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Local Sports

Lady Norsemen, Malone rally to remain undefeated

Newark survives three-set test from Aurora Rosary

AURORA — Madi Malone unleashed a spike with extra intentions, then gave an ever so subtle shoulder shimmy.

It was go time.

And, for Newark, that can only mean one thing.

"I told my setter, she's new, I told her this isn't the time to spread it around," Newark coach Tonya Grayson said. "We''re going to the well."

That well had plenty in the tank.

Malone, Newark's dynamic junior outside, delivered 21 kills Tuesday, none bigger than the one that started the second set. The Norsemen recovered from dropping their first set of the season to defeat host Rosary 17-25, 25-20, 25-12 on Tuesday night in Aurora.

To Malone, who helped lead Newark to a Class 1A state championship last season, this was a much-needed test against a quality program that's dropped from 3A to 2A this season.

"We haven't played a team like Rosary that knows exactly what to do, where to serve it. I was definitely flustered," Malone said. "The second set we came out, we made adjustments, and we played with what we had."

Meggie Scott added 13 digs, Malone nine and Cassidy Adams seven for Newark (10-0). Taylor Christian had 30 assists and Megan Williams eight kills.

To Christian, a first-year varsity setter, and new No. 2 middle Kjersten Friestad, Tuesday's match provided an eye-opening experience that they passed.

"I told my setter she got 10 years of experience in one night," Grayson said. "They had to learn to play big-girl volleyball, and they handled it incredibly well."

Rosary (5-3), which got senior outside Molly Mulvey back from an ankle injury Tuesday, was the clear aggressor early. Libero Sarah Konovodoff dug balls all over the court — and off it — and the Royals used a 7-0 run out of a 5-5 tie to take charge of the first set.

That changed in the second, starting with a Malone kill with a little extra spice. Out of a 20-20 tie, Malone took over with a personal 4-0 run, setting up Mattie Chapman's block for set point.

"I was very specific with my setter. I told her you look at me every single point, and I'll tell you to set the ball," Grayson said. "That's how you learn."

More often than not, where Christian was going was Malone, who overpowered Rosary from the front and back row. Malone's two kills sandwiched around a Chapman winner sprung Newark to a 6-1 start in third set.

"Part of our game plan was to have our middles cheat to the outside and have everybody else beat us," Rosary coach Bill Allen said. "That gameplan got away from us in the second set. She (Malone) seems like she can handle herself well. When you have confidence with somebody like that and they produce, they're obviously a special player."

Malone had help. Williams, quiet in the first set, got it going in the second with four straight Newark points on kills out of a 14-14 tie.

Williams later had the block for match point.

The win is Newark's third straight in the series against Rosary, coinciding with Malone's arrival. Last year at Newark, the Norsemen spotted Rosary the first set, then won the second 30-28.

"It's always like this. That's why we want to play them," Grayson said. "We want to get tested. That's why we're so grateful that they'll take us every year.

"We appreciate their program, and they appreciate ours."

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