Newton High’s volleyball team is a work in progress. Despite a 3-17 record, the Cardinals head into Saturday’s Newton Cardinal Invitational with high expectations.
“Our girls have worked tremendously hard this season and have made vast improvements. Currently, we lead the Little Hawkeye Conference in serve efficiency,” Newton head coach Ashley Carter said.
The Cardinals finished second in the 2016 Cardinal Invitational. It was the first time since 2012 that Newton played in its home tournament championship match and the Cardinals were 6-14 last year before their home tournament action.
Newton knocked off five-time defending Cardinal Invitational champion Harlan last year. The Cardinals lost to Pella in the title match.
Harlan and Pella return to the field of eight teams for the 2017 Cardinal Invitational. Joining those three teams are Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Boone, Carlisle, Ottumwa and newcomer Grand View Christian. Grand View Christian replaces Des Moines North in the tournament.
“The group that we have coming to this tournament is a nice mix of ability level and school size,” Carter said. “We always look forward to the Cardinal Invitational and playing teams we won’t otherwise get to play.”
Action begins at 8:30 a.m. with pool play Saturday at Newton High School. There are two four-team pools.
Teams in Pool A, which are Newton, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Grand View Christian and Boone, play in the NHS upper gym. Pool B — Carlisle, Harlan, Pella and Ottumwa— will be in the NHS lower gym.
Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for students.
The top two teams in each pool advance to championship pool matches to be played in the upper gym. The bottom two teams in each pool advance to consolation pool play in the NHS lower gym.
There is a 30-minute break between the conclusion of pool play and start of championship-consolation round matches.
At the net, senior Alexis Hoffman leads the Cardinal attack with 79 kills, 13 solo blocks and 12 assisted blocks. Seniors Aubrey Lucas and Rachel Berkland have 62 kills and 49 kills, respectively.
Senior Lucy Lilienthal has 41 kills, eight solo blocks and nine assisted blocks. Madison Bleeker, another senior, has put down 30 kills and put up six solo blocks and 13 assisted blocks.
Freshman setter Kate Callaghan is credited with 250 set assists. She also had 37 kills and 65 digs. Senior libero Carter Lee has 193 digs to lead the team with Berkland in second with 77 digs. Lucas and senior Harlie Durr have 66 and 62, respectively.
Newton serves at a 93-percent clip as a team, 669-of-719, and has 83 ace serves. Callaghan has 22 ace serves followed by Lucas with 21, Durr with 14 and Hoffman with 12. All four players serve at 90 percent or above.
“My expectation as a coach is always the same — every girl playing their hardest and focusing on the little things. When every player focuses on her role, the whole picture can come together. We have a very cohesive team that loves to work, and play together,” Carter said.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or email@example.com