When two Putnam County schools get together for a matchup in any sport, fans can expect a hard-fought contest on both sides. However, Thursday's volleyball match between North Putnam and South Putnam outdid itself.
After an opening game that went to extra points, with North winning 31-29, neither team could pull away until the deciding game. Ultimately, the homestanding Eagles were victorious, 29-31, 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 15-4.
"We just played consistently," Newton said. "We played consistent all night, and that's something we've been struggling with. I'm just really proud of them that even though we lost (game 4), we came back and won (game 5)."
"Tonight we had two very evenly matched teams," Cougar coach Michelle Spencer said. "We played well until the fifth game, and then let a few mental mistakes determine the outcome of the game. "
Early in the night, it looked as if the Eagles would gain the upper hand, with a 22-18 lead in game one. They even got it to game point, but the Cougars came back, trading points and serves for several points, before ultimately winning, 31-29.
After losing such a hard-fought game, Newton was simply proud of how her team fought back in the next two games.
"In that first game, we were at game point, and then we missed a serve, and then they took the game away from us," Newton said. "It went back and forth, back and forth, but we didn't stop fighting."
Both teams fought hard in the second game, with neither leading by more than three until South scored the final four behind the service of Liz Mink.
Game three was more of the same, with short services, but the Eagles led most of the way, ultimately pulling away for the five-point victory.
Momentum looked to have shifted South's way, but the Cougars came back with another good game. The lead changed hands five times early, but North ultimately took control for the 25-20 victory.
And just when momentum seemed to be on the Cougars' side, the Eagles took it back for the match victory.
In the victory, Newton highlighted the hard work of her whole team, but singled out one hustling senior.
"Sam Stanifer goes diving on one side of the court, comes back and goes diving on the other side of the court. She dove into the bleachers and came right back up," Newton said. "She's a hard worker, and somebody I'm just glad to have on my team. If she's out there, she's working."
But the hard work went for the entire Eagles' squad.
"The whole team works, so I'm just very proud of them tonight," Newton said. "It was a conference game, it was a county game, and it's a county rival. I think they really wanted it, and they wanted to go out with the win. They wanted to win to keep the winning streak (2 matches) and stay above .500. (6-4)"
For Spencer's part, she liked much of what she saw from her team Thursday, and plans to turn the negative of losing the match into a learning experience as the Cougars move forward with the season.
"We have to move on from a difficult loss and try to turn it into a learning experience," Spencer said. "Now, we must look forward to County Tourney next weekend. I think we have the kind of team that can move forward and get better in the face of adversity."
The Eagles return to the court at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 at Owen Valley. The Cougars are back in action at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6 when they host Rockville.
At South Putnam
North Putnam 31 21 20 25 4
South Putnam 29 25 25 20 15
Kills -- Johnston 8, Mink 7, Stanifer 6, Burdge 4, Trauner 2 (SP), Alles 10, McGaughey 9, L. Doyle 7, A. Doyle 3, Wendling 2, Tippin 1 (NP)
Points -- Boetjer 13, Johnston 12, Stanifer 12, Miller 9, Mink 7, Trauner 3 (SP)
Aces -- Stanifer 4, Miller 3, Trauner 2, Boetjer 1, Mink 1, Johnston 1 (SP), L. Doyle 1, McGaughey 1, Wendling 1 (NP)
Blocks -- Johnston 5, Trauner 5, Mink 4 (SP), Alles 5, A. Doyle 3, Green 2, L. Doyle 1, Tippin 1, Wendling 1 (NP)
Assists -- Stanifer 15 (SP), Wendling 18, McGaughey 2, L. Doyle 1 (NP)
Digs -- Sibbitt 5, Stanifer 3 (SP), A. Doyle 20, Alles 17, McGaughey 15, Green 14, L. Doyle 13, Wendling 8, Tippin 4 (NP)