OSKALOOSA — Newton’s Cardinals have what they wanted. They will play for the Little Hawkeye Conference championship at home next Tuesday.
The Cardinals swept host Oskaloosa in a three-set conference match Tuesday night. The 25-21, 27-25, 25-9 win put Newton at 5-1 in LHC play and 21-9 overall. Pella defeated Norwalk, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-19, to go 6-0 in the conference and 20-14 overall.
“We knew going into this match that because it was Okaloosa’s Senior Night, they would be fired up and ready to play,” said Kim Florke, Newton head coach. “They didn’t disappoint. They really battled us for the first two sets.
“We knew if we could maintain our composure, they would run out of gas. We saw that in the third set with an easy win.”
So, on Senior Night next Tuesday, Class 4A 15th-ranked Cardinals host the 4A 12th- ranked Pella Little Dutch in a Little Hawkeye Conference showdown. The varsity match is at 7:15 p.m. in the NHS gym.
Before they get there, the Cardinals have to focus on Saturday’s tournament at Johnston.
“We look forward to going to Johnston Saturday and playing and competing in a very tough tournament,” Florke said. “We play Dowling Catholic, West Des Moines Valley and Green County in pool play. We want to use this tournament to continue to get better as a team.
Against Oskaloosa, Florke said in the second set Newton lost a really long rally for Oskloosa to go up 18-15. She said she called her final timeout at 20-15.
“The kids really battled and fought back to 27-25. That was a nice win for the kids,” she said.
The Cardinals didn’t disappoint, either. Little Hawkeye Conference kill leader Michaela Bleeker went 32-of-38 on attacks and delivered 14 kills Holly Vander Pol knocked down nine kills and Megan Pressgrove had eight kills.
Jennifer Ventling and Amber Karsten each had six kills on the night. Bailey Beaderstadt had one kill. Bleeker made one solo block at the net, and Ventling and Pressgrove each had a block assist.
Pressgrove was credited with 26 set assists, going 78-of-84 setting the ball for the Cardinals. Bleeker had three assists. Beaderstadt and Karsten had one assist apiece.
Newton had 10 service aces as a team. Vander Pol had four ace serves while Bleeker, Ventling and Pressgrove each had two aces. The Cardinals had a strong night at the service line. They combined for a 67-of-73 night on serving attempts.
Bleeker came up with 15 digs followed by Vander Pol with 13. Kacy Cazett had nine digs and Pressgrove had six digs. Beaderstadt had three digs, Karsten had two and Ventling had one dig.
“It was a tournament atmosphere with a loud crowd and long rallies,” Florke said of Tuesday’s match at Oskaloosa. “We are happy to come out on top. It gives us that chance to win a conference championship next Tuesday at home against Pella.”
The Newton freshmen defeated Oskaloosa 26-24, 26-28, 15-5.