NEWTON — “I love playing at home. Our student section was great. They supported us and it was awesome. We draw energy from them,” said Newton senior Kacy Cazett, following Tuesday’s Little Hawkeye Conference win at home for the Cardinal volleyball team.
The Cardinals used the energy from a large NHS student crowd to rally from a first-set loss against the visiting Grinnell Tigers. Newton defeated Grinnell 22-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-17 to go 4-1 in Little Hawkeye Conference play.
Grinnell gained the first set with a “short-game” approach.
“Grinnell seems to beat us in the past by doing things out of the ordinary — things we’re not ready to defend,” said Cardinal head coach Kim Florke. “We made an adjustment with our defense after the first set because of the tipping and their two-handed pushes of the ball to the middle of the floor.”
The Tigers got the volleyball to hit the floor a lot against the Cardinals by tipping the ball just over the net. Also they benefited from several “tape-runners,” when the volleyball caught the top of the net and ran down the tape, dropping on the Newton side.
Florke said the Cardinals brought everybody into the net and said “beat us long.” She said her team stopped the volleyball from dropping as much, which allowed the Cardinals to attack.
Using the conference-leading hitter Michaela Bleeker early in the second set, the Cardinals got out to a 6-2 lead. They stayed in front for the 25-21 win, which came on a Bailey Beaderstadt kill.
Bleeker delivered a team-high 26 kills in the match. And two of those came back-to-back with Amber Karsten on the service line in the third set, Karsten served up her only ace of the night to put the Cardinals up 4-1.
Karsten, who went 22-of-23 at the service line with 14 points and four aces overall, had a five-point run serving to restore the Cardinal lead after the Tigers gained a 12-13 advantage. Beaderstadt served up three points to push Newton’s lead up a little more, 21-15. The Cardinals won 25-18.
“Our team just came together. we always have our heads up and get back at it out there,” Cazett said. “After we noticed they were tipping a lot, I moved forward at middle back and set up closer to the 10-foot line. I was able to pick up more tips.”
Cazett plays libero — a back-row defensive specialist — for the Cardinals. She had 13 digs in the match. Bleeker also picked up 13 digs and Holly Vander Pol had 12 digs.
Newton established a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five match. Grinnell wasn’t folding. The Tigers got a 7-6 lead on three straight service points. Newton set to their go-to hitter, Bleeker, who downed a kill to make it 7-7.
Bleeker was serving so Megan Pressgrove set up Jennifer Ventling, not just once but twice, for kills. The Cardinals never trailed after that but did have to fend off the Tigers a couple of times.
Bleeker, who served for nine points as she went 16-of-16 at the service line with two aces on the night, had a four-point stint serving to get a 22-15 lead. Vander Pol had a kill and a tip in that run for Newton. Ventling, who had five service points on the night used an ace to get the final point, 25-17.
“We played more consistently in the final three sets tonight. Our freshman setter is making some mistakes but that’s going to happen. Megan is improving all the time for us,” Florke said. “What I really liked about tonight’s match was all seven hitters really peppered the ball. We were really swinging at it really well.”
Pressgrove had a triple-double for the Cardinals. She was credited with 41 set assists plus she had 10 kills and 10 digs. Pressgrove served four points and had one ace serve. Karsten had four set assists.
Beaderstadt served 12 points and had one ace serve, and Vander Pol had three service points. At the net, Karsten put down nine kills, followed by six from Ventling and five from Vander Pol.
Bleeker made two solo blocks, and Beaderstadt had one solo block. Ventling had a block assist. Karsten had six digs and Ventling had three digs.
The Cardinals improved to 20-9 overall — four away from the team-record 24 match wins. Newton has two more conference matches to play.
They are a win out of first place in the Little Hawkeye Conference. Pella beat Knoxville 25-20, 25-18, 25-17 Tuesday to go 5-0 in conference play. Oskaloosa upended Dallas Center-Grimes 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 and Pella Christian beat Norwalk 25-19, 25-16, 25-15. Dallas Center-Grimes and Knoxville are 3-1, while Grinnell and Pella Christian are 2-3 in LHC action. Oskaloosa is 1-4 and Norwalk dropped to 0-4.
Newton travels to Oskaloosa next Tuesday.
Newton’s junior varsity volleyball team dropped a 25-14, 25-17 decision Grinnell.
The Cardinal freshman team claimed a 24-26, 26-19, 15-9 win over the Tigers.
For the NHS freshmen, Emma Meyer went 14-of-14 at the service line with six ace serves plus had five kills at the net. Elizabeth Coyle was 14-of-15 serving with four aces and had four set assists.
Morgan Allen delivered 10 kills for the freshmen, and was 7-for-7 in serve receive. Courtney Jacobsen had two service aces. Taylor Shipley was credited with 18 set assists, and Bailey Davis had three kills.