2016 Sports Story of the Year: Ea­gles reach re­gion fi­nal

Dis­patch CR in four, make deep­est play­off run by ND girls’ pro­gram since 2001

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­dem.com

SHILOH — In March 2001, the North Dorch­ester High girls’ bas­ket­ball team won the Class 1A East Re­gion ti­tle.

It’s been 15 years since a girls’ team in any sport at that school has made it that far.

On Wed­nes­day, Nov. 9, at the Ea­gles’ Nest, the vol­ley­ball team — which didn’t ex­ist at the school un­til two years ago, and sev­eral of whose play­ers weren’t even born in 2001 — made it back to a re­gional cham­pi­onship with a four-set vic­tory over Colonel Richard­son.

SHILOH — In March 2001, the North Dorch­ester High girls’ bas­ket­ball team won the Class 1A East Re­gion ti­tle.

It’s been 15 years since a girls’ team in any sport at that school has made it that far.

On Wed­nes­day, Nov. 9, at the Ea­gles’ Nest, the vol­ley­ball team — which didn’t ex­ist at the school un­til two years ago, and sev­eral of whose play­ers weren’t even born in 2001 — made it back to a re­gional cham­pi­onship.

The Ea­gles de­feated No. 2 Colonel Richard­son in four games to win the Sec­tion II cham­pi­onship, 25-16, 24-26, 25-21, 25-20. The Ea­gles won all three con­tests against the Colonels in 2016, beat­ing them in reg­u­lar-sea­son matchups on Sept. 6 and Oct. 5.

North Dorch­ester earned a berth in the re­gional ti­tle tilt against Sec­tion I win­ner and five­time de­fend­ing re­gional titleist Per­ryville and fell 3-0. The Ea­gles fin­ished their his­toric sea­son with an 11-7 record.

“It’s been great for the girls,” Ea­gles coach Carol Hub­bard said. “For us to come out, brand­new pro­gram, a cou­ple of years ago, and to build up to this, it just makes me re­ally proud of them.”

Colonel (6-11), a pro­gram that has been in con­tention for the North Bay­side and a deep-play­off threat for most of the last decade and more, came out look­ing like the top seed in the first set, though. Burst­ing ahead to an 11-4 lead, the guests had the Ea­gles on their heels be­fore Hub­bard called a time­out.

“I just told them to fo­cus on what got them here,” Hub­bard said. “We had said we were play­ing all year to make the play­offs as a high seed, and now we’re in the play­offs, and play­ing to make a run, and they did that. They got go­ing.”

A 4-0 spurt made it a game again at 11-8, and then the home team got even hot­ter, al­low­ing five points in the rest of the first set and roar­ing past the Colonels to win it, 25-16.

“I think we were like 21-5 af­ter that first lit­tle bit,” Hub­bard said. “They re­ally played to­gether.”

Colonel had the last rally in the sec­ond, though. Pulling ahead 1110, but then fall­ing be­hind 22-16, and then 24-18, the Colonels put to­gether a last-ditch rally to carry the set.

Weath­er­ing six con­sec­u­tive set points, at 24-18 through 24-23, Colonel, un­der the serve of Rachel Jessee, just kept go­ing, ty­ing the set at 24-24 and then win­ning two more points to take it by a 26-24 mar­gin.

“I don’t think it was me telling them any­thing int he [sec­ond set],” Colonel head coach Jor­dan Gless­ner said. “They just re­al­ized that they could play with them, and they knew what they were ca­pa­ble of, and went out and did it.

“It’s tough to see the sea­son end,” Gless­ner con­tin­ued, adding that she’d lose four play­ers to grad­u­a­tion. “But the girls fought.”

North Dorch­ester pulled ahead big in the third set as well, 23-14, and once more Colonel had an an­swer. A 6-0 run pulled the guests to within 23-20 be­fore the Ea­gles stopped the mo­men­tum, tak­ing two of the next three points for a 25-21 win.

In the fourth set, it was neckand-neck un­til the Ea­gles held a 17-16 lead; a last 9-4 scor­ing surge locked down the game, three com­ing on aces by Sa­vanna Nos­sick, who tal­lied a game-best 11.

Mya­sia Jones’s nine kills for the Ea­gles was a game high; team­mate Brooke Hard­ing had five aces and four kills.

The Ea­gles earned the pro­gram’s first-ever play­off vic­tory on Mon­day, Nov. 7, by beat­ing 2015 1A East Re­gion fi­nal­ist Po­comoke in four sets, 25-20, 25-10, 25-27, 25-16.

“It feels great to get that first vol­ley­ball play­off win for the school, and this pro­gram,” Hub­bard said af­ter the Po­comoke win. “This is only our third sea­son, and we have im­proved tremen­dously each year.

Jones led the Ea­gles with 10 kills, and nine of her team­mates added at least one kill each. Turner recorded a team-high seven aces with As­plen adding five aces and Usil­ton notch­ing four.

The Ea­gles trailed 5-1 in the first set, but As­plen fired four straight aces to give North Dorch­ester a 6-5 lead. The Ea­gles and War­riors traded points up to the Ea­gles lead­ing 14-13. North Dorch­ester then went on a 5-1 run for a 19-14 bulge, with Jones record­ing two kills and Usil­ton adding two aces.

Po­comoke closed to 22-20, but the Ea­gles net­ted the fi­nal three points, in­clud­ing kills from Turner and Jones to win the first set.

North Dorch­ester dom­i­nated the sec­ond set, jump­ing to a 13-6 lead. The Ea­gles then scored 13 of the fi­nal 17 points to go ahead 2-0 in the match.

Hub­bard cred­ited As­plen, Jones and Turner for con­trol­ling the tempo in the Ea­gles’ fa­vor.

“For be­ing prob­a­bly the short­est per­son on the court, Leann has played huge, es­pe­cially at the net,” Hub­bard said. “I think a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly look at her and take her for granted, but she gets up there against those big girls.

“She has beau­ti­ful sets, and is smart about where she places the ball,” Hub­bard added. “Her and Mya­sia worked so well to­gether tonight. Leann made many sets for Mya­sia, and Mya­sia de­liv­ered for big kills.

“Leann and Ge­orgie did a great job of con­trol­ling the pace of the game,” Hub­bard con­tin­ued. “Ge­orgie is just a good, all-around player. We have used her as a set­ter ev­ery year. She does fab­u­lous on the back row.”

In the third set, Po­comoke went up 17-11, but the Ea­gles chipped away at the deficit. Three kills by Jones from As­plen, and an ace by Tali­cia El­liott gave north Dorch­ester an 18-17 lead.

The War­riors fought back and went up 22-20. The Ea­gles tied the score at 22-22 with a kill by Turner and an ace by Jones. Fac­ing elim­i­na­tion, Po­comoke tied the score at 25-25 on match point, then added two more points to take the third set, 27-25.

The Ea­gles did not let the lost set bring them down, and they took con­trol early in the fourth.

Lead­ing 10-8, the Ea­gles went on a 15-8 run to close out the match. Dur­ing the flour­ish, Lind­sey Bradley, Kathryn Allen added a kill a piece, and Usil­ton and Brooke Hard­ing scored two aces each.

“The big­gest dif­fer­ence this year has been the girls’ at­ti­tudes,” Hub­bard said. “They do not give up, no mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion, on a sin­gle match, on a sin­gle game or on a sin­gle point.

“I’m re­ally lucky to have a team of girls that are just good ath­letes that are not nec­es­sary a one-po­si­tion player,” Hub­bard added. “I have a lot of girls that can play all around the court. That gives me flex­i­bil­ity.”

North Dorch­ester’s Ge­orgie Turner sets the ball for a team­mate against Colonel Richard­son dur­ing the Ea­gles’ Nov. 9 play­off vic­tory.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Dorch­ester’s Leann As­plen spikes the ball for a point against Colonel Richard­son dur­ing the Ea­gles’ Nov. 9 play­off vic­tory.

North Dorch­ester’s Leann As­plen spikes the ball for a point against Colonel Richard­son dur­ing the Ea­gles’ Nov. 9 play­off vic­tory.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

The North Dorch­ester High School vol­ley­ball team reached the Class 1A East Re­gion ti­tle game with a 3-1 vic­tory over Colonel Richard­son on Nov. 9.

North Dorch­ester’s Sa­vanna Nos­sick sets the ball for a team­mate against Snow Hill Thurs­day, Nov. 6.

North Dorch­ester’s Mya­sia Jones spikes the ball for a point against Colonel Richard­son dur­ing the Ea­gles’ Nov. 9 play­off vic­tory.

North Dorch­ester’s Brooke Hard­ing serves against Colonel Richard­son dur­ing the Ea­gles’ Nov. 9 play­off vic­tory. Hard­ing scored the win­ning point to end the match.

North Dorch­ester’s Kathryn Allen blocks a shot and scores a point against Snow Hill Thurs­day, Nov. 6.

North Dorch­ester’s Ge­orgie Turner lifts the ball over the net for a point in a 3-0 vic­tory over Snow Hill Thurs­day, Oct. 6.

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