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Norwalk goes 1-2 at host Invitational

By JOSH MORGRET • Updated Sep 2, 2018 at 11:57 AM

NORWALK — It could have went better.

But, it could have also gone a bit worse.

The Norwalk volleyball team dropped its first two matches of its home Invitational, then bounced back to defeat Hathaway Brown, 25-15, 25-21, finishing the day seventh out of eight teams at Norwalk High School.

"It is always nice to finish the day with a win," Norwalk coach Sarah Kipp said. "We came out in the first game and kept our energy high and rode that momentum wave."

Against the Blazers, Norwalk (3-3) hardly trailed and three straight points by Hathaway Brown tied the game at 5. But, Norwalk ran off the next nine points for a 14-5 lead.

Norwalk never led by less than seven points the rest of the game, and a pair of service errors by the Blazers gave Norwalk the opening game.

"We were able to pass the ball a little better today," Kipp said. "It means you can run the offense, which is nice to see."

In Game 2, Norwalk again only trailed after the first point before dominating the rest of the game. Norwalk's lead was 9-5 before it tallied six straight points for a double-digit lead.

Despite the large lead, Norwalk slowly let Hathaway Brown back into the game. Norwalk has no seniors on this year's roster, which Kipp quickly acknowledged.

"It’s a work in progress," Kipp said.

The Blazers sliced away at the lead and got within three points late, but a kill by Carly Bilton gave Norwalk the win.

In the win, Bilton finished with six kills and served 12 points with three aces. Olivia Ward was 56-of-57 setting with 19 assists, while Delaney Thomas added five kills and Emmie Horner had eight digs.

"It is the beginning of the year," Kipp said. "We are young and we are looking for leadership on the floor since we have no seniors. It shows us what we need to work on."

In the second match of the day, Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin topped the hosts, 24-26, 25-12, 25-19.

"I think we bounced back in the first game and had some momentum," Kipp said. "We came out in the second game and struggled with serve receive. We dug ourselves a hole we could not get out of it.”

The jump-serve of NDCL senior Alexis Zienka caused all sorts of problems for Norwalk. She had four aces just in Game 2 and also smacked a pair of kills.

"She had a nice top-spin serve," Kipp said. "We were not able to handle it."

Norwalk also struggled containing Lions' sophomore hitter Missy Sterkel, who had six kills in the game, including four in a row in a string of eight straight points, taking the NDCL (5-3) lead from 12-10 to 20-10.

"She is a nice hitter for them," Kipp said. "She did a nice job. She picked our defense apart."

Norwalk never gained any traction early in the third game either. It was whistled for two net violations in falling behind 6-1. Zienka added five kills and four more aces while Sterkel tacked on three kills.

"The third game was a repeat of the second game," Kipp said. "Our serve receive needs work."

In the setback vs. NDCL, Mya Neuberger had five kills, while Bilton, Ward and Claire Kelley each had four kills. Marie Clouse had three blocks, and Bilton served nine points with an ace.

Also for Norwalk, Haleigh Skinner had 12 digs, while Lindsey Koenig and Ward each added. Ward was 81-of-87 setting with 18 assists.

Norwalk opened the day with a 25-17, 25-19 loss to Tiffin Calvert.

"Our energy was very flat (Saturday) morning, so we talked a lot about that in the locker room," Kipp said. "If you don't play with energy and you are not excited about the game of volleyball, you are going to struggle."

In the loss to the Senecas, Kelley had five kills, with Neuberger and Thomas each adding four. Bilton had six points, while Ward was 54-of-57 setting with 13 assists and 10 digs.

The schedule does not get much easier as a trip to Perkins on Tuesday awaits. With Bellevue already knocking off Perkins in five games last week, coupled with Norwalk’s four-game loss to Columbian — the loser of the match is potentially two back in the SBC Lake division loss column by Sept. 4.

"We will come out and give it out best shot," Kipp said.

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