Class 4A No. 2 New Castle barely broke a sweat in its opening two volleyball matches, sweeping Blue River and Southside by lopsided scores.
The easy life ended for the Trojans on Saturday, though, when a scrappy Delta squad ventured into the New Castle Fieldhouse.
Class 3A No. 5 Delta took the second set to nod the match, but the Trojans recovered and elevated its play down the stretch for a 26-24, 23-25, 25-19, 25-9 victory.
“I give credit to Delta. I thought they were very scrappy,” New Castle coach Randy Gardner said. “It was the first big match we’d been in and ball control wise we didn’t pass as well as we needed to early in the match. We started to clean it up late and looked like a volleyball team.”
Delta (1-2) held New Castle star hitter Lauryn Gillis in relative check. Gillis finished with a match-high 19 kills, but she committed an unusually high number of hitting errors to reach that total.
“We just really needed to focus on where she was and what she was doing,” Delta coach Heidi Zickgraf said. “I felt we did a great job on her.”
Two other Trojans (3-0) in outside hitter Ciarra Leath and setter Taylor Patterson picked up where Gillis left off. The aggressive Patterson tipped to the tune of 13 kills, and she accounted for 37 of the 53 New Castle assists. Leath contributed 11 kills, five digs and her share of timely plays.
“Ciarra Leath had a very good match,” Gardner said. “The stat line probably doesn’t show it, but she did a lot of good things for us.”
The Eagles primarily put the ball away through their middle attackers. Marissa Elam topped Delta in kills with nine. Fellow middle attacker Taylor Wright followed with eight.
Delta libero Teaghan Dishman stood out as one of the stars of the match. Dishman totaled a match-high 18 digs against the vaunted New Castle attack. Two other Eagles reached double figures in digs in Lauren Ogle (11) and Ericka Pursley (10).
The Eagles lost the match and their play in the final set frustrated their coach, but in her mind, the positives from their performance far outweighed any negatives.
“I talked to them obviously about that last set,” Zickgraf said, “but you take out that last set out, and I thought we competed better than anybody thought we could against that team.”