Tara claims 3-0 win over Northeast _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- Tara's Ke'Erra Johnson sets the ball against Northeast on Wednesday at Tara.

Tara defeated Northeast 3-0 in volleyball action Wednesday at Tara in a match with interesting coaching story lines.

Cynthia Montgomery is the new coach at Northeast and spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach to Tara’s Barry Jackson. Montgomery, who has 287 career wins after 19 seasons at Istrouma, is still seeking her first win at Northeast. The Vikings are 0-3.

Montgomery was in the last class at Chaneyville High in 1981. The school changed its name to Northeast in 1982.

“I like being back at home at Northeast, and we’re going to get there as a volleyball team,” Montgomery said. “We’ve had to change the culture here. We’re capable of competing; it will just take time.”

“Cynthia does a great job wherever she goes,” Jackson said. “I know she’s going to turn that program around.”

Tara (2-2) got its second victory over Northeast. Tara prevailed in five sets in the first meeting and won 23-25, 25-19, 25-20 and 25-17 Wednesday.

“I thought we played well once we settled down,” Jackson said. “We gave some points away in the first set. We passed the ball a lot better and were more consistent in the last three sets.”

Northeast 6-foot-1 senior Pearl Jones was a factor at the net and when serving. Jones had 12 kills, 10 aces and three blocks.

Tara adjusted its play in the final three sets and worked the ball inside to 5-11 senior Mardaijah Varnado, who had nine kills, four blocks, six aces and 15 digs. Ke’Erra Johnson, a 5-6 senior, and Samantha Herrera, a 4-9 junior, were also spark plugs.

Johnson had seven kills, five assists, three aces and eight digs. Promise Kelly added three kills, four aces and 23 digs for Tara.

“Ke’Erra is our captain and does a good job,” Jackson said. “She’s good at making tips to open areas of the floor. Samantha Herrera plays non-stop and is a really good communicator.”

Tara sophomore Arrielle Clark had an ace for the decisive point in the second set. The third set was tied at 16 when Tara’s Johnson had a tip point and then got hot with her serve as Tara pulled ahead 21-16.

Northeast went on a 5-0 run in the fourth set with Jones serving to cut the Tara lead to 10-8. Tara pulled ahead 16-9 to take control.

“We have a bunch of hard workers here at Tara,” Jackson said. “One of our strengths is our athleticism. We have areas we need to work on. I think we’ll continue to improve.”

Lauryn Jackson added 13 assists and an ace for the Vikings.

Montgomery said her team needs to improve its ball control and passing. She has started a middle school volleyball program at Northeast for the first time and that should help in future years.

“We’ve got to learn how to get on the court and play up to our potential,” Montgomery said.