Panthers prove it’s still their planet in win over North
NASHUA — They turned Titans Gym into Panther Planet.
The Nashua High School South girls volleyball team systematically dispatched of their Nashua North rivals in their own gym, 3-0, to stay unbeaten (11-0) on the season.
It was quite a 24 hour span for the Panthers, who had to follow up a huge five set win over previously unbeaten Pinkerton with a match against their arch rivals. They were up to the task, 25-20,25-19, 25-14 in front of a raucous student crowd, many on the South side draped in bright green, the alien theme they devised.
“It was definitely different, the intensity from playing another undefeated team is just a different mindset,” South senior middle hitter Catherine Covert said. “But when you come into this gym, you’ve got the fans talking to you. We were exhausted, but we pushed through and got it.”
“I think they’re always pumped for this game,” South coach Wayne Siejkowski said. “It’s always emotional, they’re always ready for it. I actually think having the rivalry after such a long night last night, if we had played another team, it might have been tough for us.
“Having that rivalry helped fuel them for the first 15 points, and then they got settled in.”
They did, thanks in part to the powerful play of senior outside hitter Kara Kelliher, who led the way with 10 kills.
“She’s a talented athlete,” North coach Nicole Fitzgibbons said, her team now 5-6. “You know when you have players like that, they’re going to get their points. It’s just trying to minimize it and get some of our own as well.”
The Titans did that in the opening set, rallying from a 12-5 deficit to even things at 20. But the Panthers got the next five points to take a 1-0 lead. They also pulled away from up just 14-12 in the second set, going up 18-13 on a Kelliher kill and maintaining a five or six point lead the rest of the way.
Then the Panthers jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the third set, and with a 16-13 lead, closed things out taking nine of the next 10 points.
Paige Garland added eight kills for South, with Cara Lecklider getting five. Don’t discount the work of Anne Sherman, who had nine assists and three aces. “I’m really impressed with the way Anne Sherman has played,” Siejkowski said. “She runs the offense.”
North got five kills and seven digs from Abby Coy, four blocks and two kills from Alexis Miranda, four blocks from Kelsey Laliberte, and two kills, two blocks from Haley Stanton.
But it didn’t add up to beating a tough unbeaten.
“I thought it was a great night,”Fitzgibbons said. “I thought South did well, and I saw a lot of things from our side too. I was very, very happy with the first two sets.”
But the Panthers smelled the kill, went for it, and this week it’s been their world.