stages of the opening set, but soon flipped the script and stormed back for a 12-11 lead. The Rangers refused to yield though and with the help of four straight points and a kill from Sydney Sides, Northwest reclaimed a 17-15 advantage.
Pearl River rallied back to tie the set at 21-21, only to see Northwest gain four straight points for the 25-21 first set victory.
Both teams went back and forth over the early stages of the second set but Northwest led for a majority of the second set, fighting off several ties from the Wildcats.
Although the Wildcats caught a surge late and put the Rangers on the rope with a 24-21 deficit, Northwest responded appropriately by rallying back for the 27-25 second set victory.
Despite putting Pearl River on the brink of losing its home-opener, Northwest was unable to eliminate the Wildcats in the third set. The Rangers rallied from a 21-14 deficit to make things interesting, but the Wildcats held on to claim the third set victory.
After dropping the fourth set 25-17, Northwest was unable to take back the momentum from Pearl River in the winner-take-all fifth set, as the Wildcats pulled away from a slim 10-8 lead to take the clinching 15-8 decision.
Sides finished with eight kills in the match, while Julissa Soto finished with six digs and two aces. Chariah Mabry also finished with three blocks.
Northwest 3, Coastal Alabama-East 2 (Set scores: 25-20, 20-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11)
Trailing two sets to one entering the fourth set, Northwest refused to come away empty-handed from Poplarville, rallying back to force another winner-take-all fifth set.
Both teams went back and forth in the early goings of the fifth set, trading points on nearly every possession. Coastal Alabama-East led four times until Northwest earned two straight points and a slim 6-5 advantage.
Northwest led 8-7 before the Warhawks claimed back-to-back points for a 9-8 lead. The Rangers qucikly responded with two straight points of their own, prompting a timeout and a 10-9 advantage.
From there, Northwest claimed five of the last seven points and clinched the match on an error from the Warhawks, resulting in the milestone win for the Rangers.
Soto led the Rangers with 12 kills and Alexia Davis came away with 31 assists. Kamryn Conner also finished with seven digs.
NWCC Rangers news release