"This is not a serious group-they play better when they're having a good time," Hoener says. When New Haven is having fun they are not afraid to show it.
Cape Girardeau, Mo. - In Friday night's second pool play match, the New Haven Volleyball team suffered their first loss on the season as Leopold pounded the Lady Rocks, 25-16, and 25-17. Leopold was also the first time New Haven faced a team capable of attacking the ball.
Coach Jaime Hoener said, "Overall I thought it was a positive weekend. We can learn a lot from our losses and know what we need to work on to improve ourselves."
Coach Hoener said, "Right after our loss to Leopold the girls said they wanted another shot at them." Twenty-four hours later New Haven got what they wanted, but this time Leopold would see a completely different Lady Shamrocks team.
New Haven came out rockin’ Saturday morning at 8 a.m., easily knocking off Sikeston (25-6, 26-12) to win their pool and a spot in the Gold Bracket.
New Haven would play three straight three set games, advancing onto the consolation match against Leopold, 10 hours and 11 sets after playing their first set Saturday morning. New Haven's opening round loss to Clearwater (16-25, 25-17, 22-25) was the one game that bothered coach Hoener the most about the weekend.
"I feel like we should have won that game. Clearwater is a good team, don't get me wrong, but we had a bunch of mental errors that just really hurt us. We're going to have to get tougher."
Rachel Steinhoff hammers one of her 37 kills for the weekend.
In the following game against Eminence it was obvious during the first set New Haven had not recovered from their loss to Clearwater. "You could see self-doubt and frustration on their faces," Hoener said. "They were not themselves." Eminence won the opening set 25-20 putting New Haven one set away from elimination.
"I told them before beginning the second set to play relaxed and have fun. This is not a serious group - they play better when they're having a good time," said Hoener. Hoener's team responded by playing more relaxed and the expressions shown after hammering a kill, serving an ace, or stuffing a block said they were having a good time, jumping out to an 18-8 lead. New Haven would take the second (25-10) to force a thrilling and decisive third set.
Eminence jumped out to an early 6-3 lead before a Taylor Covington kill sparked New Haven to rally back and grab an 8-7 lead. Both teams would battle back and forth, exchanging services, making big time plays.
Just when it appeared Eminence was gaining momentum, New Haven would find an answer. It all came down to one thing, who wanted it the most.
Tied at 15, Kayla Meyer's kill was an example of one thing Hoener has emphasized throughout the year about making smart plays, which is exactly what Meyer did. Instead of using her power she used her head. With a little finesse, Meyer found a hole in Eminence’s defense, taking Mackenzy Vedder's set to give her team a one point lead off a tip kill.
Meyer then served her fourth ace in the game to give the ‘Rocks a 21-17 lead. After an Eminence kill, they would pull within two, 22-20, off three straight New Haven errors. Then, Rachel Steinhoff and Covington combined for a trifecta, slamming-jamming three straight kills to give New Haven their first come from behind win, 25-20.
New Haven, having played back to back three set matches, would play Bernie, who finished second after losing to Winona in the Class 1 State Championship match and were coming off an easy two set win over Advance.
Emily Kallmeyer dives to keep the ball alive, one of her 81 digs for the weekend, while only making five errors.
recording a career high The winner would move on and play in the Gold Consolation Finals against Leopold, which was exactly what New Haven had hoped for.
Right before the start, Hoener told the girls, "Bernie earned 2nd place in state last year on the same floor that we are about to play them on. We need to play good teams to make ourselves better."
Again, it would take three sets before New Haven eventually sent Bernie home, giving the lady rocks another shot at Leopold.
New Haven's true character and how much they play together as a team could not have been more evident than in the Bernie game. New Haven took the first set 25-23 then Bernie forced a third set with a 25-22 win in the second.
The coaches and players may be a bit superstitious; “when it goes to a third set and we get to choose what side to be on, we always choose the side that we won on. I don't care about serving or receiving. I want the winning side. Always!" Hoener said.
New Haven went on and won the third set, 25-18, with a win that was a team effort.
Covington had a season high 13 kills, Kayla Borcherding 9 kills, Kayla Meyer 8 kills, Olivia Fleer 7 kills, and Rachel Steinhoff 6 kills; that is what you call spreading the ball around.
New Haven also served 10 aces; Covington 4, Meyer 4, with Meghan Brown and Steinhoff each adding one.
Taylor Covington ended the weekend with a team high 45 kills, hitting double figures for the first time with a season high 13 kills against Bernie.
After playing 11 sets and three 3-set matches and Leopold having had only an hour or more since their last game, New Haven was a completely different team since they last played Leopold 22 hours before.
Leopold is a small Class 1 school about 30 minutes from Cape Girardeau and Volleyball happens to be their only girls’ sport. It is too early in the season to judge how Leopold stacks up against all Class 1 schools, but without a doubt they will be among the top come district time.
New Haven came out in the first set, giving Leopold a run for their money. Leopold gave New Haven a chance to win after serving the ball into the net, to give New Haven a 26-25 lead.
New Haven returned the favor, committing the same error to tie it up 26-26. Leopold went on to win 28-26 then taking the second set 25-12 where New Haven ran out of gas, playing their 13th set of the day.
After the game Hoener said, "We got the chance to play them again and hung right with them in the 1st set. I hope we get another shot at them this season."
If New Haven were to play Leopold later in the year, it would be in the Class 1 State Title game.
New Haven will enjoy playing their next several games at home, beginning on Thursday night against Centralia at 5 p.m. There will be freshmen, JV, and varsity games.
Saturday is the Annual New Haven Round Robin Tournament where New Haven will play at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m. Click here to download complete schedule.
The JV and freshmen teams will be playing in the Pacific Tournament. Click here to download that schedule.
Then on Monday, September 22 the Highway 100 Showdown returns to New Haven as they will look for redemption after loosing at Borgia last year after the Lady Rocks had upset them the year before, beating Borgia for the first time in 27 years.
It's pack the gym night and should make for one exciting game. Note freshmen game will start at 5:30 p.m.