NORTH VERNON — After cruising past its first two opponents, Columbus North ran into a little trouble early in both sets during its final volleyball match against Jennings County in Saturday’s Jennings Invitational.
The Panthers led 7-4 in the first set and 6-3 in the second. But the Bull Dogs rallied in both for a 25-21, 25-18 victory to finish 3-0 for the day and capture the invitational title.
“Jennings County always comes out against us playing their hardest, and I think we did a good job of staying mentally tough and not giving up when we got down,” acting North coach Andrea Behling said.
Behling was filling in for head coach Caitlin Greiner, who is pregnant and nearing her due date.
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The Bull Dogs (9-3) began the morning with a 25-21, 25-17 win against Scottsburg. North then downed Ben Davis 25-10, 25-10.
“I thought they came out pretty aggressively,” Behling said. “We did a good job of keeping our pace on our side, and that was our goal for today. I’m pretty impressed with what they did.”
In the final match of the round-robin event, the Panthers (2-15) led 11-10 in the first set. They were within 19-18 before the Bull Dogs pulled away.
Trailing 6-3 in the second set, North went on a 12-2 run behind the serving of Maddy Sebahar and Emma Tynan to take a 15-8 lead. Jennings came back to within 19-16 before the Bull Dogs put it away.
“We played some really scrappy teams, and with that, you have to be ready for anything that they throw over the net,” said Agustina Fainguersch, who led North with a combined 18 kills in the three matches. “So I think we did a really nice job of just focusing on our side and hustling after balls and playing our game that we know how to play.”
Lily Meyercord led the Bull Dogs with 34 assists and five aces. Lauryn James had four blocks, and Maddy Sebahar recorded 26 digs.
Gabby Genth pounded 11 kills, while James, Tynan and Katie McAninch all added 10. Sebahar and Sophie Mckinney each tallied four assists. Meyercord collected eight kills, three blocks and 10 digs; Fainguersch added 12 digs and two aces; Tynan and Carley Finke each posted 11 digs, Tynan and Sebahar each served four aces and Sophie McKinney had two aces.
“I think we communicated a lot better this weekend than we did last week and last weekend,” Sebahar said. “We have a big week coming up, so we need to focus, and we need to use this momentum this week.”
The Panthers, meanwhile, opened with a 25-12, 25-14 win against Ben Davis. Jennings then missed several serves in a 25-21, 25-21 loss to Scottsburg.
That set up the final-round match between the Panthers and Bull Dogs.
“We were more intense today than I’ve seen us as a whole group,” Jennings coach Blakli Nading said. “I’m proud of so many things that my girls are doing, but I told them today, ‘Losing is easy.’ So we just have to be harder hustlers and want it worse than anybody in order to get the win. We’re right there with every game, and that’s what’s so frustrating as a coach because I want it for them.”