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The electricity in Columbus North’s gym went out twice Tuesday night, but the Perry Meridian volleyball team never had a power outage.
With 6-foot-2 senior Cassidy Baird and 6-foot junior Sarah Clem dominating at the net, the No. 11 Falcons showed why they are unbeaten (4-0) in Conference Indiana.
Perry Meridian (13-2 overall) swept the match 25-22, 25-13 and 25-22.
Baird was outstanding from beginning to end. She had 15 kills and four blocks, and she seemed to take over the game whenever the Bull Dogs (6-6, 1-2) tried to put together a rally.
“There is a reason she is going to be a Division I college player,” North coach Caitlin Greiner said of Baird. “They look to her to get out of the tough points.”
Indeed, Baird could spike the ball from several feet away from the net, so the Falcons’ setters never had to be perfect. That wasn’t the case with North, which came out sluggish in two of the three games. The Bull Dogs seldom had any easy kills.
“I thought we played well,” Greiner said. “But we didn’t play to our potential. With a team like Perry Meridian, you have to go out with a game plan and you have to continue to keep the pressure on them.”
The pressure, from beginning to end, was on North. At various points of the match the Bull Dogs fought back with some incredible digs as Baird and Clem, who had nine kills, fired away.
But North had the feel of a team playing defensively. Perry Meridian was doing all the attacking.
The Falcons built an 11-4 lead in the opening match when the lights went out the first time. The 30-minute delay seemed to wake up the Bull Dogs, who fought back to 20-17 before Baird had a key block for a point, and after a kill by North’s Janelle Peters, another kill for a 23-18 lead. North mistakes handed the first game to the Falcons.
North also got off to a slow start in the second game, falling behind 7-1 before regaining its focus.
“That’s the question of the year,” Greiner said when asked why her team got off to such a sluggish start. “We have been struggling to start off strong. That’s been a constant battle for us.”
Unlike the first game, the Bull Dogs never got into the second game, with Baird and Clem taking turns bashing the ball to the court for winners.
The final game was a different story, with the two teams battling to the wire. North had some incredible digs by Karen Wildemann. “Karen is a competitor through and through,” Greiner said.
On one particular play in the final game, Wildemann had a fantastic dig of a Baird bullet, and the ball rebounded back over the net for a winner to tie the score at 13-all. It looked like a fourth game might be inevitable.
When North’s Maliah Howard hit a winner for a tie at 22-all, it looked like North could break through. But Clem spiked a kill, and North was called for being in the net for a 24-22 Perry Meridian lead.
On match point, the game ended with Baird and Clem smothering a North shot at the net for a block and a 25-22 decision.
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