Posting two victories in their first two matches of the 2015 season, Newton High’s Cardinals gained confidence Tuesday in the Newton Early Bird Volleyball Invitational. They went winless in their opening home tournament a year ago.
Newton powered past Knoxville’s Panthers 21-12, 21-5, then went three sets to claim a 21-18, 21-23, 15-8 win over Carlisle’s Wildcats.
The Cardinals had confidence facing Class 5A fourth-ranked Dowling, but had no answer for the Maroons’ big hitters losing 21-8, 21-13. Newton turned its attention to Class 4A 12th-ranked Adel-DeSoto-Minburn’s Tigers.
“The girls battled hard against ADM. They fought right to the final point,” Newton assistant coach Taylor Peska said. “It was a heartbreaker.”
Newton jumped out to a 4-2 lead on ADM before the Tigers roared back to gain a 10-8 edge. The Cardinals could not string points together serving the ball and dropped the first set, 21-16.
The Cardinals found themselves trailing the Tigers 9-5. They gained a point on defense, which put Kaytlin Ahn on the service line. Megan Pressgrove was up front working the net. The combination helped produce four straight points.
A kill by Emily Fitzgerald put the Cardinals up 11-10 and regained the serve. Adrienne Bergman came off the bench to ring up three points. Newton led ADM 15-12 when Pressgrove served four consecutive points — two came on a kill and a block by Taylor Shipley.
Fitzgerald downed another kill to stop a run by the Tigers as Newton’s lead was 20-17. It was a defensive tip by Shipley to give the Cardinals a 21-18 win in the second set.
The third set, which was to go to 15 or a team must win by two, was the set that wouldn’t end. The Cardinals and Tigers went back and forth. Newton had the serve up 13-11 with Fran Lucas on the service line. She served one point, but the Tigers did not yield the match point.
ADM had a three-point service run to make it 15-14, and Newton’s defense scored to tie the set. And that’s how it went until ADM gained a 20-19 advantage and served the final point. The Tigers won 21-16, 18-21 and 21-19.
Newton dropped a 21-13, 21-9 decision to Oskaloosa in the final match of the tournament.
“We were tired and stopped getting to where we needed to be on defense. We stopped talking to each other on the court,” Peska said of the Oskaloosa match.
Dowling rolled to another Newton Early Bird Invitational title with a 5-0 mark. ADM finished 4-1, losing 21-7, 21-12 to Dowling. Oskaloosa went 3-2 followed by Newton at 2-3. Carlisle was 1-4 on the night and Knoxville went 0-5.
Newton opened the season without head coach Laura Sherratt, who gave birth to her daughter Thursday and is on maternity leave. Sherratt is expected to be back coaching the team this season.
Lucas led the Cardinals at the service line with 25 points and four ace serves. Ahn served up 18 points and had two ace serves. Shipley had 17 service points and two aces while Pressgrove served for 12 points and and two aces.
Fitzgerald served for 10 points and had four aces. Bergman had seven points and one ace serve.
“We served well throughout the tournament,” Peska said. “We were giving them their zones and they were putting the serves where we wanted them. We started out well tonight. The girls were positive and upbeat and playing as a team. They were fun to watch.”
When Newton faced Dowling, Peska said Dowling had very good hitters. She said the Maroon hitters were able to place the ball right where the Cardinals weren’t.
The Cardinals had good net play by Pressgrove, Ahn, Shipley, Fitzgerald and Morgan Allen.
Pressgrove pounded down 29 kills and had one solo block and 10 assisted block. Ahn racked up 23 kills with two solo blocks and two assisted blocks at the net.
Fitzgerald downed eight kills and had three block assists while Shipley had six kills and two assisted blocks. Allen connected on two kills and had one solo block and two assisted blocks. Allison Ergenbright had an assisted block.
Pressgrove was credited with 32 set assists. Shipley had nine set assists while Carter Lee and Stephanie Hoebelheinrich each had one set assist.
Lucas put up 36 digs in the five matches, which included 17 against ADM. Ahn had 13 digs followed by Shipley with 12 digs and Audrey Lucas with eight. Fitzgerald and Hoebelheinrich each had two digs and Lee had one dig.
“We had key players doing their jobs well until the final match. We just couldn’t put it together against Oskaloosa,” Peska said. “We have to work on keeping our communication going on the court and moving well defensively.”
Peska along with assistant coaches Kristina McKnew and Michaela Wood shared the coaching duties for the night. The varsity plays in the ADM tournament Sept. 3.
Newton’s freshmen host a tournament Thursday.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or email@example.com