By Noah Rubin
Every match in Area 6-7A figures to be competitive.
The first of this season for Forsyth Central and North Forsyth did not disappoint.
Central won the first set 25-22, but North roared back to win three straight sets — 25-19, 25-22, 25-21 — to take the match 3-1.
North head coach Kelly Christensen was proud of the way her team fought.
“We had a pretty good game plan for Central going in, and our girls did a really great job,” Christensen said. “They’re a young group, but it’s always dependent on how they are that day. They were just locked in, dialed in, confident coming in to today. All credit to them. They did a great job. They wanted to be in that sort of pressure situation tonight, and they handled that pressure well.”
That youth has been a popular theme for North this season. They have zero seniors on the team and only three juniors.
While their youth may have shown at times throughout the season, it didn’t show tonight.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Christensen said. “But we just continue to lean on some of our junior leadership. Nathalia Quintero is a great leader for us. Just trying to keep that composure, and they’re doing a great job. We’re developing those leaders on the floor that some other teams might naturally have in seniors.”
One bright spot for North this season has been the play of Brooke Crummel. She had 20 kills against Central and now has 216 kills this season.
“She’s our offense,” Christensen said. “Lily does a great job offensively too, but Brooke was just lights out for us tonight. When she’s locked in and dialed in, she loves being in that moment. She loves having the ball in crucial situations. She’s been huge, and tonight she really stepped up and did an amazing job.”
Forsyth Central head coach Brian Welsch saw Crummel's dominance in person Thursday.
“Brooke Crummel is a very, very good volleyball player,” Welsch acknowledged. “When they have the ball control to run her in the middle, she’s going to be hard to stop.”
Welsch also made it clear that there are no days off playing in this area.
“It didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to, clearly,” Welsch said. “I feel like there were some points that we left out on the board. I thought offensively we did a pretty decent job. I thought they did a very good job making adjustments and a pretty good job forcing us to play. We stepped on our toes. It happened too many times.
“They’re a good program, it’s a good rivalry. At the end of the day, it’s almost always going to be a nail-biter. You’re not going to get a lot of one-sided situations. In Game 2, we started off in a real funk. I expect almost every match in our region to be that kind of volleyball.”
Sarah Pipping has been a key player for Central this season. She had a team-high 242 kills coming into this match and added 12 more.
“Sarah’s done a great job,” Welsch said. “She’s been an offensive workhorse for us. She serves pretty well. Her serve receive passing has come a long way this year. She’s a very explosive player and fun to watch.”
North [19-6, 1-0 Area 6-7A] will step out of area play this weekend before hosting Denmark at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while Central [21-4, 0-1 Area 6-7A] resumes area play at Lambert at 6 p.m. Tuesday following a weekend tournament.