Photo by Neil BurkThe Chargers earned a share of the Sagamore Athletic Conference volleyball title with a win over Tri-West Thursday.
Photo by Neil Burk

The Chargers earned a share of the Sagamore Athletic Conference volleyball title with a win over Tri-West Thursday.
LIZTON -- It would be hard to imagine a more fitting way to claim a share of the Sagamore Athletic Conference title than how North Montgomery achieved it Thursday.

They took to the road and battled for five sets to take a win over Tri-West and earn a share of the conference title with Western Boone and Lebanon. The three teams finished with 6-1 records in the Sagamore.

"It's a wonderful feeling. It's awesome," North Montgomery head coach Jodi Webster said. "It's been a great week and it's a great way to end this week."

With things knotted at two sets apiece, the Chargers needed to score just 15 points to win the fifth set and share the conference crown.

But it wasn't easy.

The Bruins jumped out early, forcing a timeout when it was 4-1. The Chargers recovered, but couldn't totally close the gap until they knotted it at 10-10 and again at 11-11.

Conner Norman and Ally French delivered a huge block on one of Tri-West's biggest swingers. It stole any momentum the Bruins had left and made it clear the Chargers weren't leaving without their championship.

"That block was huge," Webster said. "That was momentum right there."

They finished things off with a big kill by senior Lindzy Sabens. She finished with 13 kills.

"Her nickname is "Sparky." So it was absolutely fitting," Webster said. "I thought my seniors gave all tonight and did great things. Every girl in this group gives something that's important for us to be successful. And if they don't give it, we're in trouble. Tonight every one of them gave it."

The Bruins jumped on the Chargers early. Leading by as much at 13-7 in the first set, Tri-West established their big hitters early on and gave North Montgomery fits. The tides began to change with a block from French that started a Charger rally.

"Keeping (Kristen Buss) out of rhythm was probably one of the biggest keys. She's a great player for them and really controls the tempo for them," Webster said.

North Montgomery eventually knotted it at 15-15 and took the lead with back to back aces from senior Brook Karle. She would have four total aces on the night. The Bruins couldn't recover and North took the first set, 25-19.

The second and third sets went to Tri-West, 25-22 and 25-19. Each time, the Chargers kept themselves in it with big kills and exceptional serving. They just couldn't close it out in the middle sets.

The Bruins (20-8) seemed to jump ahead early in the fourth set, but they were penalized for using the wrong server, so the set started 2-1 in favor of North Montgomery instead. They extended that all the way to 6-1 before things started to even up.

Ahead 14-10 already, North Montgomery (17-15) went on a run 10-2 run to make it 24-12 and put the set well out of reach. Included in that run were back to back aces from junior Cortney Kolger. She finished with a game-high seven aces. The set ended 25-15.

"It came down to our ability to spot-serve and pick up our aggressiveness on the hitting," Webster said.

The title is the first for the team since 2009. It was the first title for Lebanon since 1998 and the first time Western Boone lost a conference match in four years when they were defeated by the Tigers.

North Montgomery 3, Tri-West 2

25-19, 22-25, 19-25, 25-15, 15-13

Kills: Ally French 17, Lindzy Sabens 13, Cortney Kolger 7, Carli Cahill 6, Conner Norman 4, Megan Warren 3, Brook Karle 1

Aces: Kolger 7, Karle 4, Warren 2

Blocks: Norman 4, French 2, Cahill 1, Warren 1

Digs: Karle 19, Sabens 14, Tori Martin 12, Warren 10, Kolger 6, Norman 3, French 3

Assists: Warren 44, Karle 3, Norman 1