Newton's volleyball team got down 7-0 in the opening set against Class 4A No. 10 Dallas Center-Grimes on Tuesday night, and the Cardinals struggled with consistency the rest of the way.
Newton improved by each set, but the Mustangs swept the Cardinals inside their gym 25-13, 25-18, 25-20.
It was DCG's 11th straight win. The Mustangs won the Little Hawkeye Conference regular season with a 7-0 record.
"It's been the same thing all season. It's the consistency with what we do," Newton head coach Kim Florke said. "I keep waiting for that night where everyone starts to click and we get on a roll. It could happen, but it might not ever happen, too. I think we are really close."
Florke called just two timeouts in the three-set match. The first one came when the third set was tied at 9-all.
"Sometimes, you can say too much. We are at the point of the season where they know what they are doing wrong," Florke said. "I don't need to harp on it and make it worse. I wanted to let them go and see how they reacted."
DCG (12-3 overall, 7-0 in the LHC) jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first set, and the closest the Cardinals got the rest of the way was four.
Kynnedei Terpstra had two of her five kills in the set and two of Tess Brunsmann's three kills also came in the opening game.
The Cardinals (12-14, 1-6) started the final two sets much stronger than the first one.
Newton led 2-0 in the second set on kills by Brunsmann and Kadance Ahn and a Brunsmann ace made it 7-4. DCG rallied to tie it but a Riley Davidson bump and Terpstra kill made it 9-7.
It went back-and-forth until DCG used a 3-0 run to go up 17-12 and and another 3-0 spurt to push it to 20-15.
A pair of kills by Meg Callaghan trimmed Newton's deficit to four two different times, but DCG outscored the Cardinals 3-1 down the stretch to close it out.
"We have to stay aggressive and cut down on our mistakes," Florke said. "Our big thing today was missing serves. I think we missed four in the second set alone."
Three aces by Kate Callaghan helped Newton to a 4-0 lead in the final set. The Cardinals stayed ahead 5-2 on a kill by Jerrica McGuire and led 7-3 after an ace by Ahn.
DCG turned a 9-5 deficit into a 10-9 lead. That led to the first Newton timeout of the match.
The set was tied at 10, 11, 12 and 13 before DCG created a bit of a separation. The Mustangs held a small lead throughout the rest of the set before scoring the final four points to win by five.
Kate Callaghan led the Cardinals with 20 assists, seven digs, three aces and two kills.
Meg Callaghan, Ahn and Terpstra each had five kills and Ahn and Terpstra recorded a team-best nine digs. Ahn served up a pair of aces.
The Cardinals were 44-of-52 in serves. Kate Callaghan was a perfect 13-of-13 and Brunsmann served 6-of-6. Meg Callaghan was 8-of-9.
Newton and DCG play in the LHC tournament on Thursday in Indianola. Then it's off to the postseason for the Cardinals.
They open 4A Region 6 play at No. 11 Clear Creek-Amana (25-6) at 7 p.m. on Oct. 22.
"We are close. If we can get on a roll, we can beat a team like this," Florke said. "I can't believe Clear Creek-Amana would be any better than these guys."
Notes: Katie McConnell finished with six digs, Davidson had three digs, Brunsmann put down three kills and McGuire finished with two kills. ... DCG has not lost a match since losing to three 5A schools in August. Those three losses came against top 10 ranked teams. ... Florke said Indianola plans to use the middle school for the conference tournament to help with spacing out the fans.