Collinsville pulls rank on Lady Panthers
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 10, 2004 - LEONARD - The North Hopkins Lady Panthers knocked off one ranked team in the playoffs, but they couldn't do it a second time on Tuesday night.

The Collinsville Pirates, ranked No. 10 in Class A, played a solid all-around game to take a 25-12, 25-16, 25-21 victory in the area round of the playoffs.

The Pirates had six girls with at least one kill and served 11 aces to end North Hopkins' season at 21-9. Collinsville (29-1) advances to play either Oakwood or Thrall in the regional semifinals

North Hopkins had beaten No. 9 Leverett's Chapel in bi-district after going through District 19-A unbeaten, but head coach Danna Lewis said Collinsville was the best Class A team they faced this season.

"I was proud of the girls this season. Tonight we were at a place no one thought we would be. We weren't even predicted to come out of our district," Lewis said. "These girls played with heart and determination every game, and a coach can't ask for anything more than that. We had a great season, and we'll be ready for next year.

"We didn't play our best game, but Collinsville has a tough team, and we wish them the best in the playoffs."

North Hopkins sophomore Ebbonye Johnson had a team-high 10 kills, eight points and two aces, while junior Katy Williams recorded six kills and senior Sara Weir had four. But, Collinsville received 12 kills from senior middle blocker Stevie Shelton and six each from sophomores Kelcie Miller and Brittaney Ross.

Pirate junior Amelia Corbett contributed a game-high 16 service points, and three aces. The Pirates were especially effective at serve and return and passing.

In each of the first two games, Collinsville jumped out to a big lead, North Hopkins fought back, and then Collinsville went on a late run to put the game away.

In the third game, it was North Hopkins who took the early lead, but had two calls that blunted their momentum early and late. Both times a Collinsville spike that sailed out of bounds was ruled by the line judge as being tipped by North Hopkins.

The second call came with Collinsville leading, 20-19, in the final game. Though North Hopkins won the next serve, the Lady Panthers' final two serves went out of bounds and into the net. They had seven bad serves in the match.

"I told the girls coming in that the team that won tonight would be the one that made the fewest mistakes," Lewis said. 'We missed some serves we normally don't miss and some passes we don't usually miss."

In the first game, Collinsville took a 4-0 lead, but North Hopkins trailed just 10-11 behind an ace from Ashley Wilson and four kills by Johnson, three of them off Maegan Baxter assists. Baxter had a team-high 13 assists. But, the Pirates won 14 of the next 16 points, including seven straight service points by Amber Farr to win.

In game two, Collinsville took a 5-0 lead off serves from Corbett, but once again North Hopkins pulled within striking distance at 10-12. The Pirates, though, allowed NH just one service point the remainder of the game.

"I'm proud the season we had," Coach Lewis said. "I wish it could have lasted longer."

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