Hunter Rafuese goes low for a dig in action against Franklin on Oct. 16. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 21, 2013BRISTOL — When the Newfound volleyball team traveled to Franklin earlier this season, it was serving that put the Bears over the top.
The Golden Tornadoes made the trip to Bristol on Wednesday, Oct. 16, and it was the same story, as the Bears brought their strong service game to the line and walked off with a 3-0 win over the visitors.
The Bears made just six service errors all night long and picked up the 25-15, 25-19, 25-11 win.
"Obviously, we didn't miss much serving," coach Amy Fairbank said. "But we still need to get the kills under control."
Things didn't start out too strong, as the visitors jumped out to a 6-0 lead out of the gate and opened it up to 8-1 before the Bears slowly began clawing their way back in.
Lexi Sinclair had a nice kill and Bridget Lavin had a good tip at the net to cut the lead to 8-3 and Megan Geldermann and Caroline Miller continued the offensive onslaught for the Bears and they cut the lead to 8-6.
The Golden Tornadoes were able to open the lead back up to 13-7, but Lavin had a nice kill and the Bears fought back.
Then, Sinclair stepped to the service line and seized control of the game. The Bears trailed 14-10 when the senior captain toed the line and by the time she finished her service run, they were up 24-14. She contributed with a number of kills and also had six aces during the run.
Her run came to a close just one point of closing out the game, but Miller was able to put the game away with a kill for the 25-15 win.
The Golden Tornadoes were also able to get an early lead in the second game. Despite solid play from Geldermann, Tara Paladino and Sinclair, the visitors opened a 7-3 lead. However, it was Geldermann's time to shine at the service line. She took the Bears from a 7-4 deficit to an 11-7 lead, including three aces along the way.
Lavin, Sinclair and Miller continued the strong play at the net to keep the Bears ahead, despite a small rally from the visitors that cut the lead to one at 14-13. Sinclair again hit the service line and rattled off a few aces to help open the lead up and Hunter Rafuese turned in a solid play at the net to make it a 20-15 lead for the Bears.
Rafuese then took her turn at the service line and drilled a couple of aces and a Sinclair kill helped the Bears close out the 25-19 victory and a 2-0 lead.
Again it was the Franklin girls who got out to an early lead in the third game, but this time, the Bears didn't let the lead get too big, as Sinclair and Paladino led them back with strong play at the net and the Bears quickly got ahead by a 7-5 score.
Paladino came out with a couple of aces from the service line to help run the lead from 8-7 to 16-7 before the Golden Tornadoes got back on the board. Sinclair also turned in a couple of aces, as she helped open the lead to 23-9 for the Bears. Miller and Sinclair finished out the game with kills and the Bears had the 25-11 victory and the 3-0 win.
"I made some chances today, to let some girls come off the bench and work on some things," Fairbank said.
He also noted that Franklin had changed up their game a little bit in the weeks since they'd seen each other.
"They had changed their game a little," Fairbank said. "They set up a lot more plays than last time."
She said that forced the Bears to adjust their game after what they had seen last time.
"They (Franklin) didn't send it over on the first try, so it was playing out on the first hit," Fairbank said.
She also praised Sinclair for her serving, noting the senior had been struggling a bit from the line over the last few weeks.
Newfound got a 3-1 win over Epping in the final home game of the season on Friday, Oct. 19. The team honored the seven seniors prior to the game.
The highlight came in the first game, when manager Thao Nguyen took the court. She has been the team's manager for four years and practices with the team and Fairbank gave her the chance to play in the final home game.
"It was so fun to see her on the court with her friends," Fairbank said. "The girls just rallied around her."
Fairbank also adjusted the lineup to allow the seniors to all play together and Newfound rallied for a 27-25 win in the first game. They struggled out of the gate in the second and fell 25-11, but bounced back in a big way in the third game, winning 25-11
"It was a very aggressive game with very little mistakes," Fairbank said.
Newfound won the fourth game 25-22 for the 3-1 win.
Geldermann went 19-of-20 from the service line with four aces and 21 assists. Sinclair had 13 kills and 12 digs and Paladino and Lavin each had five kills. Nicole Hayes earned her coach's praise for her strong play in the back row.
The Bears will be finishing up their regular season schedule today, Oct. 24, at 6:15 p.m. in Pittsfield.
The Division III tournament begins on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 6 p.m. at the home of the higher seed.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.