Railers drop state match in three sets
The return to state play for the Newton High School volleyball team was short-lived under the format KSHSAA came up with this season, falling to Bishop Carroll in three sets Tuesday in the quarterfinal round at Ravenscroft Gym.
Newton fell to the fourth-ranked (Class 5A, Kansas Volleyball Association) Golden Eagles 25-14, 25-9, 25-12.
“We started off (well), but then we weren’t able to score off our serve,” Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. “We weren’t able to push points and get momentum. It was a long night by trying to generate momentum, but trying to do that without scoring off your serve is pretty much impossible, especially against a team like Carroll, which is very good and very well rounded.”
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, KSHSAA changed the state format to the quarterfinal round being played as a college-style, best-of-five-set match. The four winners advance to a three-match round robin Saturday, followed by a championship and third-place match.
Tuesday’s match-ups were geographically based and not seeded. This allowed Newton to return home for one more match. Newton was supposed to host last weekend’s sub-state, but that was moved to Andover Central because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I would have rather finished it here with all of our fans here,” Dibbens said. “It was pretty fortunate for us that we were able to bring a quarterfinal match to Newton. There were lots of times this season that I wondered if we would be able to get to state, but our girls kept believing in each other. We fought through a lot of hard things with a lot of different lineups. It shows that we are a really good team.”
“I really like this format,” Newton senior Asha Regier said. “It gives you a chance to come back if you’re down. You still have another chance to win.”
Riley Daugherty led 25-2 Carroll with 13 kills. Ella Larkin had 11 kills and a downed block. Ashton George had six kills. Tori Brake served two aces.
Regier led Newton with 10 kills. Gracie Rains added four. Regier downed two blocks. Teagan Livesay scored Newton’s sole ace. Abby Koontz had eight digs. Marah Zenner set 14 assists.
“I’ve been preparing myself for what would be my last game,” Regier said. “I didn’t want it to be tonight. It always has to be an upset for somebody unless you win it all. I just wish high school volleyball would never end.”
Tied 8-8 in the first set, Carroll made a 7-0 run. Newton managed just six points for the rest of the set.
Tied 2-2 in the second set, Newton gave up an 11-2 run and never recovered.
Newton fell behind 9-4 in the third set. A Newton point was taken away after a Railer spike hit a Carroll player, hit the rafters and went into the stands. A replay was a called and Carroll won the subsequent point. Newton was able to trade points from there, but never gain any ground.
Newton ends the season 23-12. Carroll snaps a five-match winning streak for the Railers. Newton ended the season winning five of the last 12.
“When we had a bunch of injuries, and then with COVID, we had to make a bunch of adjustments,” Regier said. “I definitely did not think we’d make it to state at all. It was just fighting through it, overcoming and working hard every day to get here. Our game against Andover (in the sub-state finals) was one of the funnest games I’ve been a part of. I have a couple of teammates from club on that team, so it was extra special. That was one of my favorite games.”
“I told the seniors, they’ve been a part of this program for four years and made it to state three years,” Dibbens said. “There are people that dream about getting to state for one year. We have to celebrate that success with the seniors. We have to hope it makes the other players hungry to come back and work hard in the off-season. We can’t lose fact that we finished in the top eight.”
Newton loses five seniors.
“Big shoes to fill with some our youngsters,” Dibbens said. “Our underclassmen, and even our three juniors, they love the game. They love to compete. I’m excited for what we bring back, but we’re losing a heck of a duo between Marah and Asha.”
Kills — Regier 10, G.Rains 4, Zenner 2, E.Rains 1.
Aces — Livesay 1.
Total blocks — Regier 2.
Digs — Koontz 8, G.Rains 6, O.Antonowich 4, Zenner 4, Regier 2, Mayfield 1, Livesay 1.
Assists — Zenner 14, Regier 1, Koontz 1.