The Valley Central volleyball team squeaked through the first set of Wednesday night’s match against the Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks but built early leads in the second and third sets on their way to a 3-0 victory.
The Vikings posted wins of 25-21, 25-16, 25-14.
“They’re a little tired,” Valley Central coach Paige Matuszewski said. “We haven’t had a game in a couple of days. Once they got into the groove though, we got better with each set, which was good. They definitely started off a little slow for my liking.”
The Vikings were never in danger of losing a set, especially after Abby Rieber took the service line. When she got there, the Vikings had a slim 5-4 lead. When the serve went back to the Goldbacks, the Vikings had a 12-5 lead.
The Vikings maintained a 7-point lead until a three-point service run by Newburgh’s Tatum Connolly pulled the Goldbacks to within four points. But that’s as far as the Goldbacks would get as the Vikings held on for the set victory.
“I feel like we lacked on communication and aggression,” Matuszewski said. “Sometimes I feel like with the different age groups, that happens. We have a lot of young girls this year, so I feel like sometimes they get a little timid on wanting to take the ball at the varsity level. But we’re slowly getting there.”
The Vikings had an easier time in the second set, thanks to a long service run by Hiromi Gutierrez, who helped launched them to an 8-0 lead. She gave the Vikings a 5-0 lead in the third set as well.
“She can just spot serve great,” Matuszewski said. “She knows exactly where to hit the hole. She could serve short; she can serve long. She’s really smart and knows where to place the ball, which is good.”
The Vikings start four sophomores – Abby Rieber, Lexi Malara, Maggie Bishopp and Ava Budd – and with that inexperience on the court for most of the time, the Vikings rely heavily on their two senior captains, Bella Frangione and Autumn Singleton.
Singleton had nine kills, two aces, nine digs and a block, while Rieber had five kills, 23 assists and two digs and Melanie Anglin had eight kills and three digs.
“The two captains have some huge rolls to fill,” Matuszewski said. “Last year, we had a huge returning group. So, these two girls are put to the occasion right now and they’re doing great with our sophomores. They’re just making that they feel comfortable out there. And so far, so good.”
Things got more difficult immediately as the Vikings faced off against Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II rival Pine Bush, a perennial Section 9 Class AA power, on Thursday.
Pine Bush won the match 3-1.
The Vikings took the first set, 25-23, but were swept in the next three, 25-13, 25-19, 25-19.
Wednesday, they are scheduled to visit Monroe-Woodbury and then Friday they will host the Warwick Wildcats.
“We’ve got some big games coming up,” Matuszewski said. “So, we’ll see how that goes.”