For eight years, Newton Senior High’s Cardinals have played in the Little Hawkeye Conference. Finally in 2013, the NHS volleyball program netted its first-ever Little Hawkeye Conference championship.
The Cardinals landed seven players on the all-conference honors list, released this week. They had two unanimous selections on the first team, along with two more players on the second team and three players garnering honorable mention.
Newton senior Michaela Bleeker and freshman Megan Pressgrove along with Pella Christian senior Lauren Jungling were the unanimous selections to the 2013 All-Little Hawkeye Conference first-team volleyball squad. Pella Christian junior Becca Gritters also was named to the first team.
Others on the LHC first-team volleyball squad were Pella senior Taelor Rempe and sophomore Makenna Bogaard, Dallas Center-Grimes sophomore Selena Nolte and Grinnell seniors Anneliese Wiltfang and Regan Sharp.
Newton seniors Jennifer Ventling and Holly Vander Pol were named to the LHC second team. Pella Christian’s junior Alyssa Starkey was on the second team also.
Newton seniors Kacy Cazett, Amber Karsten and Bailey Beaderstadt received honorable mention from the LHC coaches.
The conference championship came down to the final match of the conference season. Newton upended Pella on Senior Night to net the 2013 LHC title. Both teams finished at 6-1 in the conference. The Cardinals set a school record, winning 26 matches this season. They were 26-13.
For the second year in a row, Bleeker not only led Newton in kills but was the Little Hawkeye Conference leader with 387 kills. Bleeker, a 6-foot outside hitter, garnered her second straight LHC first-team selection. Bleeker was 944-of-1,115 attacks at the net. She finished sixth in kills in Class 4A.
Bleeker also led the Cardinals with 53 service aces, which was second in the conference and 15th in Class 4A. She went 265-of-296, 89.5 percent, at the service line.
Bleeker was the team leader in digs with 252, which was 14th in the conference. Bleeker had six solo blocks at the net and nine assisted blocks.
Bleeker amassed 908 kills in three seasons for the Cardinals. She had 151 service aces over those seasons. Bleeker finished with 784 digs in three seasons.
Pressgrove made an impact for the Cardinals as a 5-10 freshman setter and outside hitter. She led the team with 492 set assists, finishing fourth in the conference. Pressgrove also put down 110 kills — third on the team — and made three solo blocks and 28 block assists at the net.
On a team that led the Little Hawkeye Conference in service aces, Pressgrove used her jump serve to go 205-of-245 at the service line, 83.7 percent, and had 38 aces. She was third on the team and ninth in the conference service aces. She had 109 digs.
Ventling, a 5-10 middle blocker, and Vander Pol, a 5-7 outside hitter, were second-team all conference selections. Ventling earned honorable mention as a junior and Vander Pol repeats as a second-team selection.
Ventling missed out on 24 of the team’s 101 sets played this season with an early season ankle injury. She finished with 74 kills, four solo blocks and 23 assisted blocks at the net.
Ventling was a 95.8 percent server with 12 aces this season. She had 22 digs.
Vander Pol was second on the team in kills with 172 this season, which was 12th in the Little Hawkeye. She finished with 342 kills in three seasons for the Cardinals.
Vander Pol rang up 36 ace serves, fourth on the team, while going 347-of-378 at the service line (91.8 percent). In three years, she had 132 service aces.
Vander Pol’s 243 digs were second on the Newton team and 16th in the conference. She had 606 digs in her three years on the varsity.
Cazett was the Cardinals’ 5-2 libero this season. She finished third on the team in digs with 220, finishing with 473 digs in her three-year run on the NHS varsity. She was a 90.4 percent server with three service aces. She had four kills.
Beaderstadt was a top server for the Cardinals, 360-of-383 for 94 percent at the service line. She was second in service aces with 43, which was sixth in the Little Hawkeye. The 5-9 middle blocker had five solo blocks and 26 block assists and 75 kills. She had 29 digs.
Karsten finished fourth on the team in kills with 108 and had six block assists. The 5-7 outside hitter was a 93-percent server, 316-of-341, and had 23 aces. She had 32 set assists and 171 digs.
PELLA CHRISTIAN turned things around after a 2-11 start this season to finish 19-16. The Eagles went 3-4 in Little Hawkeye Conference play.
Jungling, who missed sets early in the season with an injury, was a first-team selection as a setter and outside hitter. She was fifth in the conference with 441 set assists. She had 102 kills, two solo blocks and 10 block assists at the net.
Jungling led the Little Hawkeye with 55 service aces, going 326-of-352 at the service line for 92.6 percent. She also had 148 digs.
Gritters earned first-team honors as the Eagles’ leader in kills with 259, which was second in the conference. The outside hitter made eight solo blocks and 13 assisted blocks. She had 25 service aces and 140 digs.
Taking second-team honors was Starkey as the Eagles’ junior libero. She led the team with 417 digs, which was second in the conference. She had 12 kills a the net and served up 20 aces, while serving at a 91.6-percent clip (228-of-249).