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Newton Falls upsets Mathews, 3-1

VIENNA — The Newton Falls Tigers (10-12) advanced in the Division IV volleyball tournament with a 4-set triumph on the road over Mathews on Wednesday 25-17, 25-21, 26-28, 25-17.

“Tournaments are a brand new season,” Newton Falls coach Kristina Baker said. “I told them to forget about what happened in the regular season. We needed to go in there and fight for every point we won.”

The No. 16 seed Tigers certainly did. Senior Olivia Valot went diving to the floor on several plays and junior Natalee Albert helped serve up the first set victory.

“We played hard,” Albert said. “We have a tendency to get down on ourselves, and struggle to pick ourselves back up. We fought back tonight. This has been one of the most fun seasons I’ve played. All of the seniors were really nice. I’m really sad to see them go.”

The Tiger seniors aren’t going anywhere yet. Mathews got out to a 5-0 advantage in the second set, but Newton Falls senior Sage Elliot helped tie the score at 7 with some nice serving.

Maura Newhouse and Emma Gates each got up for a kill for Mathews. But, Newton Falls senior Cadence Stewart had a big spike of her own. Senior Alexandria Drake hustled to help the Tigers go up 2-0

The third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured 15 tie scores and multiple led changes. Confusion on the part of the Tigers led to the ball falling to the court and a 12-12 score.

“When it gets into those close games, volleyball is too fast of a game to even lose your focus for a minute,” Baker said.

The Tigers didn’t lose focus for long, but Gates and Isabella DelGarbino put the ball in the right spots for the Mustangs. Tie scores at 18-18, 20-20, 22-22, and 26-26 made the third set a thriller.

“That’s my girls,” Mathews coach Heather Sankey said. “I only have three seniors returning from last year. The rest of the team is young. A lot of people in the area didn’t think we would be over .500 this year. These girls work non-stop. I knew if we could stop the unforced errors it would be a different game. We just let too many balls drop.”

Mathews was the No. 7 seed and finished the season with a 16-7 record.

A two-handed touch shot from Drake and a block by freshman Lilly Sait helped the Tigers pull away in the fourth.

Newton Falls will play McDonald on Saturday in the next round of the tournament.

sports@tribtoday.com

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