Voleyball: Newman def Hall 25-12, 25-15
STERLING – Extended scoring runs and capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes are common threads that intertwine successful volleyball teams, and Newman showed it could do both Tuesday night at home.
The Comets breezed through an easy first set against visiting Three Rivers East foe Hall, and buckled down when they needed to in the second to seal a 25-12, 25-15 victory.
The win was Newman’s 20th of the season (20-4), and pushed its record in TRAC East action to 10-0.
Erin Kelly started the match with five straight service points for the Comets – capped by an ace. Aidan Brown sprinkled in three kills early on, and a kill by Hannah McCarty made it 8-2 Newman and forced a Hall timeout.
The Lady Devils (5-19, 1-8) scored three straight points to cut their deficit to 11-7, but several errors added up to make it 18-9 Comets.
“We played them really tough at our place,” Hall coach Demi Salazar said. “It’s not that you have to play perfect, but you have to have targets. We were just off a tick. Some of the hits we had aren’t common for us, but that’s somewhat due to a lack of height on the outside.”
Brown’s sixth kill of the set came off a free ball after a hard serve by Savannah Skinner. An ace by Skinner forced set point, and another Hall hitting error ended the first set.
Baylei Ferris’ ace gave Newman a quick 6-2 lead in the second set, but Megan Bernardoni’s ace cut the deficit to 8-6.
“They never give up, which is awesome,” Salazar said. “Our defense played pretty well, but you can only hold up for so long.”
Gertie Savitch served up an ace to keep the Red Devils within striking distance down 10-8, as the visitors started to target Brown at the service line.
“That motivated me to hit the ball a little harder,” Brown said. “I want something to make me do better. I like to take that role, and I trust myself in doing it.”
A net error by Newman trimmed its lead to just one up 12-11, forcing a timeout by head coach Debbi Kelly.
“I thought the first set we played pretty hard, but the second set we were back on our heels,” Debbi Kelly said. “It was us not playing to our potential, walking through the motions. We can’t be making those mistakes at this time of the year. They were giving effort, but weren’t full speed.”
The Comets flipped the switch down the stretch to put away the match. Elle Koerner thought she was saving the ball with a second touch, but her volley turned into a perfectly-placed assist after Brown slammed a kill to make it 14-12 Newman and force another Hall timeout.
Macaire Brown hammered a kill after a series of free balls by both teams, McCarty picked up a stuff block, and two Red Devil hitting errors made it 19-13 Comets. A kill each by the Brown sisters and two more Hall errors made it 23-13.
After two Red Devil points, Sierra Williams finished the match with a pair of stuff blocks.
In all, Newman out-hit Hall 25-11. Aidan Brown registered 11 kills and four digs, while Macaire Brown had five kills and two assists. McCarty and Kiley Sanders combined for seven kills, three blocks and three digs, while Williams added a team-high four blocks for the Comets. Bre Rosengren chipped in two kills and two blocks.
“Kiley has done a nice job across from Aidan,” Debbi Kelly said. “Our middles Sierra, Bre and Josie Rank have come along in getting some tips and putting down some kills. And then Hannah and Macaire on the opposite sides have done a nice job getting their kills at moments.”
The Comets’ coaching staff was also pleased with defenders setting up the offense, as well as reacting quickly to several blocks by the Red Devils. Madison Craft dished out 11 assists, Skinner was in the right spot for a match-high 14 digs, and Ferris hustled for six digs.
Savitch did a little bit of everything for Hall, finishing with eight assists, four digs, two kills and an ace. Bernardoni added three kills, three blocks, ace and a dig. Hayleigh Brokaw and Zoey Morris each had two kills, while Ella Hollinger had four blocks. Maddie Hultz (12), Payton Kerper (10) and Hannah Pante (5) combined for 27 digs.