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Experience wins out as Norwalk tops Edison

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Aug 21, 2019 at 1:44 AM

NORWALK — Both sides saw it happening.

Each tie visiting Edison made things interesting in Tuesday’s non-league match at Norwalk, it was the hosts pulling away late.

But with a full senior lineup on the floor and seven in uniform, the veteran experience was hard for the Chargers to match.

Norwalk took Game 1, 25-17. After the Chargers rallied for a 25-22 win to even the match in Game 2, they also had a 20-19 lead in the late stages of the third game.

But that is where Norwalk took over. A combination of kills and blocks by Carly Bilton and Mya Neuberger, along with an out of bounds hit by Edison allowed Norwalk to score six of the last seven points for the key 25-21 win in Game 3.

Norwalk then closed things out with a 25-19 win in Game 4 to win the season opener for both teams.

“I think our experience came into play,” Norwalk coach Sarah Kipp said. “I’m playing with seven seniors and an eighth that is injured right now. But we brought back our entire roster from last year, and I think our experience kind of took over at the end of the match. They stayed steady and played through each point.”

Though Game 1 was tied at 12, Norwalk controlled the backstretch. It was 14-10 after a block at the net by senior Delaney Thomas, who then helped her team extend the lead to 20-13.

Norwalk held that advantage throughout the rest of the 25-17 win.

In Game 2, It was 14-12 in favor of Norwalk when the Chargers made their move. Kira Appeman came through with a pair of kills at the net, while Briana Keyser and Lilli Schuster also had some key hits and blocks.

Appeman put the 25-22 win away with a well-placed kill in the back right corner just inbounds to even up the match at 1-1.

Mackenzie Wilson and Keyser then combined for a big block that gave Edison a 20-19 lead in Game 3. But Norwalk scored the next three points, with Claire Kelley putting Norwalk up 23-21 with a kill.

An unforced error and a tipped ball at the net allowed Norwalk to seal the 25-21 win.

“We had some good plays down the stretch, but they are a veteran team that won the key points late,” Edison coach Sean Hoover said of Norwalk. “They have mostly seniors out there … but we did play them better tonight than we did in the summer — so that is the growth we want to continue to see.

“But that is what good, veteran teams will do,” he added. “When it gets tight at the end, they find that way to push those last few points when they need them. That is something we’ll need to learn how to do.”

With momentum on its side, Norwalk controlled Game 4 throughout, and were up 17-10 and 19-12 with kills from Neuberger. It was still a 21-14 lead, when the Chargers again proved to be a tough out.

Edison scored four straight points to close within 22-19, but Norwalk closed things out with three consecutive points of its own in the 25-19 win.

“There were a lot of good points — it’s not like we made it easy for them,” Hoover said. “There were long rallies and tough points we just didn’t win. That’s part of the game though, especially against a veteran team and program like Norwalk.”

For Norwalk, Olivia Ward was 138-of-139 with 53 assists to go with 16 digs and nine kills. Kelley had 11 kills and 11 digs, Neuberger had 10 and Carly Bilton added nine. Elyse Balduff served 11 points and Thomas added nine points.

Lindsey Koenig led the back row with 20 digs and played a vital role in the win.

“Lindsey’s defense tonight was big for us,” Kipp said. “She gets after the ball and pushes herself, and it shows.”

For Edison, Appeman finished with 11 kills, 15 digs and six points serving. Schuster added seven kills and 15 digs, while Wilson had seven kills and four blocks.

Keyser had six kills and four blocks, while Natalie Lambert had 12 assists, 14 digs, seven points and three aces for the Chargers. Olivia Vitaz also had nine kills and 20 assists for Edison, which hosts Clyde on Thursday.

“I liked the way our serve receive was,” Hoover said. “It’s something we’ve worked on a lot and we looked good there.”

Norwalk is also back in action on Thursday when it hosts Oregon Clay.

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