GREENSBORO — Northwest Guilford's volleyball season has come to an end in the state semifinals.
No. 8 seed Charlotte Ardrey Kell defeated the second-seeded Vikings 3-1 in a 4-A state semifinal volleyball match tonight at Nelson Gymnasium. Ardrey Kell will advance to Saturday’s state championship game in Fayetteville.
The Knights (25-5) beat the Vikings 25-23 and 25-18 in the first two sets, but Northwest rallied to win the third 25-19 before Ardrey Kell took the match’s fourth and final set 25-20.
“Offense has never been a problem for us, but defense has been the key, and so was serve pass,” said Ardrey Kell coach Zoe Bell. “Also, not to get down on ourselves, when we are down. In the third game, we didn’t serve pass very well, and (Northwest) took advantage of that.”
After appearing deflated during the match’s first two games, Northwest took an early lead in the match’s third game and was able to stave off several Knights rallies to avoid a sweep.
Ardrey Kell regrouped to win Game 4 of the match, at one point, rolling off eight straight points, to take a commanding 23-14 lead.
“I talked to them about taking it one ball at a time, and I think they believed that,” Northwest coach Nancy Everett said. “We just couldn’t put it together."
The loss ends the Vikings’ season at 26-3 and was Northwest’s first at home.
“I told them serve pass was the key,” Bell said. “I told them that was going to be the difference.”
The semifinal win also marked the second time this season that Ardrey Kell defeated Northwest, having defeated the Vikings 3-1 in Charlotte on Sept. 7.
“They probably put together a more complete game than in the previous match,” Everett said. “They kept us off balance all night.”
The Vikings have reached the state semifinals three times. The 2015 team lost in the state championship game.
“Once the hurt goes away, they will realize that they were part of something special,” Everett said.
A group of four seniors has been key for Northwest, but several underclassmen had excellent performances on Tuesday, which bodes well for the program’s future.
“This group of seniors came in with me when I took over for (former coach) Darlene (Joyner),” Everett said. “They will be missed, but some of our underclassmen stepped up tonight. We know we have a target on our backs in this area.”
Everett reflected on Tuesday’s match: “I felt like if we could have passed a little better, we could have put them on their heels, and won those games. We didn’t play our best, but that attributed to how they played.”