When an undefeated volleyball team meets a team on a 13-match winning streak, it figures to be a hard-fought contest.
That’s exactly what happened Tuesday evening as undefeated John Curtis traveled to Northshore, which has been as hot as any team in the metro area recently.
After a 2½-hour slugfest that saw the teams see-saw for momentum throughout, Curtis maintained an unblemished record with a 25-21, 19-25, 16-15, 25-23, 17-15, nondistrict victory at the Panthers’ gym in Slidell.
Curtis, which competes in Division IV, moved to 13-0 with the win. Northshore, a Division I school, fell to 14-6.
There were many tenuous moments for Curtis, which hadn’t been accustomed to trailing at all this season. When Northshore took a 2-1 lead in sets going into the fourth set, the Patriots were struggling to find momentum. They found it in the fourth, and rallied from deficits of 10-6 and 13-11 in the fifth and final set.
Carsyn Wallow moved the Patriots ahead to 16-15 with a kill, and a two-hit violation closed the match.
“We just kept plugging away,” Patriots coach Dawn Curtis said.
“I kept telling them to be patient and take one point at a time.”
Northshore coach Danny Davis said his team had several chances to put away the Patriots, but didn’t take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves.
“We lost our focus,” Davis said. “Curtis did a great job of refocusing and doing the little things better than us.”
Curtis stormed out to a 10-4 lead in the opening set, but Northshore clawed its way back.
Wallow powered a left-handed kill to make the score 24-21 and Tatiana Bell had a tip to close the first set.
In the second, it was Northshore’s turn to open an early lead — with 8-2 and 20-12 leads over Curtis. Caitlin Epperson dumped a ball into the middle of the court to seal the set.
Northshore looked like it would hang on for victory in the match after winning the third set convincingly, and playing to an 11-11 tie in the fourth. But Curtis continued to peck away and took advantage of a service winner and an unforced Northshore error to even the match at two.
That set the stage for the Patriots’ rally in the fifth set.
Bell led the Patriots with 18 kills and 11 digs. Wallow had 12 kills. Kelsie Oestriecher had 23 digs, and Sarah Drake added 11.
Reaghan Fabacher had 26 assists, and Dani Hebert had 19 assists to set up the Curtis attack.
Hailey Kirkpatrick paced Northshore with 15 kills. Sabrina Buelle had 22 digs, and Carly Merry added six aces and three blocks. Hannah Epperson had 37 assists for the Panthers.