NEW PALESTINE — The battle for first place in the Hoosier Heritage Conference volleyball standings was one-sided.
No. 2 Yorktown showed the legitimacy of its Indiana High School Volleyball Coaches Association Class 4A ranking, as well as its history as a state volleyball power at New Palestine High School Tuesday.
The Tigers, owners of five state titles — including three in the last six years — completed an undefeated (7-0) conference season and improved their overall mark to 23-2 with a 3-0 victory over the Dragons.
New Palestine came in with a pretty impressive record, too, but struggled in losing by set scores of 25-15, 25-15, 25-11.
It was New Palestine’s first conference loss of the season. The Dragons are 4-1 with league contests remaining against Shelbyville (at home on Tuesday, Oct. 4) and Mt. Vernon (at Fortville on Thursday, Oct. 6). They are 17-3 overall and had won seven straight matches until Tuesday.
After a 2-2 first-set tie, Yorktown scored five straight points. Two came on blocks of Dragon attacks.
On a kill from New Palestinen sophomore Lauren Wilson, one of her team-high 10, the Dragons cut it to 16-13, but the Tigers followed with a pair of service aces and two more points on blocks to secure the opening game.
The second set was tight until New Pal’s passing game went awry. Yorktown had three consecutive service aces to extend a second-set lead to 13-8. The Dragons had hung tough early getting strong play from junior middle blocker Rachel Burke, who had five kills in the set. The Tigers finished the second game with two more service aces, including the final point.
“They just hit you, hit you and keep hitting you,” New Palestine coach Jamie Morris said. “You have to settle in and figure out a way to be better than them. We didn’t have that (Tuesday). We couldn’t pass the ball. Our middles were finding ways to score, but we couldn’t get them the ball enough to let them make too much of a difference.
“We were aced 10 times and that’s a big problem. Our passing was a big issue in the loss.”
Two Wilson kills to start the third set gave New Palestine 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but Yorktown followed with the next six points and dominated play the rest of the way.
“(Yorktown) doesn’t make a lot of errors, so you can’t make very many and, basically, have to play perfect …That didn’t happen,” Morris said.
The coach was able to take some positives out of the loss.
“For us to even be in the conversation of winning the conference, I don’t think we’ve been in that, ever,” she said. “For us to be in contention to be second is a big deal and it’s something to be proud of. We haven’t faced a team like (Yorktown) since we played Hamilton Southeastern (in mid-August). I think getting beat like that wakes them up a little bit and lets them know we need to get better passing. We need to be better servers. Even though the loss stinks, it puts you in reality quicker. Hopefully we turn the page and be better after that.”
Prior to its final two HHC matches, New Palestine travels to Triton Central Thursday and plays host to Noblesville Monday.