Seniors shine in win over
Northwestern’s district playoff hopes were still somewhat alive when the Lady Tigers took the court against Catasauqua earlier this week. But the number of games this squad has together, particularly the tight-knit group of five seniors, is dwindling down.
Tuesday was the perfect memento for that group of seniors and the special season it has had thus far.
On Northwestern’s senior night, the Lady Tigers swept Catasauqua 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-17) to keep postseason aspirations still alive. Northwestern ended its regular season on Wednesday against Jim Thorpe. Results were not available at Press deadlines.
“They always impress me,” Northwestern head coach Lexi Ashburne said. “They work really hard at a everything they do, and they play with their heart. What impresses me most is that tonight they were really swinging. We were adjusting on our hits, which is something that we’ve been working on throughout the season.”
“[The seniors] are the team. They determine the energy on the court. They support each other. It’s an unbelievable group of girls as far as dedicated, hard working and loving the sport. There is nothing else I could ask for from them.”
The five seniors recognized were Leila Toth, Adriana Walp. Emily Corke, Sarah Sekerak and Katelyn Smith.
Corke (24 digs, 15 serves) had a huge impact in the Lady Tigers’ first set rout. With an early 3-3 tied, Northwestern scored the next 13 points on Corke’s serve to take a commanding lead. Defensive specialist Jovina Fager’s spike brought the Tigers’ lead to 16-3.
Shortly later, Sekerak (6 digs, 2 kills) had a block at the net to increase Northwestern’s advantage to 22-9, and Shante Duminie’s kill moments later ended the set.
“We played way better this game,” Smith said. “We definitely had more of a high-intensity pace, especially compared to the first time against them. We hit a lot and swung a lot, which is very good for us, because that’s how we get things done.”
“I think that we played better this game, absolutely, against Catty than the first time we saw them,” Ashburne said.
Getting out to a fast start is a key to Northwestern’s success, according to Smith. So after that dominating win to open the match, many might have foreseen the same in the following two games. And they would have been right.
Northwestern broke free from a 9-7 lead to go in front 19-11 on another Jovina kill. Grace Shuhay then recorded an ace to make it 24-13, and her next serve could not be returned by Catty.
The Lady Tigers fell behind 1-0 in the third and final set, but proceeded to score the next seven points. That run was capped by a left-handed spike from Sekerak. That lead grew to 22-15 moments later on an ace from Smith (6 digs, 7 kills).
“I think for us to do our best, we have to start right away,” Smith said. “We can’t start slow, because when we start slow we get in our heads and it gets bad. When we play good from the beginning, and play hard and play fast, that is when we have the best outcome.”