The Newton High School volleyball team had an easy start to the Newton Invitational Saturday, but had a rough ending for a third-place finish. In pool play, Newton downed Salina South 25-11, 25-17, Andover Central 25-20, 25-22 and Hays 25-11, 25-12. To end pool play, Newton lost to fifth-ranked (Class 6A, Kansas Volleyball Association) Wichita Northwest 25-23, 25-23. In the semifinals, Newton fell to second-ranked (Class 4A) McPherson 22-25, 25-11, 25-23. In the third-place match, Newton downed Andale 25-20, 25-20. In the championship match, Northwest topped McPherson 25-20, 25-19. “I was very disappointed that we were playing (for third place),” Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. “We had some missed opportunities against Northwest. I think our second game against McPherson was a big letdown. In game one and game three, we played so tough the whole time. That slow start in game two made the difference.” In the first game of the semifinals, Newton jumped out 6-1. Leading 13-7, Newton gave up a five-point run to get the Bullpups back in the set. Tied 14-14, Newton made a 5-0 run. McPherson got as close as two points before the Railers ended the game on a Hiebert tip. McPherson jumped out 7-2 in the second set, forcing a Railer time out. Newton never recovered, falling behind 17-4. The two teams traded points the rest of the way to force a third set. In the deciding set, Newton jumped out 13-10, prompting a McPherson time out. McPherson came back to take a 17-16 lead and force a Newton time out. The Railers made the next rally to take a 22-21 lead. Down 23-22, McPherson made a 3-0 run for the match. For McPherson, Paige Regnier had 14 kills, followed by Katelyn Loecker with 13. Brianna Pontious had 10 kills and the sole downed block for the Bullpups. Tashley Snyder had eight kills. Regnier and Abby Pedersen each had two aces. For Newton, Emily Hiebert had 13 kills and two downed blocks. Abbie Lehman had 10 kills and four downed blocks. Jocelyn Cochran had Newton’s sole ace of the match. In the third-place match against Andale, Newton jumped out 4-0, but then gave up the next five points. Tied 19-19, Newton made a 6-1 run for the set. Newton fell behind 7-3 in the second set, but came back to take a 19-14 lead and force Andale to take a time out. Andale pulled within three before a Lehman spike and a Lehman-Kelsi Porter downed block ended the match. Hiebert had 10 kills and a downed block for Newton. Lehman had four hills and two downed blocks. Andrea Baron had three kills and two downed blocks. Hiebert, Jessica Motes and Megan Regier each served two aces. For Andale, Rachel Friedrichs had seven kills and two aces. “I told them before that game to clear your minds,” Dibbens said. “Don’t think about Mac and Northwest until the end of the day. We needed to concentrate on the Andale game and to finish with a win. I tried to challenge our seniors to take control of the game. The comeback in game two; the focus was to finish strong. It’s tough after two close matches. We did come out with a win, so I’m happy about that.” Newton opened the tournament with wins over Salina South, Andover Central and Hays to clinch a spot in the semifinals. Newton closed pool play with fellow tourney unbeaten Wichita Northwest to determine semifinal seeding. Newton jumped out 5-1 in the first set. Northwest kept coming within one and Newton kept getting out by two to three points. Down 17-14, Northwest made a 6-2 run to take its first lead. Newton held off two set points, but a misplayed tap went out of bounds on the third to give Northwest the game. Northwest had 10 kills to six for Newton. The Railers had five hitting errors to three for Northwest. Newton did have more downed blocks. Newton fell behind 3-1 in the second set, but pulled ahead 12-8. Northwest tied it 17-17. The two teams traded points until 23-23, where Northwest scored two points for the match. Shayla Cotman had seven kills and a downed block for Northwest. Darby Musselman had seven kills. Aliya Higginbotham had six kills and a downed block. Erika David and Kelsea Brittain each had two aces. For Newton, Hiebert had seven kills and a downed block. Lehman had five kills and five downed blocks. Lauren Duerksen had four kills and a downed block. Hiebert had two aces. “They’re solid,” Dibbens said. “They kept returning everything we were sending over. In game two, we were not putting the ball down consistently.” Newton is 18-6 and hosts Derby and Hutchinson at 5 p.m. today in Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I play. Newton is in a three-way tie with Salina Central and Maize at the top of the division standings. “Hutch is a much-improved team from year’s past,” Dibbens said. “Derby has a very good team. Every team is solid. This is the best it’s been from top to bottom in Division I. We need to make sure we’re playing consistent. ”
Newton Invitational Saturday Pool A — Wichita Heights def. Andale 25-22, 24-26, 25-23; Buhler def. Dodge City 25-17, 25-22; McPherson def. Wichita Heights 25-12, 25-23; Andale def. Buhler 19-25, 25-19, 25-19; McPherson def. Dodge City 25-11, 25-10; Wichita Heights def. Dodge City 21-25, 25-22, 25-14; McPherson def. Buhler 25-11, 25-12; Andale def. Dodge City 25-10, 26-24; Buhler def. Wichita Heights 24-26, 25-21, 25-22; McPherson def. Andale 25-16, 25-15. Pool B — Andover Central def. Hays 25-20, 25-18; Wichita Northwest def. Salina South 25-12, 25-11; Newton def. Salina South 25-11, 25-17; Newton def. Andover Central 25-20, 25-22; Wichita Northwest def. Hays 25-11, 25-17; Andover Central def. Salina South 25-19, 25-16; Newton def. Hays 25-11, 25-12; Wichita Northwest def. Andover Central 19-25, 25-12, 25-13; Salina South def. Hays 25-9, 25-22; Wichita Northwest def. Newton 25-23, 25-23. Semifinals — McPherson def. Newton 22-25, 25-11, 25-23; Wichita Northwest def. Andale 25-21, 25-17. Third place — Newton def. Andale 25-20, 25-20. Championship — Wichita Northwest def. McPherson 25-20, 25-19.