Hoggard rallies from two sets down in victory over New Hanover

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Hoggard 3     New Hanover 2

(21-25, 24-26, 25-22, 25-19, 21-19)

Over the years Hoggard volleyball has owned the crosstown rivalry with New Hanover, but on Monday night it was a different story as the Lady Vikings found themselves trailing two sets to none before rallying past the Wildcats 3-2 in  a hard fought battle that served as the Mideastern Conference opener for both sides at James Hebbe Gymnasium.

After leveling the match at two games apiece, Hoggard went down 7-2 in the decisive fifth set before mounting a tremendous comeback as each team traded punches until senior Logan Smith used a soft touch over net to grab a 20-19 edge and set up match point on an assist to Isabella Carpenter to secure the victory.

Logan Smith. Photos by Joe Catenacci
Logan Smith. Photos by Joe Catenacci

“New Hanover played a great match and we helped them tremendously and frequently,” said Hoggard Coach Ron Strickland. “I told them after going down 2-0 that this is your house and we’re not going to roll over in three.”

With their fair share of struggles and unforced errors early in the game to aid New Hanover’s two set advantage, outside hitter Meagan Trotta found her groove in the final stages of the match with a handful of kills to propel the Vikings’ attack.

Madie Schider also provided stability in the back line as the junior specialist played a key role in keeping volleys alive to help Hoggard grab a 1-0 mark in league play.

“Meagan Trotta had a rough two sets, but she came on strong in that fifth set,” Strickland added. “Madie was phenomenal. She’s one of the best in the region. New Hanover is a team to watch out.  We still didn’t play to our capabilities tonight, but we got the win and everybody contributed in the effort.”

The match was closely played throughout the contest as there were 10 lead changes and eight ties in the fifth set alone, while sophomore Kirby Smith picked up her game at net down the stretch. With their backs against the wall in a must-win situation, the Vikings scored three of last four points in game three to stay alive and went on a 7-0 run to close out the fourth set.

Courtney Loughran.
Courtney Loughran.

“I’m extremely proud of our girls and the game we played tonight,” said New Hanover Coach Mark Hafer. “This is what we’ve been trying to do at New Hanover over the course of the last few years. You’re starting to see it. I couldn’t be happier with our performance tonight even though we didn’t come home with the win.”

The Wildcats used a strong game from Alyssa Gowdy, Julia Rhine and senior Paris Backston on the attack as New Hanover built a 21-15 lead in the opening game before Hoggard went on a 4-0 run to close the deficit. A cross court finish by Emily Andrews kept the Wildcats intact, ultimately using two unforced errors to secure the early edge.

Setter Courtney Loughran gave New Hanover hitters  quality passes and finish with 27 assists, while Olivia Backston anchored the defense, recording 31 digs. Autumn James also came off the bench to give the Wildcats a spark with a handful of kills to go along with Gowdy, who finished with nine kills and six blocks.

A set from Kenna Casto to Backston followed by an ace from the service line by Rhine helped New Hanover take the second set, 26-24.

The Wildcats dropped to 0-1 in league play and 3-1 overall as New Hanover continues a four-game road trip at Cape Fear Academy on Tuesday. Hoggard returns to the floor with games at South Brunswick and West Brunswick on Tuesday and Wednesday.