With North Cobb outside hitter Savanna Gonzales and Pope setter Morgan Dees out with injuries, both sides went through rough patches — Pope in the first set, North Cobb in the second.
A tight third set came down to which team went on a run at the right time, and that ended up being North Cobb, which gutted out a
25-17, 13-25, 25-21 victory at the Hound Pound.
Both teams went on to lose in straight sets to the third team of the tri-match, Johns Creek.
North Cobb (10-4) broke the third set open when Karla Radillo served out five straight points — two on aces — to build a 19-11 lead. Even though Pope (6-5) cut the lead to three at 20-17, North Cobb won the key points to stay in front.
Lizzie Daniel hit a free ball kill for a 22-17 lead, Miller added another for a 23-18 lead and Kayla Ebron’s slam gave the Lady Warriors match point.
“We chose a much better rotation for us (in the third set),” North Cobb coach James Auld said. “We had more confident hitters in the front row, and better serve-receive in the back row, and that combination allowed us to get off to an early lead like we did in the first set.”
It was North Cobb’s first win over Pope since Auld took over the program in 2006. The Lady Warriors had lost their previous four meetings with Pope, with the last meeting coming in the finals of the 2011 county tournament.
With Gonzales missing her first match of the year with what Auld said was an ankle sprain, nine different players touched the ball offensively for North Cobb, with Abby Miller and Madi Dukes each finishing with eight kills.
Auld said Gonzalez is expected to be back in time for the Lovett Block Party on Sept. 6, but Dees’ ankle injury may be more serious. Pope coach Bryan Jones said he won’t know the severity until she undergoes an MRI this week.
With Dees out, the Lady Greyhounds are using as many as three different setters. Chelsea Calhoun got most of the touches against North Cobb, finishing with 10 assists, and Celine Das added five.
“It’s going to be a learning process in the next couple of weeks,” Jones said. “Chelsea is going to get three or four rotations of setting. Celine is going to get some rotations and Kristen (Phillips) is going to get one.”
In the first set, North Cobb served aggressively, and Pope appeared disorganized when it came to passing. The end result was a 19-11 North Cobb lead that the Lady Greyhounds couldn’t bounce back from.
The roles reversed in the second set, however, with Pope serving more aggressively and passing better. It went on an eight-point run to start the set, and that was all it needed to secure the lead.
The Lady Greyhounds also blocked well in the second set, with Christina Bixby finishing the match with two solo blocks and two block-assists. Offensively, Sydney Darden led Pope with 14 kills.