BERLIN – Newington girls volleyball earned its first win of the season after taking down Berlin, 3-0, on Tuesday at Gibney Gymnasium.
The Nor’easters outlasted the Redcoats in each set, winning 25-23, 25-20, 26-24, in the road victory.
“It feels really good,” Newington coach Kade Van Linter said. “The girls have put in a lot of work within the past couple of weeks, honestly, and we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in them from day one to now. I’m a happy guy.”
Trailing late in the first set, the Nor’easters rattled off six straight points to claim the early advantage and secure the momentum for most of the match.
“That was definitely a turning point,” Van Linter said. “I would say there were definitely critical players today that stepped up to give us the ‘W’. We had our consistent players and then we had those who just shined and kind of came up from the underground and were like ‘we’re here to play.’”
Van Linter singled out Journey Holley and Gabriela Caceres as two of the Nor’easters players that made the difference in the tightly-contested match.
“She was on time with her hits, her blocking time was so much better and she put more balls in the past three games that we’ve had, than we’ve ever had,” Van Linter said of Holley. “This game was definitely her game today.
“Caceres, super consistent, she was able to get the clutch moves and make it happen,” Van Linter said.
Holley finished the game with two blocks and two kills, Kayla Parker produced 10 digs and Maya Kozlowski had four aces.
In the third set, Newington pulled off another rally as Berlin was a point away from winning the set, but it was the Nor’easters who came out with the 26-24 advantage.
“As a coach it’s really deflating because we need to figure out how to put it away,” Redcoats coach Angela Kumm said. “We need to figure out how to end it and we’ve been in those situations with other teams this year. We’ve been ahead and just needed a game point and we can’t get that one final point.”
Brielle Dumont played well for Berlin, tallying 15 assists and three aces. The loss pushes its record to 0-3 to start the season.
Entering the match 0-2, Newington tried out some new tactics against the Redcoats and they wound up working out well in the end.
“I actually wanted to try out a new rotation,” Van Linter said. “We ended up doing a couple alternate rotations. Being able to switch it up – let’s say we run one rotation, for example, and then the following rotation they’re going to adjust to that, so we changed it up. I think being able to be dynamic in that regard was helpful to our favor.”
In addition to constantly changing looks, Berlin had trouble slowing down the Nor’easters efficient serves, which played an important role in both of their comebacks.
“We’re still struggling on serve receive and getting our first pass up to target is our main problem,” Kumm said. “Sometimes the tempo of the game – we’re not winning a lot of the net balls [either].”
Newington next plays at New Britain on Friday while Berlin will visit Bristol Central next Monday.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.