Northshore and Slidell were virtually guaranteed of playoff berths, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s Division I, District 5 match.
But Slidell certainly didn’t hurt its chances for a better playoff seeding after notching a 14-25, 10-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-8 win at the Slidell gym.
Northshore, ranked sixth in the New Orleans Advocate’s Large School listing, dropped to 21-17, 7-5. Slidell, which has been in and out of the same rankings for most of the season, improved to 21-17, 8-4.
Mandeville already had clinched the district championship.
“We went down to the wire,” said junior Jasyln Bright, who had the match-winning kill for Slidell. “It was like we had to pay it forward. Someone would say something good about me and I would say something good about them and then that helped us.”
Senior Kacie Livingston said after falling behind by two sets, it was time for the Tigers to do some soul-searching about where they wanted their season to go.
“Coach (Michelle Anderson) told us, ‘Ya’ll can play, ya’ll can beat them,’ ” Livingston said. “We knew this was it.”
Fellow senior Erica Bennett agreed.
“We knew we were better than we were playing,” Bennett said. “We went to the huddle and sat down, cooled off, and things clicked.”
The expected close match between Slidell and Northshore met all expectations.
Northshore jumped to a big lead in the first game, with sophomore Amanda Giardina powering a kill to the Slidell backline to make the score 12-3. A block and a Slidell error increased the lead to 14-3 and the first set turned into a rout.
The Tigers closed the gap some, but Northshore eventually clinched the set on a kill by freshman Tyler David and a dink by sophomore Carly Merry.
The second set was more closely contested at the onset, but Northshore began to pull ahead midway through. Merry pounded a cross-court kill to make the score 14-9 and a long kill attempt by Slidell, coupled with a couple net errors, pushed the lead to 18-9.
The Panthers’ rally seemed to break any Slidell momentum, and Northshore cruised to the second-set win on a service winner by Giardina.
The Tigers did claw to a 6-1 lead in the third set, but Northshore answered with a kill by Giardina down the right sideline to tie the score at 7. After jockeying for the lead throughout much of the set, Slidell finally took control after a block attempt went out of bounds, and when a four hits violation was called on the Panthers after extra points.
That gave Slidell the impetus it needed. The Tigers won the fourth set on a net serve by Northshore to force the match into the fifth.
“I think for us it’s about making adjustments,” Anderson said. “When things start going the wrong way, we seem to beat the dead horse to death. … I keep telling them to adjust. Don’t keep doing the same old thing.’
“I think for us it’s about making adjustments,” Anderson said. “When things start going the wrong way, we seem to beat the dead horse to death. … I keep telling them to adjust. Don’t keep doing the same old thing.”
But she added, “Tonight, we were able to adjust.”