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Panther comeback stuns Discoverers

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Ellie Thompson

Columbus High junior Ellie Thompson tips a shot over the Fremont defense in a Sept. 4 match at home. Thompson led CHS with 14 kills in Thursday's home loss to Norfolk.

Columbus High volleyball took a two sets to none lead over rival Norfolk at home on Thursday night only to see the Panthers come back and spoil the Maroon Cup matchup between the two in a five-set conclusion.

Norfolk handed Columbus a third straight loss in the series between the two by a final of 19-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-13, 15-6.

Columbus was effective and in a rhythm in the first with 13 kills and an attack percentage of 2.86. But the Discoverers had a 24-19 lead in the second and let the Panthers rattle off six points in a row. Although CHS finally finished the set off at 28-26, the momentum gained from that late surge carried Norfolk through the rest of the night.

"We knew going into the match that this would be a tough one that could go back-and-forth based on how we matched up," coach Jeri Otten said. "The first two sets we did a really good job of getting them out of system and getting us in system to run our offense. That and few errors in every aspect (led to a good start)."

Following a late, near comeback from Norfolk in the second it was tied 7-7 in the third when the visitors scored the next four points and held the lead the rest of the way.

The Panthers scored the fist 10 points of the fourth set and put the match away with nine of the first 10 in the fifth.

"That was real tough," Otten said. "We made errors to kill our own momentum in long rallies, so it was tough for us to find something to build off of."

Norfolk's leading hitter, sophomore, Carly Reis, also began to have more of an effect as the match wore on. She came up with just five kills in the first set then had 16 over the last two.

Junior Ellie Thompson had 14 kills while sophomore Addi Johnson and senior Josie Garret both had 13. Columbus piled up 52 kills but also committed 25 hitting errors for a .140 attack percentage.

Senior setter Abby Loeffelholz had 45 assists, she and Johnson both had two aces and senior libero Claire Renner led with 17 digs.

The loss dropped CHS to 12-16 with the HAC Tournament the only remaining matches on the regular season schedule. Columbus Hosts Lincoln North Star in the first round on Monday.

Otten said the Discoverers would return to practice Friday morning with a focus on the future. 

"We know how that and the matches next week will impact our district seeding," she said. "We had to put (this loss) in the rear view mirror immediately so we can focus on what we can do now for the HAC, and ultimately, for districts.

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