Girls volleyball: New addition Adrianna Larson helps Newark past Seneca in straight sets

Newark Seneca logos together

SENECA – Perennial small-school volleyball power Newark possesses a bunch of talent year after year for the past two decades.

The Norsemen got even richer and stronger with the addition of junior outside hitter Adrianna Larson into an already solid starting lineup.

Larson – who transferred from Yorkville – produced a match-leading seven kills and two service aces in her first game with the Norsemen to help lead Newark to a 25-18, 25-22 victory over the Fighting Irish on Monday evening in Seneca.

“This is a different environment playing now for Newark, and I’ve never played the position as a hitter much because I’ve always been a setter for my club,” Larson said, “It was so good for me to come in and contribute so well with my new team. I just love it.”

“It was so good for me to come in and contribute so well with my new team. I just love it.”

—  Adrianna Larson, Newark volleyball

The Norsemen (3-0) got contributions from all-state setter Lauren Ulrich (13 assists, three aces). Stalwart veteran Kiara Wesseh delivered six kills, eight points and two aces, while Kodi Rizzo and Addi Ness each added four kills helped by Elle Norquist’s game-best nine digs.

But it was Larson’s addition to the powerful Class 1A lineup that proved noteworthy for the Norsemen.

“Adrianna [Larson] is a very nice piece to an already strong group, where she plays all six rotations,” Newark coach P.J. McKinny said. “We kind of threw her into the mix right away against a very good Seneca team tonight, and she handled herself incredibly well, fitting in during her first match on the varsity level.”

Seneca (4-3) fought and received strong efforts from Faith Baker and Audry McNabb, who had four kills each. Alyssa Zellers added 12 digs, while Lainie Olson had 10 assists and three aces.

But the Irish just couldn’t solve the Norsemen and their new addition.

“We hung in there for the most part against some tough serving from a very tough team to beat year in and year out,” Seneca coach Noah Champene said. “Now they seem to have some new and talented players they can count on, which makes them even more of a challenge. But I was so proud of our effort tonight.”

The first set was tight, with Newark up 16-13, before Ulrich reeled off three consecutive service points and two aces to put the Norsemen ahead 19-13. Rizzo would eventually add a middle kill to put Newark ahead 23-16 before Larson blistered home a left-side dagger a point before Rizzo closed out the first set with another middle winner on set point.

“When you have an all-state setter [Ulrich] like we have on a team like this, it makes it easy to put down some big kills,” Rizzo said. “The one Lauren gave me to close out the opening game was perfect.”

Seneca was at its best in the second set, as Baker’s middle blast found the court to pull within 17-16. But Larson powered two more left-side winners down the stretch, and Wesseh closed out the match with back-row winner that caromed off the net cord and fell for the Newark victory.

“I wasn’t expecting to get a chance from the back row like that,” Wesseh said. “But to close out a match like that with it just getting over was pretty nice, especially against a tough team like Seneca.”

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky

Bill Lidinsky is an award-winning sports journalist and the recipient of the Illinois Coaches Association 2016 Sportsperson of the Year Award for his softball expertise and coverage.