GREENFIELD — It wasn’t pure domination, but it was close.
Thanks to a commanding performance from junior outside hitter Allison Dennemann in the opening set Thursday, New Palestine’s volleyball team topped county and conference rival Greenfield-Central 3-0.
Dennemann, a University of the Pacific commit, finished with 27 kills — 12 in the first set — as the Dragons won 25-14, 25-22, 25-23.
Trailing 13-9 in the third frame with a 2-0 match lead, Dennemann provided three kills and a mix of clever tip shots as the Dragons took a 15-13 advantage to hold on for the win despite a furious Cougars comeback.
She also added 11 digs.
“Almost 10 kills per set (for Dennemann) is insane,” New Palestine head coach Kelli Whitaker said. “We want them to average around three. Her arm speed is just so fast.”
Senior setter Kara Morris added 39 assists for the Dragons in the win, while senior Mia Long finished with 13 kills and 18 digs to lead the defense.
Sophomore Lydia Jones was effective in the back line, too, and chipped in 14 digs.
After the aforementioned 15-13 lead in the third set, New Palestine took a 22-17 lead only to see it dwindle to 22-20 as Greenfield-Central had no intention on giving up.
However, it was too little, too late as the Dragons improved to 7-2 and 1-0 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.
“Greenfield and New Palestine is a huge rivalry, especially in volleyball,” Whitaker said. “In recent years, we have gone back and forth, and whoever was the home team won. Coming into their home, we wanted to make that tradition.”
The Cougars (3-4, 0-2 HHC), in a well-balanced attack, were led by senior Laura Banton’s 13 kills. Sophomore setter Molly Broome added 32 assists, while classmate Hannah Burkhart led the team with 13 digs.
“The serve-pass game really got us out of what we wanted to do,” Greenfield-Central head coach Travis Fuller said. “When we simplify things, that put the ball on the other side of the court.
“Dennemann is a good player. You have to make her hit off the net. Her shot range is really good.”
Dennemann helped New Palestine take a 7-3 lead in the first set with four kills. After Greenfield-Central’s Banton provided a spark for the Cougars later on with two kills of her own to make it 8-6 in favor of the Dragons. Three straight New Palestine points would force Fuller to call a timeout with the score at 11-6.
However, Greenfield-Central would keep New Palestine close after a big block at the net from senior Emily Diehr, forcing the Dragons to call a timeout with a 15-13 lead.
Dennemann would answer, though, with four kills and a soft tap to help her squad take a 22-13 advantage and run away with the set 25-14.
“We weren’t able to put any pressure on the ball,” Fuller said.
In a highly-competitive second set, both teams were locked at 15-all, with the largest lead being three points. After a Greenfield-Central timeout, both teams would rally to 22 before three straight New Palestine points gave the Dragons a 25-22 win and 2-0 match lead. There were 11 ties in the set.
“We executed a little bit cleaner,” Fuller said of the second and third sets. “Seeing is believing for this team.”
Greenfield-Central also received three aces from junior Olivia Fortner and four blocks from Diehr.
The Cougars opened up HHC play with a 3-0 loss to Class 3A No. 3 Delta on Tuesday. They also were beaten by 4A No. 9 New Albany (2-1) earlier this season.
The Dragons have dropped contests to 4A No. 10 Zionsville (3-2) and 3A No. 8 Guerin Catholic (3-2) this year.
Greenfield-Central returns to action Tuesday at Knightstown while New Palestine will play at Eastern Hancock on the same evening.
New Palestine 3, Greenfield-Central 0
NPHS;(7-2, 1-0 HHC);25;25;25;-;3
GCHS(3-4, 0-2 HHC);14;22;23;-;0
NP– Dennemann 27 kills and 11 digs, Long 13 kills and 11 digs, Morris 39 assists, Jones 14 digs.
GC – Broome 32 assists, Banton 13 kills, Diehr four blocks, Fortner three aces, Burkhart 13 digs, Pribble 11 digs.