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Volleyball: North beats West to lock up tournament's second seed
North Forsyth sophomore Melina Baumann celebrates Thursday during the Raiders' 3-1 win against West Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

After splitting the first two sets, North Forsyth and West Forsyth each had an opportunity to take control of the match in the decisive third set.

Tied at 13 halfway through that set, it was North that rose to the occasion.

From that point on, the Raiders outscored West, 37-22, allowing them to win sets three and four, as well as the match, 3-1.

Needing a road victory to clinch the No. 2 seed heading into next week's region tournament, North head coach Kelly Christensen was proud of the way her team battled.

“We knew it was going to be a war coming in tonight, especially on their home court,” Christensen said. “They played everybody well in our region. They’re solid with both of their strong outside hitters. I’m glad that our girls came in mentally prepared for that. I just stand behind our defense. Our defense was lights out tonight, front row and back row.”

With West celebrating its senior night, the difference between the two teams was clear. While West was honoring 10 seniors, North’s team features zero seniors and only three juniors. The win was a big step for the young Raider team.

“With youth, you always question how they’re gonna come in mentally,” Christensen said. “Lately, we felt like we haven’t been playing our best volleyball. We were hoping we could trend upward a little bit. Tonight is exactly what we needed. We talked before about wanting them to play a complete match. Tonight, we felt like they played a complete match outside of the little rut in that second set.”

With the regular season over, North isn’t satisfied with the No. 2 seed.

They want to win the whole thing.

“They’re ruthless right now,” Christensen said. “Our girls, they want it bad. They want it as if they’re all seniors. Like this is their last chance. We’re glad that they have that mentality. They’ve all got each others’ backs right now. We’re kind of rolling on a high right now into next week, which is perfect timing.”

Sophomore Brooke Crummel led the way with 15 kills. Maddie McCafferty had nine kills,  Lily Torrence finished with eight and Nathalia Quintero added seven.

Melina Baumann blocked nine shots in the match, which ties a school record for blocks in a single match.

“Brooke really turned it on for us tonight,” Christensen said. “I feel like she had some huge kills. Natty and Lily, they were running our offense well. Maddie McCafferty made some great plays in the back row for us. I feel like we served really well all around. It’s hard to pick any couple individuals. It was a full team effort tonight.”

North will play seventh-seeded South Forsyth in the first round of the region tournament.

For West, head coach Jake Dickey felt that North played well, but that his team made a lot of mistakes that they normally don’t make.

“I thought they played well,” Dickey said. “We just lost focus. We missed 13 serves. We serve about 92 percent on the season. So in four sets, we should miss maybe two. We missed 13. That first set got away from us, and then it just kind of went downhill from there, but they played well.”

With the loss, West will be the third seed in the region tournament and will face sixth-seeded Denmark in the first round. Dickey’s focused on improving right now but believes his team has a real shot at winning the championship.

“Right now, we’re focusing on fixing little mistakes,” Dickey said. “We’re going in to win it. We’re right there. We know what we need to do. We’ll play a team that we’ve already beaten in the first round either way, and then we get North again.”

The group of seniors that West honored have been with the program for a long time, and Dickey holds them in high regard.

“They’re awesome,” Dickey said. “Most of them have been with this program since sixth grade. It means a lot to them, and they play hard. They’re great leaders, and they’re just a fun group to coach.”