The Northwestern Trojans turned in a solid team performance to defeat Rock Hill 3-0 in a Region 3-4A match at the Bearcats’ gym Wednesday night.
The Trojans got off to a strong startwith a 25-15 victory in the first set. Northwestern scored the first six points and never trailed. Annmarie Johnston’s block capped the 6-0 run.
Rock Hill cut it to 8-4, but the Trojans used an 8-4 run to take a 16-8 lead. Julia Panas’ kill capped the rally for Northwestern.
Panas led the Trojans in the opening set, recording six of her 14 kills.
Northwestern won the second set 25-23. Johnston’s block broke a 2-2 tie and the Trojans never trailed again. Panas and Nadia White each had a pair of kills along the way as Northwestern gradually built a 19-14 lead.
Erin Hottle and Adele Robinson kept the Bearcats in the second set. Hottle had a kill and a block, while Robinson recorded a pair of kills.
Trailing 19-14, Rock Hill rallied behind Robinson’s serve. The Bearcats scored eight straight points and took a 22-19 lead on Hottle’s kill.
Northwestern called timeout, regrouped and outscored the Bearcats 6-1 to complete the set. Panas and White each had a pair of kills in the final six points as the Trojans took a 2-0 lead.
Northwestern closed out the match with a 25-13 win in the third set. The Trojans broke a 4-4 tie with an eight-point run to take a 12-4 lead, and they never looked back.
Audra Lynn and Ana Trabold each had a pair of kills in the third set, while White had two kills and one block and Panas added a pair of kills.
Johnston led the Trojans in blocks with three. Kaitlyn Lollis was Northwestern’s leader in assists with 38, while Grace Walker topped the team in digs with 13.
“This was a complete team win,” said Northwestern head coach Megan Perry. “We are continuing to improve, and I feel like we are getting ready for the playoffs.”
When the Bearcats came back and took the lead late in the second set, Perry’s timeout was crucial.
“I told them that this was still our set,” said Perry. “I challenged them to step up mentally as well as physically, and that is what they did.”
Northwestern went through the first round of the regular season with a 3-3 record in the region. The second time around the Trojans are 5-0 with only region-leading Gaffney left to play Thursday night at home.
“We have improved as individuals, and we have gotten better as a team.” said Perry. “We just need to keep working hard. We have really played well on defense.”
The win improved Northwestern to 8-3 in the region, while the loss dropped Rock Hill to 6-5. Rock Hill travels to Nation Ford on Thursday for the Bearcats’ final regular season match.
Both Rock Hill and Northwestern will make the playoffs, which start next week, but the final seedings will not be determined until the games on Thursday night.