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Kicking off its season Thursday, the Newton-Conover volleyball team had to work extra hard for a season-opening win.
The Lady Red Devils (1-0) fought through tough first and third games against the Hickory Lady Red Tornadoes (0-1), but picked up the win, 28-26, 25-11, 26-24.
Leading Newton-Conover was Isabella Zaliagiris, who drove down nine kills. Sarah Van Horn had 15 digs.
The Lady Red Devils took an early 3-0 lead, but the two teams battled back and forth until the 26-26 mark.
Two crucial plays helped ensure a Lady Red Devils victory in game one, including a kill by Zaliagiris and a block my a newcomer to the team â€” Kadesha Gibbs.
â€śIâ€™m proud of our defense tonight,â€ť said N-C coach Linda Richards. â€śKadesha played great tonight. Sheâ€™s really come along. Isabella is a great hitter. Sheâ€™s really gotten better.â€ť
Carrying momentum from the first game, Newton-Conover rolled to an easy win in game two. With the two teams tied 7-7, Newton-Conover closed the game with a 18-4 run to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
â€śWe came in to tonight not thinking we were going to be very strong because we have so many freshman,â€ť Van Horn said. â€śThey really stepped up to the plate tonight. It was just a great effort from everybody.â€ť
Similar to the first game between the two squads, Hickory and Newton-Conover. The Lady Red Tornadoes took a 10-5 lead in the match, only to have Newton-Conover go on a 14-8 run to lead the match 19-18.
Hickory then rolled off five straight points to put themselves in the driverâ€™s seat.
The Lady Red Devils never gave up, scoring three straight points. Included in the run was a diving save of the ball by Van Horn in the far corner to send it back over the net.
â€śOur defense was really weak last year,â€ť Van Horn said. â€śThis year, we are really working on it and making it stronger. That diving play was just pure heart. I donâ€™t even know how I got to the ball. I just ran, dived as hard as I could and hit it over the net.â€ť
The Lady Red Devils finished off the match victory with a service ace by Laura Costner and a kill by Lanecia Williams.
Newton-Conover participates in the â€śBest of the Westâ€ť tournament at Davidson College on Saturday. The tournament features some of the best high school volleyball teams in the Western part of North Carolina.View more articles in: