The season opener for the Norwalk volleyball team produced similar results as it has for many years on Tuesday night at Edison High School.
Though there was a slight hiccup in the second set, Norwalk rebounded for a non-league sweep over the host Chargers, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19.
It was the first match — and victory — for first-year coach Sarah Kipp. The New London graduate takes over for Angie Kalizewski, who was the head coach for the previous eight seasons.
After winning the first set that it mostly controlled, 25-18, Norwalk found itself in trouble in the second set.
Edison broke an 11-11 tie with five straight points, capped by an ace from junior Halina Krul. It was still 18-13 in favor of the Chargers when Norwalk made its move.
A pair of kills by Delaney Thomas and Claire Kelley trimmed the deficit to 19-17 — then an unforced error by Edison made it 19-18.
Seizing the momentum, Norwalk got three kills from Kelley and Mya Neuberger to tie the match at 20. Neuberger then gave Norwalk the lead it did not relinquish.
Another unforced error by the Chargers gave Norwalk another point, then an ace by Kelley and a kill from Thomas sealed the 25-20 win for a commanding 2-0 lead.
"That shows me a lot for the girls to do that in the first match," Kipp said. "I'm proud of how hard the girls fought to come back out of that hole. Don't love to be down in the hole, but it's the beginning of the season and it shows us what we need to work on."
The third set played out similar, minus Edison getting a significant lead. It was a 16-15 lead for Norwalk when Carly Bilton hammered down a kill and Elyse Balduff quickly followed with an ace for a 21-17 lead.
Edison got no closer from there, with Norwalk closing out the 25-19 win and sweep.
"Our offense is a work in progress, we're still young there, especially on the outside," Edison coach Sean Hoover said. "I love the effort we gave tonight. I though Norwalk blocked really well. We're just trying to find our way offensively.
"I don't know that it's anything we did poorly or they did great, they just dig the ball well and took away some shots we were trying to hit," he added. "We went through a stretch where we also didn't get our passes where we needed to, but they are a great, scrappy defensive team that makes it hard to get balls to the floor against. It was more a case of them doing things right than us doing anything wrong."
With seven key veterans back from a 17-win team that shared the Lake division title in the Sandusky Bay Conference while falling in five games of a Division II district championship match — expectations are still high as ever in Norwalk.
"We have some talented kids who work hard, and I'm excited to see what they do," Kipp said. "Olivia, and defensively Haleigh Skinner and Lindsey Koenig all really played well tonight. They kept the ball off the floor, and just did a really nice job.
"We take it one day at a time," she added. "I'm excited for the year, but it's just one day at a time. This is a veteran team who all work hard. They've been in weight room since March and had a really good summer."
For Norwalk, Bilton was 18-of-24 hitting with 11 kills, with Neuberger finishing 19-of-25 with seven kills. Kelley was 20-of-20 hitting with eight kills. Ward added 13 digs and Skinner had 11, while Ward was 71-of-73 setting with 29 assists. Balduff served 11 points, while Neuberger had eight points with three aces.
For Edison, Schuster had six kills and two digs, while Natalie Lambert had 14 assists, six digs and served five points. Kira Appeman had three kills, four digs and four points, and Hannah Vitaz added four kills and four blocks. Melissa Kuhl had four kills and Grace Houser added seven digs.
Edison faces Clyde on Thursday.
"I loved the effort — but just a few little things with our blocking scheme we need to pick up more," Hoover said. "It's just a matter of coming in and trusting ourselves every day in practice to get a little bit better at something. If we do that, we'll be fine.
"Norwalk is going to be at or near the top of the big third of this league, and to come out and give them three competitive games — I'm happy with the effort and the way we came out and battled," he added.