Dragons endure vs. rival Cougars

NEW PALESTINE — There are two things New Palestine’s Allison Dennemann can rely on whenever the Dragons are on the volleyball court.

On Thursday night, both came up huge when it mattered most.

Soaring to the net for one of her 28 kills to score the first point in the decisive fifth set against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central at home, Dennemann didn’t have to watch the ball. She knew exactly where it was going to be.

Connecting with setter Kara Morris, who routinely applied the perfect touch, Dennemann hammered down four kills to give No. 10 New Palestine a 15-7 win in the fifth game and the match 3-2.

“She’s amazing. We have really good chemistry,” Dennemann remarked on Morris’ passing. “She sets the ball really well. She gets a lot of ball out that you wouldn’t think could be. She’s really scrappy.”

The always gritty Dragons (8-1, 1-0) showed their resilience after dropping a 3-0 match to Zionsville just days prior before facing Greenfield-Central (4-4, 0-2).

Only surrendering one of 19 sets before Zionsville grabbed three, the Cougars came out determined to win behind a fierce attack and rallied after losing the first set 25-20.

Senior Rachel Irbe had 15 kills. Junior Laura Banton finished with 14 and several crucial assisted blocks. Freshman Molly Broome, junior Emily Diehr and junior Maddie Wise all scored big points to give the Cougars a 25-21 second set win and a 25-20 fourth set victory.

“We knew Zionsville was going to be a good team, so we wanted to refocus immediately with Greenfield-Central. They always bring a great game,” New Palestine head coach Kelli Whitaker said. “We knew it was going to take a lot of heart and us to play very well.”

Greenfield-Central charged back in the second set with a game-changing 8-0 run to lead 23-20 and tip kill by Broome deadlocked the match 1-1. The set featured six lead changes and eight ties.

The Dragons fought back in the third with a 10-2 run to go up 20-14, but the Cougars clawed to a 21-20 lead with a five-point swing capped by a Broome ace.

After a timeout, New Palestine scored five unanswered points to win.

“It was a confidence booster getting this win,” Dennemann said. “(After that second set) we just got mad. We decided right there that weren’t going to lose this.”

The match was still up in the air as Greenfield-Central regrouped to win the fourth set with Diehr and Banton teaming to block several Dennemann, Mia Long and Katlyn Keele attacks.

In the final set, Dennemann and the Dragons ran out to a 9-2 lead before Keele wrapped up the last four points with three kills and a block for the 15th point.

“I’m happy we won. It was a good win for us,” Morris said. “The fifth game is when you need to come out strong, and we did.

Rich Torres is sports editor at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at rtorres@greenfieldreporter.com or 317-477-3227.