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EARLVILLE — The LaMoille-Ohio volleyball team just could not get things going Thursday night in the finals of the Class 1A Earlville Regional, and the result was a season-ending 25-10, 25-8 loss to Little Ten Conference foe Newark.
The Lady Norsemen jumped out to a lead of 6-1 in the opening set and ran their advantage all the way to 19-2 before the Lady Lions broke up their run.
Newark started similarly in the second set as it rattled off the first eight points and never looked back en route to the regional title win.
“They’re flawless. They have great serves so you’re not able to get a nice pass off of that and then your offense is slim pickings from there. Sometimes you can only have one choice of a hitter to go to based off the pass,” said LaMoille-Ohio coach Hallie May, whose squad closed out the year 14-16. “They come at you. They’re a good team.”
May said the emotions of playing for a regional title had an effect on her team but said getting to the championship was a just another step forward for the Lady Lion co-op, which has increased its win output each of the past three years under May’s tutelage.
“I told the girls that it takes teams getting to a big game like this and maybe losing big or coming home with a big win in order for us to advance our program,” May said. “These girls have never been in this situation like this before — a big game with a huge fan base from both sides. I think nervous jitters played a big part in it.”
Newark coach Tonya Nagel, whose squad last won a regional title in 2009, said her team’s goal was to start strong and rely on its senior leadership. Both goals were accomplished.
“That’s what we talked about in the locker room before hand. We’ve got some seasoned seniors that weren’t dealing so much with the nerves,” Nagel said. “I told the younger girls on the court to rely on their seniors for that leadership. I said that they’ve been in a regional championship for four years in a row now and I said that they know what this is like and they will carry you. That seemed to calm the younger ones down a little bit and they just really took care of business.”
Newark (29-4-1) senior setter Lauren Tollefson led the attack with 15 assists, was dominant at the service line with 17 points — including a 12-point run in the opening set that helped blow open the contest — and added eight digs. Classmate Abby Akre had a team-high 10 kills and added nine digs, while junior Kristina Nichols scooped up a team-best 15 digs and had 11 service points with three aces. Shiela Browning led L-O with four kills, three digs and a point, Ragen Forbes had a team-best seven digs and Ashley Schrader added five assists and five digs.
After advancing from five wins in 2010 to 10 last year to 14 and a regional final appearance this fall, May said she is proud of how her team has developed and continues to grow.
“I’m thrilled with them. The future is bright for us. We have a great group of sophomores who just finished third in their (conference) tournament,” May said. “It’s going to be unfortunate, but we’re going to have good players sitting the bench. You’re going to have to be great to be out on the floor. That’s what we need to turn the program around. We just need some competition within ourselves. The girls know that and we have a summer program now. It’s heading in the right direction.”
NewsTribune Sports Writer Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.
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