The North Platte Community College Lady Knights volleyball team (21-13) helped head coach Sally Thalken earn the 900th win in her career at North Platte on Thursday night as the Lady Knights knocked off host Southeast Community College (12-18) in four sets (20-25, 28-26, 25-14, 26-24) to open up the Region IX Division II Tournament. Central Community College defeated Dawson Community College in other Region IX Division II action.
The Lady Knights started off slow as they would drop the first set 20-25 to the Lady Storm. In the second set the Lady Storm continued their momentum from the opening set victory to an early lead before the Lady Knights stormed back to claim the second set and even the match. The Lady Knights would hold on to the momentum for the entire third set as they would cruise to a 25-14 victory. The fourth set was a hard fought battle before the Lady Knights were able to close the door on the Lady Storm and win the match 26.-24 after squandering a 24-21 lead.
The Lady Knights were led by Sandrina Hallahan who finished with 13 kills and four blocks. Samantha Kennedy also chipped in double figure kills, finishing with 11. Shannon Liewer and Sabrina Hallahan paced the Lady Knights in digs with 27 and 22 respectively. Joli Hopping led the way in assists with 21 while Laura Beckman was right behind with 17.
“That was a key game to win,” said head coach Sally Thalken. “Southeast is a good team and it was a great win for us. We played pretty flat in the first set then came from behind to save ourselves in the second. A big, big win in the second for us. We played with a ton of aggression and confidence in the third and almost let the fourth slip through our fingers.”
North Platte and Central end the day 1-0 while Southeast and Dawson end 0-1. The four teams play a round-robin with the top two teams advancing to a Championship game. Whoever emerges from the round-robin with the #1 seed will need to be beaten twice by the #2 seed to earn the Region IX Division II Tournament Title.
The Lady Knights return to action Friday morning as they play No. 14 Central Community College (25-10) at 11 a.m. The Lady Knights will conclude the round-robin portion of the tournament against Dawson Community College (6-25) at 7 p.m. Friday evening. Both games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1410 with Robert Lovell on the call.
Should the Lady Knights finish in the top two teams after the round-robin they will play on Saturday October 2 at 1 p.m. for the Region IX Championship with the No. 2 seed needing to win two games to capture the title. The winner will advance to the District G Playoff to compete for a berth in the National Division II Tournament.