With a lot of new faces and a handful of veterans, the Newton High School volleyball team is still trying to learn to play together and that was evident during Tuesday’s season-opening triangular at Ravenscorft Gym.
Newton fell to ninth-ranked Garden City (KVA, Class 6A) 25-15, 25-14; and rallied to top Salina Central 18-25, 25-22, 25-18.
Garden City finished the sweep with a 25-13, 25-12 win over Salina Central.
“It was just trying to develop trust, figuring things out and who’s responsible for what,” Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. “When we had trust and were communicating, we were fun to watch and played really well together. We’re really young, but we’re not using that as an excuse. We have to keep building confidence. Our serve receive was really struggling tonight. We’re going to work a lot on it in practice. We’d have a second of hesitation, and that hesitation makes them not ready to handle the ball.
“Gracie Rains, a sophomore, played with a lot of confidence tonight. She played very consistent. I looked at Garden City’s roster and it was all seniors and a couple of juniors. Then you look at our roster and it’s a couple freshman, a couple of juniors and a couple sophomores. We’re young, but we’re not using that as an excuse.”
Newton jumped out 5-2 in the first set against Garden City, but the Buffaloes came back to take a 14-11 lead and force the first Railer time out. Garden City added an ace after the time out and allowed just four more points. Two Newton kills in the final run were called back for violations. Newton had six hitting or net violations to none for Garden City as Newton actually had nine kills in the set to eight for the Buffaloes. Garden City held a 5-1 edge in aces in the set.
The Railers missed their first three serves in the second set, falling behind 6-2. Newton closed to within one, but Garden City was able to pull away again for the match.
Karlin Reagan led Garden City with 10 kills, two downed blocks and three aces, eight kills in the second set. Julie Calzonetti added five kills. Allison Meng and Ashlyn Swann each had two kills and two downed blocks.
Rains led Newton with four kills. Asha Regier had three kills and a downed block. Lindsey Antonowich and Marah Zenner each had three kills. Rains served Newton’s sole ace.
“Reagan got loose on us in the second set,” Dibbens said. “She’s good and we knew she was going to get her kills. We tried moving our defense up, but she’s really good.”
Four errors and a violation against Salina Central put the Railers down 7-2 in the first set. After a time out, Newton continued to be plagued with errors. Newton got within five, 22-17, but only managed one more point in the set.
Newton jumped out 6-2 in the second set, but was hit with the error bug again. Trailing 13-11, Newton came back to tie 16-16. Tied 19-19, Newton scored the next two points and held Central off the rest of the way.
The Railers led 7-2 in the deciding set, prompting a Central time out. Again, the errors hampered the Railers, allowing Central to get back in the match. A Railer violation while receiving serve tied the game 12-12. Newton came back with a 4-0 run, allowing Central no closer than two points the rest of the way. Regier put down a pair of spikes for the last two points of the match.
Regier led Newton with 21 kills, followed by Gracie Rains with 10, Lindsey Antonowich with 10 and Marah Zenner with seven kills and a downed block. Olivia Antonowich served three aces, while Regier and Rains served two each.
Capri Myers led 0-3 Central with 10 kills. Kaylee Jones had seven kills. Trista Stevenson had three kills. Annika Free and Jones each served three aces. Makenzie Maring served two aces.
“We needed that for our confidence,” Dibbens said. “I think Central played very well. They were speedy and picked up a lot. More than anything, we needed to get that confidence.”
Down 8-6 in the first set against Central, Garden City made an 9-0 run and allowed just five more points. Central managed just three kills in the first set.
Garden City jumped out 8-3 in the second set and held on from there.
Karlin had nine kills, six in the first set. Swan had six kills and a downed block. Abby Ellerman had five kills. Calzonetti had four kills and a downed block. Meng had four kills. Abby Parr served four aces. Kelbi Richter had three.
Mackenzie Shea and Emily Kvasnicka each had two kills for Central. Ashley Matthews served an ace.
Newton competes Saturday at the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League pre-season tournament at the Salt Hawk Activity Center. Newton will face Derby, Maize South, Hutchinson, Liberal and Goddard Eisenhower.
“We played quite a few of the teams throughout the summer,” Dibbens said. “Hutch is very good. Derby is very good. Maize South is going to be good. It’s going to be tough. I’m not concerned where we are in week one. It’s going to be week to week, how much better are we getting.”
Garden City def. Newton 25-15, 25-14
Garden City Salina Central 25-13, 25-12
Newton def. Salina Central 18-25, 25-22, 25-18
Garden City def. Newton 21-25, 25-4, 15-13
Garden City def. Salina Central 25-21, 25-11
Newton def. Salina Central 25-23, 25-20