Seniors key Panthers to win over Lincoln High
The Panthers’ offense wasn’t exactly “purring” but did more than enough to defeat 11-18 Lincoln High in three sets Tuesday, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18.
“It was a struggle; we tend to play just at the level of the team we’re playing,” Norfolk coach Katie Wright-Oswald said. “So it was a battle. They fought through, but it wasn’t our best performance.”
With the win the Panthers improve to 15-14 on the season.
Keyed by the contributions of seniors, including Saydee Mittelstaedt along with Alex and Gabby Ruth, Norfolk secured control of each set as the score entered double-figures. The Panthers pulled away from a two-point lead of 13-11 in the first set, sparked by three kills by Gabby Ruth, to a 10-point advantage at 24-14.
But Links reduced the margin with the help of three-straight ace serves by freshman Harper Case until a block by Alex Ruth finished the 25-18 Norfolk win.
A kill from each of the Ruth sisters and an ace serve by Mittelstaedt in the second set helped the Panthers turned a tenuous 11-9 lead into a seven-point margin. Then, after a kill and ace from Gabby Ruth that built the lead into a 21-14 advantage, Alex Ruth closed out the 25-19 victory with a kill.
Norfolk was aggressive in its 25-18 third-set win, as three kills a piece from Gabby and Alex Ruth, along with two kills and three ace serves from Mittelstaedt, paced the Panthers to a 13-8 lead.
Two more Gabby Ruth kills and a block provided an 18-10 advantage and, following a brief comeback effort by Lincoln High, two Alex Ruth kills helped finish the 25-18 win.
“It was senior night, so obviously we wanted to showcase how far our seniors have come since their freshmen year, and give them the opportunity to perform out on the floor,” Wright-Oswald said. “We’re very fortunate with the group that we have — Alex and Gabby, Saydee and Desiree Morales — their very high character caliber really speaks a lot about them.”
The contributions of underclassmen were significant as well, which Wright-Oswald said is a by-product of the seniors’ influence.
Ali Sovereign accumulated four blocks and four kills, Jalen Hoffman added six kills, and Anden Baumann totaled 33 set assists and three kills.
“Our motto is ‘stronger together,’ and that comes from our seniors,” she said. “The demand excellence on the floor from each other and also from their peers. For example, the Ruth girls have been on varsity since before I got here, so they know what it was like and what it can be, so they continue to build upon that.”
Gabby Ruth finished the night with 16 total kills to lead Norfolk offensively.
“Gabby played especially well tonight; she’s one of those players who will put the team on her back,” Wright-Oswald said.
Norfolk defeats Lincoln High
25-18, 25-19, 25-18