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Joyce Endee

Knights win county volleyball battle

KENNETT’S KAITLIN TAYLOR (left) tries to block a shot by Kingswood’s Ellen Dunn during action Sept. 7 in North Conway. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
September 12, 2011
NORTH CONWAY — With both teams coming off wins on the season's opening night, the matchup between Kennett and Kingswood on the volleyball court in North Conway on Wednesday, Sept. 7, was a battle of the unbeatens.

Kingswood then proceeded to dominate a good chunk of the affair and walked off the court with a 3-0 win and their unbeaten record intact, while Kennett fell to 1-1 on the young season.

"I'm impressed with Kingswood," said Kennett coach Jocelyn Judge after her team had been handed the defeat, noting that her girls likely underestimated the Knights.

"They weren't talking, they weren't working together," she said.

"This is what I'm used to," said Kingswood coach Mike Christy, who coached for years in the successful Moultonborough program. "It took a little time to get them to believe in themselves.

"Now they believe in themselves and I think they can do some damage in Division II if they play like this," he continued.

Out of the gate in North Conway, the two teams battled back and forth, with Tori Burns getting a key point for Kennett and Cadie Camille netting three aces, helping the Eagles to a 7-3 lead.

However, Kingswood battled back and cut the lead to 8-5 before Casey Blakely and Catie Howard helped to push the lead to 10-6.

A nice tip from Ellen Dunn and a strong play at the net from Brittney Newlin cut the lead to 10-8. However, Kaitlin Taylor's strong play at the net and an ace from Howard pushed Kennett back out to a 12-8 lead.

Kingswood fought back and tied the game at 12 and an ace from Emily Rumery gave the Knights the 13-12 lead. Newlin helped stretch that lead to 15-12 before Taylor led Kennett back with a strong kill and an ace from the service line, tying the game at 15.

Christine Malchiodi, Camille and Blakely earned points for Kennett, while Newlin and Rumery earned points for the Knights, who took a 20-18 lead.

Nice tips at the net from Dunn and Casey Sargent helped the Knights to pull away and Dunn finished the game off with a strong play for a 25-20 win.

Good play from Newlin, Taylor Benjamin and Kelsey Libby helped get the Knights out to a 4-1 lead in the second game, but a big Taylor block followed by an ace and a strong play from Malchiodi got Kennett even at four.

The two squads went back and forth with Camille getting an ace for the Eagles and Dunn coming up with a couple of strong plays for the Knights.

Kingswood slowly pulled away behind good play from Newlin and Dunn and a pair of service aces from Dunn. Rumery also chipped in with an ace as the lead stretched to 18-10. A nice tip from Benjamin pushed the lead to 20-10, but Taylor fought back for the Eagles, winning three points in a row with strong play at the net.

Good play from Libby and an ace from Benjamin stretched the Kingswood lead to 22-13 and a great volley with Rumery, Taylor, Libby and Kennett's Michelle Cowles eventually ended with Camille making a nice tip to make it 22-14.

Malchiodi got a kill and Taylor an ace to cut the lead to 22-16, but Dunn helped push Kingswood closer with a nice kill and despite a Camille ace, the Knights won by a 25-18 score.

Game three was again back and forth, with Kennett getting an early 3-1 lead behind an ace from Howard and a nice play from Taylor. However, a Rumery ace and a Newlin block helped Kingswood fight back and take a 5-4 lead. A nice dig by Tyrra Demeritt pushed Kingswood ahead again, but Blakely got a key point for Kennett to tie the game at seven.

Libby and Malchiodi exchanged aces, but a pair of aces from Sargent helped Kingswood to pull ahead by a 14-9 score. Kennett fought back to cut the score to 14-12, but Newlin and Rumery got key points for the Knights and stretched the lead to 20-12. Dunn had a pair of aces and Newlin earned two more points as the Knights pulled away and won 25-13 for the 3-0 win.

"We were making unforced errors, serves were in the net, we were hitting the net," said Judge. "It kind of went into a downward spiral."

She noted that volleyball is often about how many times you screw up or don't screw up.

"It's not a skill issue for us," she said. "It's working together as a team issue. After Plymouth I thought we had it, but now I'm not sure."

"Believing is key," Christy said. "You step on the floor and you think you're going to win. This program has never had that before."

He noted that his girls all believe in each other and are a close-knit team, which is huge in having success.

"That is the most important thing for a team to be successful," he said.

The Knights were also wearing their new uniforms, which were modeled after college volleyball uniforms.

"They were so excited to put these on and they wanted to be winners in them," Christy continued.

The Knights had strong serving on the night to help get the win. Rumery was 17 of 17 from the line, while Dunn was 21 of 22. Newlin had seven kills and Dunn had six.

More Knights

The Kingswood girls eventually dropped their first game of the season on Friday in Plymouth, 3-1.

The Bobcats took the first two games by scores of 25-23 and 25-13 before Kingswood fought back and grabbed a 25-22 win in the third game. Plymouth finished things up with a 25-10 win in the final.

"We didn't play well," Christy said. "We matched up well, we just didn't bring the same type of game we brought against Kennett."

He noted that it was an important lesson for his girls, pointing out that they need to come with their best every day.

The Knights came out and led for much of the first game, but Plymouth battled back on the strength of a couple of service errors from the Knights. The Knights missed 10 serves on the night, as opposed to four against Kennett.

"We kept allowing them to get momentum back," Christy said.

The Knights entered the week at 2-1 and had quite possibly the biggest week of the season on tap, as they were facing off with Oyster River and Bedford after deadline and at Gilford on Friday, Sept. 19. All three teams are strong Division II squads.

"We're going to have to bring it if we want to do some upsetting," Christy said. The team was using Oyster River's 23-game win streak as motivation heading into Monday's contest.

The Knights are slated to host Gilford on Monday, Sept. 19, but that is a questionable situation due to the gym availability at Kingswood.

More Eagles

Kennett had a tough game to bounce back with on Friday, as the Eagles hosted perennial title contender Gilford.

The Golden Eagles took care of business, winning 25-14, 25-9 and 25-8.

"The girls played pretty well," Judge said. "I wasn't disappointed. We were trying to get to double digits in each of the games, but we got one."

She noted that Gilford is the perfect model of a program with a great feeder system, which allows the coaches to coach strategy more so than basic skills at the high school level.

Judge is hoping to get the Kennett program headed in the same direction and is pleased to have four girls on her team this year that played Junior Olympic volleyball. And, she has also secured a volunteer coach with the hope of having a town recreation program next year.

Kennett will be at Bedford on Friday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. and heads to Coe-Brown on Monday, Sept. 19, at 5:45 p.m.

Joshua Spaulding can be reached at sportsgsn@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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