By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
EDMOND — It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Perhaps Norman North wasn’t supposed to exit Edmond Memorial with its ticket to the Class 6A state volleyball tournament punched, but it was still supposed to have the chance.
Sports, though, can be funny that way.
“They were a lot stronger than we expected them to be,” North senior setter Hayley Reed said.
“They” were the Putnam City Pirates and they surprised the Timberwolves with a 3-2 (25-20, 14-25, 18-25, 26-24, 15-11) victory late Thursday afternoon in the opening round of Class 6A regional play.
North entered ranked No. 11 hoping to earn a spot against sixth-ranked Memorial. The T-Wolves outpointed the Pirates 105-98, yet that’s not the way the winner’s determined.
“Just the same old thing throughout the whole season,” senior hitter McKayla Benner said, “having to finish and fight for what we want.”
North had two different sets from which to advance, yet after dropping the fourth, they were never in a strong position in the fifth, the only set in which scoring 15 points, rather than 25, is the idea.
The T-Wolves were never in the driver’s seat, falling behind 4-1, getting within 7-6 and later 12-10 before the Pirates ran off the set’s last three points.
Along the way, North was a little unlucky, getting caught in a difficult rotation that left Benner waiting on her chance to enter the front row. She finished with 17 kills in 34 swings for a crazy high .500 hitting percentage, but was only in position to put two balls away in the final set.
First-year coach Stephanie Kane, who liked the body of work her team put together over the season, struggled to like Thursday.
“If you let up for a second, anything can happen,” she said. “We didn’t see PCO at all this season, so we were kind of coming in (not knowing what to expect), but I feel like we gave up a lot of points. They earned some, but I felt like we gave away more than they earned … I don’t understand why we can’t just come out there and play.”
Madison Brammer added 13 kills for the T-Wolves and an amazing 28 digs. Between them, Olivia Candida and Cassie Watson added 35 kills.
So it ended, leaving North to hold on to the way it closes the regular season, beating some very good teams and taking still better teams deep into matches, rather than the way it exited the playoffs.
“I just think how we’ve grown as a team,” said Reed, who picked up 39 assists in her last turn to wear the uniform. “That’s like the real win here. I feel like we’ve come a long way.”
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