STERLING – The Newman volleyball team found itself in a nip-and-tuck first set, but pulled out that one and later cruised in the second set to a 25-20, 25-13 win over St. Bede on Tuesday.
The first set saw St. Bede take a 7-5 lead off back-to-back hitting errors before Newman reclaimed the lead, but the Bruins kept it fairly close throughout.
The second set saw the Comets jump out to an 18-9 lead, with many of the Bruins’ points coming on Newman errors.
“We just needed to pick up the momentum and work together,” Newman junior Aidan Brown said. “We had a little falling out in the beginning, but we brought it back together.”
Brown had 14 kills and five digs for the night, getting an early kill in the second set to put Newman ahead 3-2; the Comets led the rest of the way. Six St. Bede errors over the next 13 points helped Newman build a 13-6 lead, and kills by Bre Rosengren and Hannah McCarty on back-to-back points, followed by a pair of kills from Brown moments later, extended the lead.
Up 19-11, Newman scored five straight points, getting two Aidan Brown kills, a kill each from Macaire Brown and Sierra Williams, and an ace from Erin Kelly. St. Bede scored the next two points to stave off defeat for a moment, but Aidan Brown finished the set with a kill.
“We didn’t block her well enough,” St. Bede coach Karrie Damerell said. “We’ve got to find a way to get a touch on the ball and close up the block.”
Newman (7-3, 3-0 TRAC) had six kills from Macaire Brown, and Kiley Sanders added five.
The balance was because, as Aidan Brown said, the Comets were “mixing it up a lot, making the pace go faster.”
Helping diversify the attack was Madison Craft, who finished with 16 assists.
“The girls did a nice job of spreading the ball around using all the different players on the court,” Newman coach Debbi Kelly said. “We ran some different combination plays that seemed to work, and they did a nice job staying defensive and not getting too worked up if [St. Bede] got a sideout, just focused on the next point.”
Craft also came through with a big hustle play, chasing down a ball near the Newman bench. Savannah Skinner had 17 digs, as the Comets defense kept frustrating St. Bede hitters.
“I thought we kept most balls in play,” Debbi Kelly said. “We even had some nice hustle plays. We had some really nice digs when our blocks didn’t get a hand on the ball. Madison Craft came up with huge digs. Both our setters played huge defense.”
Early in the first set, neither team could muster much of a lead as the score remained within two points either way until Newman took a 13-9 lead on the strength of back-to-back Bruins errors.
“Defensively, I thought we played well the first set,” Damerell said. “I thought our hitters were having more contact with the ball first set than second set. Credit to Newman, I thought they played well. … Second set, defensively, I thought we just weren’t there.”
St. Bede (9-2, 2-1 TRAC) got two kills from Hallie McGuire to close within three points, but more hitting errors and violations kept Newman in front. The Bruins got within one point, down 17-16 after a Newman error, then committed back-to-back errors themselves. Newman put things away late in the set thanks to back-to-back Macaire Brown kills and a kill from Sanders.
“Our weak-side hitters with Macaire and Hannah can really come through,” Debbi Kelly said. “Our middles have been working really hard to run quicker offense. .. We’re just doing a nice job spreading that ball around, giving everyone an opportunity to show what they can do.”
Newman def. St. Bede 25-20, 25-13
Star of the game: Aidan Brown, Newman, 14 kills, 5 digs
Key performers: Madison Craft, Newman, 16 assists, 4 digs; Savannah Skinner, Newman 17 digs, Hallie McGuire, St. Bede, 5 kills
Up next: Newman at Hall, 6 p.m. Thursday