The Northshore volleyball team has had a wild season.
The Panthers didn’t play their first home game until about a month ago because of ongoing renovations to the school gym. They also lost a good number of seniors from last year’s team to graduation, and there were some other players expected to help this season who are no longer on the roster.
So as the No. 9 seed in the Division I playoffs this season, it was important to Northshore that it start quickly on Thursday in a bidistrict playoff against 24th-seeded Byrd. The Panthers did just that, winning the match 25-10, 25-6, 25-12.
Northshore next will play at No. 8 seed East Ascension likely on Monday. The winner of that regional playoff will advance to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Volleyball Tournament at the Pontchartrain Center next week in Kenner.
The victory was a reversal of recent fortune for Northshore, which had lost its past three matches heading into the playoffs.
“I think we needed to get back into our groove and know what it’s like to win again,” sophomore Amanda Giardina said.
Fellow sophomore teammate Carly Merry agreed.
“We want to go as far in the playoffs as we can, and we came out with the right mindset today,” Merry said. “We forgot about losses and started fresh today.”
Northshore (21-18) clearly outmatched Byrd on Thursday. The match was tied 5-5 in the first set before the Panthers began to pull away. They eventually amassed a 22-10 lead and closed out the set on a pair of hitting violations by Byrd and a service winner by Amanda Caluda.
Northshore cruised in the second set, opening an 18-3 lead after a long stretch of serves by Annelise Vollenweider. The Panthers eventually closed the frame on a pair of service winners by Rachel Rodrigues.
Things weren’t much better for Byrd in the third set, with Northshore opening a 10-2 lead after a serve receive error and a Panthers kill. The home team continued to dominate until the end.
“I thought our kids came out with the right mindset and played very focused volleyball,” Northshore coach Danny Davis said. “We could have easily shut down after three consecutive losses to end the season. However, they came in focused in ready to play tonight.”
Giardina and Merry combined for 18 kills. Vollenweider had eight digs and Caluda added six, and Vollenweider had 22 assists.