COVINGTON - In a matchup of two relatively young volleyball programs, visiting Newton showed it had a little more work to do than county neighbor Alcovy.
Leah Anderson had five of Alcovy's 14 service aces to go along with three kills and five assists as the Tigers, in their fourth season, dismantled third-year program Newton 25-8, 25-9 on Tuesday.
After not leading at all in two losses to Woodland (Henry), Newton ran out to a 2-0 lead in the first game on kills by Lynae Bogues and Alethea Faggett. But the host Tigers took over from there.
Brittany Jacobson picked up three consecutive aces, and Anderson, the team's setter, added two kills and an assist on Holly Oakes' kill to put Alcovy up 9-3. Later, following two unforced errors by Newton, Anderson put the game away with four straight aces.
"(Anderson) was a hitter last year," Alcovy coach Amanda Briggs said. "She's a smart, good decision-maker; good leader."
Game 2 was more of the same as the Tigers ran out to a 7-1 lead and rarely were challenged in winning 25-9. Oakes had two kills early, one on a pretty assist from Anderson. Newton's only offensive points came on Joy Pollock's kill that tied the game at 1-1 and a late service ace by Bogues that cut the Alcovy lead to 17-8. After that, Alcovy ran off eight of the last nine points to secure the victory.
"I am speechless," Newton coach Shandelyn Carter said. "I had high expectations. I take full resonsibility for what happened tonight. Things are just going to have to change; there's no excuse for what happened tonight."
"I know that their program was new, so I knew it would be a more even level," Briggs said. "We had (the match against Newton) if we wanted it. I saw good things."
Both schools had trouble with Woodland on Tuesday.
The Wolfpack opened strong in Game 1 against Alcovy, jumping out to a 15-3 lead thanks in large part to nine unforced errors by the Tigers, which Briggs attributed mostly to nerves.
"We were all over the place; silly mistakes," Briggs said. "It wasn't really anything (Woodland) did."
The second game was a different story as Alcovy took a 20-15 lead on an ace by Michaela Smith and kills from Danielle Staples and Oakes. Woodland then picked up five of the next seven points, capped by a kill from Hillary Konken and an ace from Patricia Lyons to make it a 22-20 game.
The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the game, with Alcovy getting a kill from Staples, which set up game point. Woodland didn't flinch, roaring back with the final four points on kills from Pam Konken and Chelsea Braddy and two errors from Alcovy that sealed the match 26-24.
"Second game against Woodland, we came together as a team," Briggs said. "This point in the season last year we couldn't spike the ball. We've come a long way, (and) I'm excited for the season. So are the girls."
Woodland made short work of Newton, winning a pair of 25-8 games. The Rams didn't score an offensive point in the first game and in Game 2 managed just Carla McCollom's kill that cut the Wolfpack lead to 20-7. Lyons capped an impressive night with six aces and three kills in the two games.
Newton, which had two players with varsity experience heading into 2009, has a week off before returning to action next Tuesday against another county rival, Eastside. Carter is looking forward to the extended practice time.
"A nice week to work together," Carter said. "It'll be a different team next Tuesday. A lot of them are just learning (the sport). I told them tomorrow is a brand new day."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.