HUTCHINSON — The Newton High School volleyball team had a bit of a challenge from some teams at the lower end of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I standings, but came through to clinch a tie for the league title.
Newton downed Salina Central 25-18, 25-17; and Hutchinson 25-14, 25-14. Hutchinson edged Central 23-25, 25-23, 25-19.
Newton is 34-4 overall and 10-1 in AV-CTL I play. Hutchinson is 9-27, 2-9 in league play. Central is 10-20, 3-9 in league play.
“Early on, I just didn’t feel like we were playing together,” Newton coach Jamie Dibbens said. “One of the themes of our team this year is ‘Strong alone, unstoppable together.’ I talked to the girls about how we were not playing together. When we play at our best, that’s when we are unstoppable. We just had a hard time getting into our groove. We did a little better (against Hutchinson). Both of our opponents played well. They picked up a lot of what we were hitting at them and sending it back over. We need this week off to work on things in practice.”
“We just weren’t playing together as a unit,” Newton senior Kailey Harris said of the Central match. “We weren’t moving our feet. That progressively got better in that match and the next match.”
Harris finished the day with five aces serving.
“The coach always gives me a spot to serve it,” Harris said. “During practice, we need to serve at least three in a row of 38 mph or higher, so we practice that a lot every day.”
Senior Dawsyn Long served four aces for the day.
“The coaches told me to focus on my serve and have confidence,” Long said. “Everytime I go up to serve, I’m like ‘I got this.’ The coaches do a good job of giving me a lot of confidence. I just have to sit back and focus.”
Newton finished with 15 aces against five errors. The Railers didn’t give up an ace on the night.
“That’s good,” Dibbens said. “Passing is normally a strength for us. We have the same three back there almost all the time. When they are on, it helps us be successful.”
Newton finishes a stretch of eight matches in four days. On top of that, Harris was crowned homecoming queen Friday.
“It’s a part of being in high school and being an athlete,” Harris said. “You have to stay focused.”
“Even though we were tired, we had to stay focused,” Long said of the stretch. “We work hard to keep our energy up. We cheer each other on a lot.”
The Railers struggled with Central’s block early, falling behind 6-4 in the first set. After a time out, the Railers tied it up 6-6, only to fall behind 12-7. The Railers tied it up 13-13, only to fall behind 17-14 and force the final time out.
Newton tied the set 17-17 and forced Central’s first time out. Taylor Antonowich followed the time out with an ace. After a Central kill, Newton ran off three straight points to force the final Mustang time out. A Long ace after the time out allowed Newton to extend its run four more points for the set.
Newton trailed 3-1 in the second set, but came back to lead 14-11 and force a Central time out. The Railers allowed just six more points in the match.
“We were hitting right into (Central’s) block,” Dibbens said. “Early on, we didn’t cover very well, but we did better as the match went on.”
Emily Regier led the Railer attack with nine kills and a downed block. Kailey Harris added five kills, a downed block and served four aces.. Maggie Remsberg four kills and a downed block. Caroline Barger had four kills. Antonowich had three kills and a downed block.
For Central, Bayleigh Petty had eight kills and two downed blocks. Elisa Backes added two downed blocks.
Tied 4-4 in the first set against Hutchinson, Newton made a 10-4 run and never looked back.
Newton jumped out 11-5 in the second set, aided by two Long aces and five Hutchinson hitting errors. The Salt Hawks came back on the court and scored three straight points to get back in the set. Newton regrouped to take a 17-10 lead and force Hutchinson’s final time out. Newton allowed just four more points in the match.
Regier had five kills and a downed block for the Railers. Remsberg had four kills. Antonowich had three kills and a downed block. Megan Akers and Long served three aces each.
For Hutchinson, Lonna Porter had six kills, followed by Morgan Armbrust with four and Micah Tomac with three. Anna Deal downed two blocks.
Newton hosts Campus and Andover at 5 p.m. Tuesday for senior night. A win over Campus gives the Railers the league title outright.
“We still need some pride and win it outright next Tuesday,” Dibbens said. “We don’t want to share it. Campus has a really smart setter. She’s a coaches daughter. She plays really smart. We know what to expect from her. It will be nice for our seniors to play on our home court once more. If we could have a crowd like we had last Tuesday night, it would be amazing. Andover is very good. They are in the same sub-state we are. That is a good team to end it with.”
Hutchinson def. Salina Central 23-25, 25-23, 25-19
Newton def. Salina Central 25-18, 25-17
Newton def. Hutchinson 25-14, 25-14