New Pal rallies to win HHC opener

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New Palestine’s Bella Brownfield comes off the court against Greenfield-Central during their match on Thursday.

Tom Russo | The Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — New Palestine didn’t get off to a good start in its match, but it ended up with a good start to its Hoosier Heritage Conference season.

The Dragons trailed rival and host Greenfield-Central by as much as six points in the first set.

After a timeout, New Palestine took control of the set and match in a 3-0 victory over the Cougars at Dellen Automotive Gymnasium Thursday.

It was New Palestine’s first HHC match of the year. The Dragons are 6-1 overall.

Set scores were 25-22, 25-17, 25-15.

“I felt like we played with a little bit of nerves in the first set,” New Palestine coach Kelli Gabehart said. “When I called that timeout, we talked about settling down, playing our game, focusing on our side, and finding a rhythm.

“It’s one point at a time. You can’t score five at once. Once we were able to focus on that, we started scoring runs.”

The Dragons trailed 14-8 when Gabehart called for a break in the action.

They started scoring them one at a time and in bunches.

With libero Honour Mallory serving, New Palestine went on a 9-0 run.

The run started when the Dragons got a sideout on a kill from sophomore Lauren Wilson. During the run Reagan Kleiman had three kills, two came on Greenfield-Central overpasses.

“When another team overpasses and (6-feet, 1-inch) Reagan is at the net, it’s like, good night,” Gabehart said. “She can hammer it in front of the 10-foot line or she can take two hands and push it to the side. She’s definitely a key player up there and makes a lot of key plays.”

G-C stopped the run on a Mya Grigsby kill, but the Cougars were now trailing 20-16. Wilson finished the opening set with back-to-back kills.

“Positivity plays a big role for us,” Wilson said. “We realized we needed to start playing together and not as one, and it went on from there.”

After a 9-0 run in the opening set, the Dragons had a key 6-0 rush in the second.

A Wilson kill gave New Pal a 7-6 lead. The sideout rotated Wilson to the serving area where she followed with five straight aces. Later, Isabella Gizzi served a pair of aces.

For the match, the Dragons had 12 service aces, six by Wilson and five by Gizzi.

The third set was similar to the second. Tied 6-6, New Pal went on an 8-0 run and led the remainder of the match.

Wilson led the Dragons with nine kills. Bella Brownfield had eight, without an error. Kleiman had five. Defensively, Azure Flagle had 12 digs. Mallory had 11. Gizzi had 25 assists.

Grigsby led G-C’s attack with 13 kills. Finnley Greene had 10 digs. Setter Makenna Rankins had 20 assists.

Greenfield-Central coach Jon Vernon thought his team played well against a very strong New Palestine team.

“New Pal’s a good team and well-coached by Kelli,” Vernon said. “Until the end, the third set, I thought we played pretty well. I think we just quit communicating.

“(Early) we put them out of system with our serving. We were serving deep, getting them out of system and we had some real hustle plays and blocks. It got kids excited. I told them I was pleased with their efforts. They played hard for two-and-a-half sets. We have to figure out how to get over the hump and finish things out when we have the lead.”

Greenfield-Central dropped to 4-4 overall and 0-2 in the HHC.