BABBITT— A playoff comeback for the record books. That’s the only way to describe the Nighthawks’ stunning come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the Section 7A playoffs Monday night. …
BABBITT— A playoff comeback for the record books. That’s the only way to describe the Nighthawks’ stunning come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the Section 7A playoffs Monday night.
Eighth-seeded Northeast Range had earned home court advantage for the first round, but it looked like it wasn’t going to make a difference as ninth-seeded Chisholm took the first two games of the match, 25-19 and 25-21, and grabbed an early lead in what looked to be the deciding third set.
But about midway through, the young Nighthawks squad appeared to shake off their post-season jitters and settled in with determination. Head Coach Jodi Reichensperger said she saw the change in the break between the second and third sets, and gave credit to her players. “Sophie Lenz said, ‘well I guess we’re going to five.’ And it seemed there was a shift. It’s like they woke a sleeping giant. Then it was like never say die, they weren’t going to go down.”
The Nighthawks fell behind early in the third set, but rebounded to take the game 25-21, thanks to some strong serving and fewer errors, which allowed them to gain some much-needed momentum. It showed in games four and five, when the Nighthawks played loose and with confidence to take down the Bluestreaks 25-22 and 15-11. “They had to use the AED to revive me,” quipped Reichensperger, who is known for her exuberance during matches. “It was torture to watch.”
And that was despite the fact that Reichensperger had seen it all before. Indeed, the Nighthawks had defeated Chisholm in five games back in September, after losing the first two sets. Even the scores were remarkably similar, with the Nighthawks winning the third set by the same 25-21 score before taking game five by the identical 15-11 final.
Melissa Nelmark, the Nighthawks’ lone senior, will be playing at least one more match as she led her team with 38 set assists while adding nine digs. Hannah Reichensperger was the team leader in kills with 18, along with 15 digs and four blocks, while Sophie Lenz had 13 kills, 17 digs and two blocks. Maija Maki had 14 digs and Maude Lenz added 9 digs to go with 7 kills.
The playoffs weren’t going to get any easier for Northeast Range as they were set to travel to take to top-seeded Deer River on Wednesday night as the Timberjay went to press. The Warriors finished the regular season at 17-10, but Reichensperger said anything can happen come the playoffs. “We’re the underdogs for sure, but there’s no pressure when you’re eighth seed playing the first seed. We just have to maintain our intensity.”