Newton Volleyball Season ends in District Semi-Finals

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Newton fell in district semi-finals but not before winning a sectional title and finishing 17-7 overall, 9-2 in the league for a 3rd place finishing in 2023.  (Dale Barger Photo)

ARCANUM – The Newton volleyball team bowed out of the OHSAA DIV state tournament in the district semi-finals falling in 3 sets to Fairlawn.

Coming into the contest the Indians were down a couple of key players and were forced to make some quick line changes and found themselves trailing by 2 sets before they really started to get into a flow.

They would take a lead for the first time in set 3 and then trailed late 20-19 to the Jets but wasn’t able to keep it together down the stretch falling in the 3rd set dropping the match to Fairlawn who advances to the District Final game.

For Newton coach Danita Rapp she knew coming in that Fairlawn was going to be a challenge and the Indians were going to have to play well while facing adversity.

Senior Kylie Velkoff sets the ball in a match with Fairlawn.  (Dale Barger Photo)

“We were facing an unexpected injury at the last minute and down a couple key players so we kind of had to alter our lineup a little bit, which obviously is tough when it happens in tournament,” Rapp said.

“The girls battled and finally started to settle in and figure it out a bit in the 3rd set but it was bit too late, that’s what’s tough about tournament time, making lineup changes aren’t really what’s in the plan, but sometimes you just have to do it,” Rapp stated.

“The girls gave their best effort and I’m proud of them for that,” Rapp added.

Newton who finished 21-2 last year lost some big talent to graduation and coming into this season returned one all-league performer along with a lot of youth so some may have been expecting the Indians to be down, but coach Rapp had her squad competing for a title again.

“We honestly had an excellent year and I’m proud of my team because everybody kind of considered our moment to be passed and I think this team showed up and proved that we weren’t done, yes we had some youth and had to get creative, but we competed well this year,” beamed Rapp.

The Indians conclude their season with a 17-7 record, sectional champions and a 3rd place finish in the WOAC with a 9-2 league record making for a very good season.

It’s always an emotional moment when the season ends especially for seniors as coach Rapp embraced her senior middle hitter Bella Hall after the game.

Senior Bella Hall left it all on the floor in her last game as an Indian volleyball player.  (Dale Barger Photo)

“Obviously she’s had a phenomenal year, she was 1st team WOAC and a second team District 9 All-Star again this year.  She’s just kind of been one of those players who had to step up into a different role this year and I know she wanted to accomplish more … but I feel like she ended it really well tonight, even though we lost she had a great game,” Rapp praised.

Also graduating is coach Rapp’s daughter Olivia who was a second team all WOAC performer and honorable mention District 9.

“She’s been really consistent for us all the way around and such a strong leader,” Rapp commented.  “She and Bella have been a key this season while serving as captains,” Rapp added.

Senior Olivia Rapp all around game will be missed next season as she performs in her last game in a Newton uniform. (Dale Barger Photo)

“Kylie Velkoff is another senior who actually came back to volleyball, playing her freshman year then gone sophomore and junior year and kind of came back this year into a pressure role stepped in and figured it out, so we’re thankful for that,” complimented Rapp

“Chloe Shellenbarger was also able to fill in and give us relief on the back side of things and provided strong leadership while keeping our team pumped up as well,” expressed Rapp

“We’ll miss our seniors, they had an excellent season,” coach Rapp concluded.

Newton will return a few key players next year that includes 1st team all-WOAC Sienna Montgomery and 1st team District 9.  Also returning is WOAC special mention Ava Rapp.

Congrats to the Lady Indians Volleyball team on a solid season.

Senior Chloe Shellenbarger digs a ball in tournament game with Fairlawn. (Dale Barger Photo)