GASTON — Whether it was getting off to a good start in game one or holding off their opponents in the final and deciding match, the Northampton County Jaguars demeanor never changed, and neither did head coach Elaina Sabatine on the bench.
That calm and coolness led to a three-game sweep (25-18, 25-14, 25-19) over KIPP in Tar Roanoke Athletic Conference action Tuesday.
The Jaguars had some bumps along the way, but at the end of the night, showed the team continues to grow on the court.
“I am so impressed with the improvement that we have made this season,” Sabatine said. “We went from passing the ball back and forth once, to almost every play now we are pass, set, hit, and we are getting a lot of kills. We are getting to showcase our hitting.”
In the first game against the Panthers, the Jaguars got to showcase their servers. Bianca Anderson got things started for the visitors, helping Northampton jump out to a 12-3 lead. KIPP battled back, going on a 11-3 run to pull within one. Bridget Lucas was able to stop the bleeding for the Jaguars and closed out the game at the line.
The second set was all Northampton County, but the Panthers proved they would not go easy.
KIPP led the majority of the way and the Jaguars had to fight and claw their way back in the game to prove they were the top cats. A kill by Shakira Anderson pulled Northampton to within two points, 16-14, and Sharonda Lassiter tied the game at 17 with a service point.
Lassiter gave the Jaguars their first and final lead with two more points from the line, and Lucas ended the game with four consecutive service points for the win.
“We are playing the game of volleyball,” Sabatine said.
The last set was the most challenging, but even when KIPP gained the big league, the squad channelled the coolness of its coach on the sidelines.
“I have confidence in the girls,” the first-year coach said. “It was one of the reasons why I let them stay out there. I know I did not need to take a time out because they know what they need to do and they know how to pull themselves together. Even when a couple of points slide by, they know what to do.”
In the first set, it was Anderson getting it done at the line or Shaquoria Miles at the net. In the third set it was Lucas who wrapped things up at the line. Sabatine credits the success to the girls becoming more comfortable with each other with each game.
“I think so, and it is just confidence from going up against some good teams,” she said.
“They have taken wins away from good teams or have come close to it. They know they have it, they just need to find it sometimes.”
Northampton returns to the volleyball court at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Southeast Halifax. KIPP plays at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Gates County.
Note: The Jaguars jayvee defeated KIPP 2-1 (25-13, 25-27, 25-17) in the opener.