NEW BOSTON — One of the most popular sports clichés is “it’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
On Tuesday evening at Glenwood High School in New Boston, the old adage proved true in a volleyball match between the New Boston Tigers and the Northwest Mohawks.
The Tigers looked dominant in their first set against the Mohawks. New Boston jumped out in front with an 11-5 lead early on. Head coach Kendra Holbrook’s Tigers continued to look imposing, winning in decisive fashion by a total of 25-6.
“We jumped out on them and it boosted our confidence,” Holbrook said about her team’s start. “You can see the girls laughing and playing together and they’re more positive.”
New Boston appeared to be in control, but Northwest knew there was a lot of match left to play. The Mohawks kept their heads up and continued to fight, and were able to come back strong in the second set of the match.
Northwest was the team who looked impressive to start the second set. The Mohawks took a 17-9 lead, which was too much for the Tigers to overcome, and ultimately took a 25-14 victory in the set to even up the match.
In the third set, New Boston was once again able to jump out and attack to start things off. The Tigers pushed ahead to a 12-5 lead, but Northwest bounced back. Late in the set, the scoreboard read 18-13 in favor of New Boston.
The Mohawks climbed back again in the third set, but came up short. New Boston took the third set 25-17, and were looking to put the match away in four sets.
However, Northwest wasn’t giving up without a fight. Once again, though, the Tigers clawed their way out to a commanding lead early. New Boston took a 4-0 lead which eventually became a 9-2 lead.
As the set went on, the Tigers continued to pounce on their opportunity. New Boston got all the way up to a 17-7 lead, and things looked good for the Tigers late in the set.
But, as they say, it’s all about how you finish.
Northwest put their figurative rally caps on and kept challenging New Boston. The score soon became 19-14, still in favor of New Boston, but Holbrook saw the advantage dwindling and took a timeout.
The Mohawks played a gritty match, refusing to give in and accept defeat. “Northwest was absolutely hustling,” Holbrook said. “So that also played a role in them being able to jump out on us sometimes and come back.”
After the timeout, Northwest was able to inch even closer, battling back and forth to try and take the fourth set and keep the match going. New Boston held a slim 20-17 lead, but Northwest kept up the comeback effort and tied things up at 23. From there, the Mohawks took the final two points to win the set 25-23.
With the come from behind victory in the fourth set, the match came down to a decisive final set. New Boston once again jumped in front, taking a 10-3 lead. Northwest was unable to come from behind this time, and ended up losing by a score of 15-9.
Despite the end result, first year Northwest head coach Taylor Cantrell was happy with what she saw from her team. “I think they worked hard,” Cantrell said. “They showed a lot of effort, and I’m pretty proud of them.”
Addi Newman had a big game for the Mohawks with five kills, 17 digs, and 11 assists. She personified the toughness of Northwest’s team with her performance, being incredibly active defensively as well as offensively for the Mohawks.
For New Boston, they were able to get a big performance from their seniors. Ali Hamilton had 11 kills seven blocks, and nine digs. Kaylee stone also added 11 kills and recorded six digs. Mariah Buckley was the facilitator of the offense with 25 assists and three aces.
The Tigers are a team that have garnered a lot of attention this season. “The expectations for my team were very high this year,” Holbrook said. “Not just coming from me, or their school, or their community, [but] outsiders looking in. They have big expectations for my team this year, and we’re trying to live up to those expectations.”
New Boston will travel to Wellston on Monday, Aug. 28 for a match with the Rockets. Northwest will take on Clay at home on Thursday
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT