Maize South sweeps to clinch title

Mark Schnabel
Newton freshman libero Abby Koontz digs out a ball during play Tuesday against Maize South. Newton finished the day 1-1.

The night belonged to the Maize South volleyball team in an Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I triangular at Ravenscroft Gym.

The Mavericks downed Hutchinson 23-25, 25-12, 25-17; and Newton 22-25, 25-23, 25-16.

Newton downed Hutchinson 25-13, 25-15 to get the split.

Maize South improves to 24-6, 10-1 in AVCTL-I play, to clinch the league title in the Mavericks’ first year in the division.

“I thought we had some really great rallies,” Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. “There were some really long rallies. We were winning some of those, which we weren’t earlier in the season. We’re continuing to get better. Both of those teams are tipping a lot. Before, we would have gotten beat on those more than we are now. We made some adjustments with that.”

Newton jumped out 13-4 in the first set against Hutchinson, taking advantage of Salthawk hitting errors. After a time out, Hutchinson made a 3-0 run, but the Railers regained their stride for the set.

Down 5-4 in the second set, Newton made a 5-0 run to prompt a time out. After a 3-0 Hutch run, Newton pulled away 14-9 to force the final Salthawk time out of the set. The Railers were able to hold on for the match.

Gracie Rains led the Railers with 14 kills, followed by Asha Regier with 12 and Marah Zenner with five. Regier downed two blocks. Regier served four aces. Zenner set 28 assists. Abby Koontz had 10 digs.

Maliyah Johnson led Hutchinson with three kills and a downed block. Mya Thompson added three kills. Colleen Page scored two kills with a downed block. Kaitlin Yoder posted two aces.

Newton trailed Maize South by as many as five in the first set. The Railers tied it 20-20, going on a 5-2 run to end it.

Newton fell behind 9-3 in the second set. The Railers chipped away at their deficit, overcoming some hitting errors to tie it 16-16. Newton took a 19-18 lead, but gave up a 3-0 run. Newton came back with a Regier spike and an Olivia Antonowich ace to tie it at 21-21. Maize South took a time out and Newton gave up a serving error and a hitting error. Newton held off one set point, but Mallory Pruitt tipped the ball over to force a third set.

Newton jumped out 6-2 in the third set, but gave up a 7-0 run. Railer hitting errors hampered any comeback attempt.

“We’re trying to match up with what they have,” Dibbens said. “If they have a good hitter outside, we’re changing up to try and match up with the block. If the pass isn’t perfect at the net, we have to keep going to the outside. Maize South did a good job blocking, especially in the second and third set. We got caught a couple times with the people who needed to cover. They were there, but they weren’t really down and ready like they needed to be.”

For Maize South, Avery Lowe had seven kills and five downed blocks. Laurel Jones had eight kills and three downed blocks. Gracie Morrow had nine kills and a downed block. CeCe Young had five kills.

Regier had 24 kills for Newton, followed by Rains with 10. Each downed a block. Regier had 16 digs. Marah Zenner set 32 assists and served two aces.

Hutchinson and Maize South stayed close throughout the first set. Hutchinson pulled away to lead 19-16 and again 23-19, before finally pulling out the set.

Hutchinson fell behind 13-6 in the second set. Hutchinson managed just six points the rest of the way.

Hutchinson took a 5-4 lead in the third set, but gave up an 8-1 run. Maize South was never threatened from there.

Morrow led Maize South with seven kills and four downed blocks. Lowe scored seven kills and three downed blocks. Jones scored eight kills. Pruitt scored six kills. Morrow served three aces. Riley Kennedy served two aces.

For Hutchinson, Morgan Meier scored 10 kills. Page scored seven kills and two downed blocks. Thompson scored four kills. Johnson scored two kills and two downed blocks. Yoder served three aces.

“At times, it just seemed like we couldn’t find momentum tonight,” Hutchinson coach Maria Aikins said. “It was like ‘one-and-done, one-and-done.’ That’s hard to keep the momentum up when you make a big play, but then give one up to the other team. It shows we need to bring a lot of energy. We’re good when we bring energy. We’re good when we bring momentum. We just have to find that consistently. They served aggressive and that kept us from swinging at the ball. That’s part of it. When they serve aggressive, our serve receive needs to step up, so our setter isn’t running around everywhere.”

Hutchinson is 18-12, 5-6 in league play. Hutchinson ends the regular season Tuesday at Maize.

“Our league is really neck and neck,” Aikins said. “It comes down to how this game against Maize goes, if it bumps us back up to third or fourth (in the league). We’re competitive, the players are competitive and the coaches are competitive. We have a really good league this year. It’s great for our area. It’s great that we have good volleyball and our league’s competitive. That’s how it should be. In the past, everyone knew who the dominant team was. It was ‘let’s play hard.’ Now it’s like, ‘let’s really play hard. Everyone is a winnable game.’”

Newton is 18-10, 4-7 in league play, and hosts Andover and Campus on Tuesday to end the regular season.

“We have beat those teams, but it’s been in tournaments,” Dibbens said. “We just came off beating Maize South, but that was in a tournament. That hasn’t transferred in the league.”

Newton tri

Newton def. Hutchinson 25-13, 25-15

Maize South def. Hutchinson 23-25, 25-12, 25-17.

Maize South def. Newton 22-25, 25-23, 25-16

Newton sophomore Lana Mayfield gets the call up to varsity during Tuesday's triangular against Hutchinson and Maize South.