NORMAN — For Norman North and Norman High, there was no better way to prepare for the postseason than with a Crosstown Clash in the final contest of the regular season.
After defeating the Tigers, 25-16, 25-17 and 25-20, in straight sets, it appears that the 11th-ranked Timberwolves are more prepared to make waves in the regional tournaments that begin on Thursday.
NHS hung tough with North from the beginning, but the Tigers found themselves consistently playing defense to the T-Wolves’ big hitters. North used a combination of tough serves and effective play above the net to pull away in each of the first two sets, while the Timberwolves squeaked out a victory in the third.
“It’s a fun game for the girls to come out here with it being Senior Night and having the crowd and the atmosphere,” coach Stephanie Kane said.
It was an impressive victory for North (15-12), which heads into a 3:30 p.m. match against Putnam City tomorrow at Edmond Memorial to open the postseason. The Timberwolves are expected to advance to a regional final against No. 6 Edmond Memorial in a showdown against a team they’ve yet to beat but took to five sets when the two last met on Sept. 27.
Looking ahead to the regional, Kane said the underdog role the T-Wolves have been cast in could work to their advantage, and she’s confident they have what it takes to knock off Edmond Memorial.
“People think we’re just a decent Class 6A team, but they haven’t seen us,” she said. “If they come out and they play 100 percent and are mentally focused, we can beat them.”
There also were encouraging signs for NHS (11-19), which improved as the match as the match went on and took North to the wire in the final set of the match. The Tigers will meet Enid at 1 p.m. Thursday at Tulsa Union in the regional tournament.
Several extended points in the last set were especially impressive for the Tigers. They dug out several hard T-Wolves’ spikes and went back and forth for a handful of volleys before setting up a spike to win the point.
The Tigers hung tough until the end falling behind early before fighting back to tie it at 10 points apiece. They pulled within a point again at 16-15 before North was able to create some distance on its way to the 25-20 victory.
It’s that kind of improved play that coach Randi Lewis wants her to team to take into its meeting with Enid, a squad that the Tigers beat earlier in the season.
“Obviously, we wanted to walk out of here with a win, but we’re feeling good going into regionals,” she said. “Tonight, we made too many unforced errors and were fighting against ourselves from the beginning. But I’m proud of the way they fought back in that last game and scored their own points.”
Follow me @Chosler88