NORTH EAST — It was a night of bounce backs for North East in its 2A East Region I quarterfinal volleyball matchup with visiting North Harford Thursday.
After losing the first and third sets against the Hawks, the Indians rallied to win the second and fourth sets, and they erased a four-point deficit in the decisive fifth set to earn a 3-2 (24-26, 27-25, 13-25, 25-14, 15-11) victory to advance to the next round.
“It’s something we’ve worked on all year. I talked to them about resilience, not getting defeated even when we are down and the ability to dig out of holes,” North East head coach Hannah O’Brien said.
The teams split the first four sets to set up the deciding fifth frame, and it looked like the Indians would fall to North Harford as they fell into an 8-4 hole early in the frame.
North East battled back by forcing North Harford into making hitting errors, scoring four unanswered points en route to a 7-1 run to take an 11-9 lead. The Indians inched away from there to earn the 15-11 victory in the frame to take the match and advance to the next round.
“We were able to get our minds back together,” North East’s Elaina Owens said of the fifth-set rally. “We were able to realize that we were a team, and we could do this and reach our full potential. We did it.”
The first game of the match was indicative of the Indians’ penchant for rallying, and even though they fell 26-24 in the frame, they erased 23-16 deficit and forced North Harford to score the final two points to win.
North East scored the last three points of the second game to rally past North Harford, 27-25, to even the match at 1-1.
The Hawks won game three comfortably, 25-13, while the Indians evened the match for a second time with a 25-15 win in game four, setting up the race to 15.
One reason why North East showed a constant ability to bounce back from in-set deficits or lost sets was a combination of team chemistry and assertiveness on the court.
“We learned that we have to trust each other, and we’ve played with each other long enough to know who can get what ball,” Owens said. “We have to be aggressive on the court, and everyone has to want that ball.”
With the win, the Indians advanced to meet top-seeded Fallston in the Region I semifinals Monday afternoon.