NEWTON — Actions speak louder than words.
Newton’s Cardinals spoke volumes on Saturday. They just didn’t have the outcome they wanted at the 2013 NHS Cardinal Volleyball Invitational.
“I have to commend our players for the way they played in pool play. We picked off two ranked teams in pool play, and we’re unranked,” said Kim Florke said. “We came back in a couple matches and had to win the last two sets to get the victories.”
The Cardinals went undefeated in pool play, beating Des Moines North 21-3, 21-8, Class 2A fifth-ranked Eddyville-Blakesburg 16-21, 21-16, 15-8, and Class 4A 15th-ranked Boone 18-21, 21-13, 15-9.
Newton, Eddyville-Blakesburg moved into the championship round of the tournament. Coming in from the other pool were Class 4A top-ranked Harlan, which was after its third straight Cardinal Invitational title, and Class 4A 12th-ranked Pella.
Newton faced Pella in the semifinals. The Cardinals pushed the Little Dutch to the third set. Pella pulled out a 25-18, 21-25, 15-6 win. Harlan got past Eddyville-Blakesburg 25-13, 25-12.
“We got fatigued and did not play well in the championship round matches. We had trouble last week in the Nevada tournament when we had a break and they ate something,” Florke said. “ I told them this. When your physically fatigued, the mind says ‘I’m fatigued,’ then the mind can’t focus on what the mind needs to do.
“I think that’s what happens to us when we eat and then come back and play. That’s why we didn’t get where we wanted to get to today. So, we have to right that somehow. Maybe it’s conditioning. I don’t know but we have to get over that hump.”
After falling to Pella, the Cardinals faced Eddyville-Blakesburg’s Rockets for the second time on the day. The Rockets avenged the earlier loss in pool play, beating the Cardinals 25-19, 25-11.
Harlan proved why it is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A. The Cyclones did not lose a set in five matches Saturday. They defeated Pella for the second time in the tournament championship, 25-15, 25-8.
Newton went 3-2 in the tournament. It steps back into Little Hawkeye Conference play Tuesday at home against Grinnell. The Cardinals are 3-1 in conference play and 19-9 overall.
The Cardinals dispatched Des Moines North’s Polar Bears in the opening pool match. Holly Vander Pol and Michaela Bleeker each had seven kills. Jennifer Ventling served 10-for-10 with three aces and Bleeker had two ace serves, going 11-of-12 at the service line. Megan Pressgrove had 19 set assists, and Kacy Carzett led the defense with six digs.
After dropping the first set to Eddyville-Blakesburg, the Cardinals battled back to take the second set on a Vander Pol kill. The deciding third set was tight. Bailey Beaderstadt served up three points to push Newton’s lead to 8-3.
Newton was up 13-8 when Ventling stepped to the service line. She served out the match with two points. The final winning point came on a Beaderstadt kill to hand the Rockets only their third loss of the season.
The Cardinals moved on to face Boone, another ranked team but also a Class 4A team. Boone took the lead and was able to hold off any challenges the Cardinals made during the first set. It was 15-14 when the Toreadors rattled off four straight service points.
Newton wasn’t folding yet, down 19-15. Bleeker was serving and Pressgrove had three plays at the net to score points. Boone made a defensive play to get the serve back and got the 21-18 win.
“Yes, coach talked to us at that break about this was a statement match for us. We needed to play ahead in the set and get to a third set,” Ventling said. “We didn’t play ahead much. We wanted to beat a ranked team to show we deserved to be ranked.”
Ventling, who was sidelined with an ankle injury earlier in the season, said the Cardinals attacked the net well. She said once they got a good pass to set, everything else fell into place. They knew they had made too many service errors “but we overcame them,” Ventling added.
The Cardinals did play ahead in the second set. Amber Karsten set the tone with a kill on Boone’s first serve. Vander Pol served up two points, and Newton stayed out front for the 21-13 win.
Boone had a 7-6 lead in the third set. Bleeker served for two points, the second one was an ace to the far corner of the court. It was back-and-forth with sideouts. A kill by Ventling put the Cardinals up 11-9 and she went back to serve.
Four points were all they needed to win it and make a statement. Vander Pol had two kills in the four-point run to help get the 15-9 victory.
“It was a statement match because, here’s a ranked 4A team, and we feel like we should be ranked. We’re not and they are. Go beat them,” Florke said. “I’ve talked about it with our players that we have to show the state that we deserve to be ranked.
“Until you earn that respect, you’re not going to get it. Beating Eddyville with only two losses and we got Boone, now the two losses at the end might hurt us. We’ve got to stop talking about it and show it.”
The Cardinals had to battle from behind against Pella, losing the first set. They did have a five-point service run by Ventling to climb back to within three, 16-12. They trailed most of the second set, tying it at 18-18.
Down 21-19, Ventling produced a kill to get the service back for Newton. Bleeker, who was 13-of-14 serving with six aces in the match, served up five consecutive points. Pressgrove had a tip and Vander Pol delivered a kill to win 25-21.
There were a lot of sideouts early in the third set. Then Pella rolled on a five-point run to a 15-6 win.
Not much went right for Newton against Eddyville-Blakesburg. The Cardinals had a lot of service errors in the match. They had tied the first set up at 17-17 then a net serve gave the ball back to the Rockets, who served six consecutive points. Newton held off set point twice then lost 25-19.
The second set went much the same way, but the Cardinals never tied the score. The Rockets pulled away for the 25-11 win.
For the tournament, Bleeker racked up 42 kills, going 82-of-93 on attacks, while Vander Pol had 32 kills (70-of-81). Karsten had 14 kills, followed by Ventling and Pressgrove with 12 apiece. Beaderstadt had eight kills.
Pressgrove was credited with 94 set assists for the five matches, going 239-of-282 on setting the volleyball. Ventling had two solo blocks and four assisted blocks. Pressgrove made four assisted blocks while Beaderstadt had two assisted blocks, and Vander Pol and Bleeker each had one assisted block.
Bleeker had 13 ace serves on the day and Ventling had six aces. Vander Pol served up four aces, while Pressgrove had three and Karsten had two aces.
Defensively, Bleeker made 36 digs and Vander Pol had 35 digs. Cazett made 24 digs. Karsten and Pressgrove each had 21 digs and Ventling had three.