By TRENT SCOTT
For the Banner Graphic
ROACHDALE -- North Putnam's volleyball squad hosted Cascade Thursday night with a chance for the winning team to pick up their second WCC win of the year.
After the Cadets ran through the first set, the hosts dug in and won a thrilling five set contest 13-25, 25-14, 12-25, 25-17 and 15-13.
Cascade opened the match with a bruising attack that knocked the Cougars back in the first set, preventing the home side from getting into any rhythm and quickly going up 1-0.
North Putnam answered with a nine-point run early in the second set that swung the momentum in the favor of the Cougars, who maintained a sizable gap to win set number two.
The third set mirrored the second, but it was Cascade that made the major move, going on a 12-1 run to take control of the set and put themselves up 2-1 in the match.
The action intensified in the fourth set as neither side broke away early being. Tied at 10-all, the hosts scored four straight to gain a small lead at 14-10.
North Putnam finally chased the Cadets away in the closing stages as the visitors started showing signs of frustration that they could not seem to get a grip on the match.
In the fifth and final set, Cascade opened up a 5-2 lead early on but could not sustain the advantage and the gap was closed at 7-all by the Cougars.
Both sides traded points back and forth for the next twelve serves, leaving the score deadlocked at 13-all.
Cascade held the serve but lost the next point and senior Sam Lucas's follow-up serve befuddled the Cadets to seal a major win for the host Cougars that pushed the hosts to 2-0 in the WCC.
Lucas had 11 kills and nine points, while Shay Lucas added seven digs, Kelsey Reed collected 11 points and Morgan Sanford chipped in 15 assists.
North Putnam head coach Jill Schreiber said that the squad had one hand on the on and off switch but turned their game on at the right moments.
"We really didn't do much in the first set. We didn't hit at all, we made the mistakes and we really were the ones that lost that first game," Schreiber said.
"We came back in the second set and said, 'Hey, we need to play.' We played with this team by doing the things we've been working on."
"We fell back into the same mindset as the first set in the third game, then played again in the fourth set to bring up a fifth set," Schreiber added.
"In that set, Cascade called a timeout late and I said, 'This is our chance to be 2-0 in the conference. This is one of our goals and it's up to you to reach it.'"
Schreiber was beaming at the way the squad worked with one another in the match and said that the group had a strong team mentality within them.
"The girls took charge and played the game like they could. We started off slow but we never pointed fingers at each other and worked really well as a team," Schreiber said.
"This is the easiest team I've had that I can tell them what to do and they work hard at it. The work we did all summer is showing and I'm very proud of them."
"We're not the same team that we've been in the past. This is a team that's really working together and they're building confidence. Nobody would have guessed we would have been 2-0 in the WCC," Schreiber added.
"We've set a lot of small goals and this is one of them, to be higher up in the conference. To see them and hear the excitement is awesome. I love it for them."
The next two weeks will be a major test for the North Putnam as, after a trip to Bethesda Christian, the Cougars play the remaining three conference matches in eight days.
Schreiber said the squad would be ready to see where they stacked up in the WCC hierarchy.
"They know that the next couple of weeks are very crucial," she said. "We have three conference games coming up in the next two weeks.
"We play Cloverdale next Thursday in our Breast Cancer Awareness match and play Greencastle the following Tuesday and Monrovia the next Thursday," Schreiber said.
"They know that those games are important and they're focusing on those games. By being 2-0 in the conference, I think it's giving them the confidence that they are good enough to go out and win those games."
At North Putnam
Cascade 25 14 25 17 13
North Putnam 13 25 12 25 15
Next Match: North Putnam travels to Bethesda Christian next Tuesday.