Doing the work when it counts has to be a team decision made by the players. Newton High’s Cardinals were down two sets to none in Tuesday’s Little Hawkeye Conference volleyball match against Grinnell’s Tigers.
“We realized we were a lot better than what we were playing tonight,” Newton senior Allison Ergenbright said. “When we came to that realization, our blocking got better, our hits got better, and we won.”
The Cardinals dug themselves out of a hole, rallying to defeat the Tigers in front of a home crowd. Newton claimed its first LHC win of the season, beating Grinnell 24-26, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-11.
“We wanted to win this one so bad. We had beaten Grinnell earlier this season, so we knew we could do it,” Cardinal senior libero Fran Lucas said. “We turned it on late and battled through being tired.”
Newton played five matches Saturday and three matches Monday in tournaments at Nevada and Roland-Story, respectively. They went 5-3 over those two days of action.
Newton had an opportunity to win the first set, rallying for two points for a 24-23 lead, but Grinnell got possession of the ball back and served the final two points. The second set was much the same in a back-and-forth affair. Newton was up 23-21 with the serve and lost 25-23.
“The girls did an unbelievable job of picking themselves up and coming back after losing the first two sets,” Newton coach Ashley Carter said. “The girls have to decided if they want to win matches and play well. They finally made that decision and got after it on the court.”
The Cardinals put together three five-point serving runs by Kaytlin Ahn, Megan Pressgrove and Fran Lucas to take control of the third set Tuesday. Taylor Shipley and Morgan Allen provided strong net work. It was Pressgrove ripping a kill for the set winner, 25-19, forcing a fourth set.
Shipley kept the serving streak going for Newton with a four-point start to the fourth set. It was back and forth just like the first two sets.
This time Newton did not relinquish a lead. It was up 14-12 when Ahn stepped to the serving line. With Pressgrove working the net, Ahn served eight consecutive points. Grinnell did have a little run, closing to 23-19, but Ergenbright set the ball for Pressgrove, who had a tip for a point.
Newton won the fourth set 25-19 with Pressgrove serving. Pressgrove racked up 21 kills, 20 set assists and 11 digs on the night. She served seven points — three were on ace serves.
Serving was a big factor in the deciding set, which went to 15 points. Down 3-2, the Cardinals had Allen at the serving line, and she produced three points, one on a Pressgrove kill.
Newton maintained its lead. Fran Lucas was served up three points, the final one coming on a Shipley kill. Ahn, who had 11 kills on the night, pounded down one to regain the serve and put Newton up 12-7.
The Tigers rolled up four straight points before the Cardinals halted the rally. Ahn, who finished with 19 service points, served up the final point for the 15-11 win.
“We just told them we were beating ourselves after the first two sets,” Newton coach Taylor Peska said. “We had just seen our players play great volleyball Saturday and Monday. We knew what they were capable of on the court. They came back and showed us that in the last three sets.”
Shipley ended up with nine kills and led the team with 23 set assists. She also had 11 digs and 11 service points, which included three aces. Emily Fitzgerald had three kills and three digs and Allen had two kills and three digs.
Fran Lucas served 11 points and had one ace, and she was credited with 22 digs. Audrey Lucas had 10 digs, five serves points and one ace. Adrienne Bergman served for four points and had two digs.
Allen put up two solo blocks and two assisted blocks at the net. Ergenbright and Ahn each had one solo block and one assisted block. Pressgrove and Shipley each had two assisted blocks and Fitzgerald had a solo block.
Newton improved to 14-14 on the season and 1-3 in conference play. The Cardinals use the rest of the week to prepare for Saturday’s NHS Cardinal Invitational.
“We going into it with a lot of confidence in ourselves as a team. We’re working to win it,” Fran Lucas said.
Grinnell won the junior varsity match, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11. Newton’s junior varsity plays in a tournament Saturday at BGM.
Newton lost the A-team freshman match 25-12, 25-13 with Tegan Simmons and Brittney McConnell with three kills and one ace serve apiece. Jazmin Chance had one kill. Mariah Wickliffe and Kyleigh Stevenson had one ace serve each.
The B-team freshman match was won by Grinnell 25-12, 25-14. Newton got one ace serve from Anna VanDam.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org