ANDOVER — Every time in practice, Newton has this drill where they go through, preparing as they are down late in the set. They go through it like clockwork, preparing for the pressures of a late set rally. On Saturday afternoon, it paid off.
On Saturday the Newton Railers rallied in the third set against top seeded Andover (25-22, 20-25, 25-21) to win the sub-state Championship in three sets by winning the game’s final four points.
"We work on that drill every day," Asha Regier said. "We knew what we had to do because coach had prepared us."
It also helped Newton (23-11) had beaten Andover (25-6) earlier in the week, so confidence was brimming.
"We knew we were going to get their best shot when we beat them on Tuesday," Newton head coach Jamie Dibbens said. "I’m proud of how we fought today."
After dispatching of Andover Central in the sub-state semifinals in straight sets, it set up the tough match against Andover, who beat Emporia in straight sets.
Newton wasted little time putting the Trojans on their heels, jump up early in the first set 5-1 before Andover finally was able to grab their bearings.
The Railers pushed out on a 6-2 run, giving themselves a 20-16 advantage in the first set. They close out strong, winning the first 25-22.
After dropping the second set, Newton once again pounced, going up 13-6 in the third set, mainly off the service of freshman libero, Abigail Koontz.
"When I saw her the first day in practice, I knew she was going to be starting varsity," Regier said. "It’s great having someone that can lead already like that."
Andover made a push, fighting back on six straight points and eventually took the lead 21-20, forcing a Newton into a timeout.
"We’ve been there before," Dibbens said. "We play in a really tough league and it’s prepared us for these situations."
Newton came out and set up Regier on a kill and then after Andover had been hitting soft shots to steal points, Newton adjusted and made the Trojans pay.
The Railers will now host fourth-ranked Bishop Carroll (24-2) in the quarterfinals at Newton on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The match will be best-of-five sets. The winner advances to a four-team pool Saturday at the Tony’s Pizza Event Center in Salina, followed by the semifinals and finals.
There will be limited attendance at both the quarterfinal match and at state.
"We’re excited," Regier said. "Just getting the opportunity to host that game is huge for us and we’ll be ready."