STERLING – The Newman volleyball team was cruising right from the start in each set of its 25-10, 25-10 win over Hall on Thursday.
The Comets (20-3-1, 11-0) got off to a quick start with a 4-1 lead in the first set of the Three Rivers East matchup, then claimed the first three points of the second set against the Red Devils.
“We just had to have a quick start and good momentum to drive,” Newman’s Kennedy Rowzee said. “I wanted to push those first couple points to make a statement, especially with the little girls being around, I wanted to show them that they could be really good.”
Newman had 10 kills from Rowzee to go with seven from Jess Johns and six from Ally Clevenger. Katie Grennan had 13 assists, while Shae McNeill dished out eight.
“We really just focused on getting back to pounding the ball up front,” Newman coach Debbi Kelly said. “They’ve been working on trying some different plays, and ran some of that, but really focused on getting better passing up to the front so we can get back to what we were doing at the beginning of the season, just pounding the ball and putting the ball away.”
There was a stretch in the second set where Newman alternated kills from Rowzee and aces from Clevenger. Johns followed up that stretch with a pair of kills.
“We can’t have them expect something, we try to move it around,” Rowzee said. “It really threw them off, and I think we did a really good job of that.”
Hall (7-19, 1-9), playing for the first time since its win over Mendota on September 28, suffered through some communication errors as well as some hitting miscues.
“We just didn’t play our defense. They weren’t ready,” Hall coach Darcy Early said. “We practiced it, but they didn’t come in ready. We’ve been off a week and a half and we had a huge win against Mendota, and I gave them the game plan and they didn’t follow it.”
Newman opened the first set with kills from Clevenger and Rowzee before an ace from Katie Grennan. After a hitting error, Rowzee hit back-to-back kills and Clevenger added an ace to make it 7-2. A Paige Grennan ace highlighted another Comets run to make it 10-8.
Hall responded with a kill from Kierra Wozniak before a slew of miscues cost the Devils the next five points.
By that point Johns got going, picking up kills on three of the next four points, interrupted only by a kill from Hall’s Clara Jablonski.
Johns was able to get several good swings in both sets from the back row.
“It depends on where the serve-receive is coming from,” Johns said. “Our setters, their sets are right where they need to be.”
Newman closed out the first set with Clevenger and Rowzee alternating kills for four straight points.
“Throughout the whole season, we’ve always had a balanced hitting attack,” Johns said. “In games we’ve been successful in, we spread things around.”
In the second set, the Comets got kills from Johns and Clevenger to get off to another quick start, eventually jumping out to a 14-3 lead.
The teams traded miscues, with a double-hit call going against Hall making it 20-7. After a kill from Clevenger, Johns served back-to-back aces, making it 24-8. Hall extended things with a Jen Casford kill and a Newman error, but the Comets finished things off when McNeill tipped it over for the final point.