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Trojans win own volleyball invitational

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New Castle’s Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) follows through on another successful kill attempt despite the effort of two Bellmont blockers as Trojan teammates Nicole Wilkinson (14) and Bailey Cox (16) watch during Saturday’s championship match of the New Castle Volleyball Invitational in the Fieldhouse. Shaffmaster had 21 kills on the day as New Castle swept past three opponents for the title.
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The New Castle High School volleyball team players and coaches pose with the trophy and smiles on their faces after winning the championship of Saturday’s New Castle Invitational in the Fieldhouse. The Trojans defeated Muncie Central, Mooresville, and Bellmont, all in straight sets, to claim the title.
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Laila Smith (8) of the New Castle High School volleyball team rises for a block attempt against Bellmont during Saturday’s championship match of the New Castle Invitational in the Fieldhouse. Smith had five blocks on the day as the Trojans swept past three opponents for the championship.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

The New Castle High School volleyball team hosted its own invitational Saturday in the Fieldhouse and it wasn’t a major surprise that the Trojans won it again by sweeping past a trio of opponents.

New Castle defeated Muncie Central 25-10, 25-12, Mooresville 25-14, 25-9, and Bellmont 25-14, 27-25 to grab the championship trophy and improve to 14-3 for the season.

“We won, but we still had too many errors that last match, 12 unforced errors and eight serving errors, that we need to work on eliminating,” New Castle Coach Sarah Roush said after defeating Bellmont. “I thought our sense of urgency was better, but it’s still an area of focus. Our passing is becoming more steady and we hope to match that in other components of our game.”

For the Trojans in their opener against the Bearcats, Nicole Wilkinson led in kills with seven, followed by Mabrey Shaffmaster five, Melani Shaffmaster four, Bailey Cox three, and Laila Smith Caitlin Shunneson, and Graci Bowers one apiece. Mabrey Shaffmaster had eight service aces, and Emily Scott, Nicole Wilkinson, and Cox one apiece. Melani Shaffmaster had 16 assists.

On defense against Muncie, Melani Shaffmaster had five blocks, Smith two, and Nicole Wilkinson and Cox one apiece. Zoe Conway led in digs with four, followed by Melani Shaffmaster three, Scott, Mabrey Shaffmaster, and Cox two apiece, and Ashley Wilkinson and Bowers one apiece.

Against Mooresville in the semifinals, Mabrey Shaffmaster and Shunneson led in kills with seven apiece, Nicole Wilkinson and Melani Shaffmaster each had five, Smith two, and Scott one. Mabrey Shaffmaster had six service aces, Conway, Shunneson, and Nicole Wilkinson two apiece, and Melani Shaffmaster one. Melani Shaffmaster had 16 assists, Conway two, and Cox one.

On defense against the Pioneers, Smith, Shunneson, and Melani Shaffmaster had a block apiece. Cox led in digs with 10, followed by Mabrey Shaffmaster and Melani Shaffmaster two apiece, and Conway and Shunneson added one each.

Olivia Keller led Mooresville in kills with two, Chloe Cowgur had its only service ace, Addi Shafer and Keller had a block apiece, Madi Hopkins led in digs with three, and Cowgur had all three of the Pioneers’ assists.

The championship match was a rematch of last year’s Class 3A Regional 6 title match against Bellmont at Norwell. The Trojans swept the Squaws in three sets that night and won in straight sets Saturday, dispatching Bellmont in 35 minutes of playing time.

The Squaws grabbed an early 2-1 advantage in the first set on a kill by Sophie Krull, but a block and a kill by Mabrey Shaffmaster gave New Castle a 4-2 lead. The Trojans took an 8-6 advantage on a Melani Shaffmaster kill, but two wide hits by the hosts deadlocked things again at 8-all.

From there, a Smith kill and block plus two wide hits and a carry violation gave the Trojans a 13-8 lead and prompted a Bellmont timeout. Two New Castle errors and a service ace from Rachel McBride pulled the Squaws to within 13-11, but a pair of kills by Mabrey Shaffmaster and another from Wilkinson propelled the Trojans into a 17-11 advantage.

After a wide serve by the hosts, a Shunneson kill and ace, a Nicole Wilkinson point, a Melani Shaffmaster kill, and a combined block by Wilkinson and Shaffmaster staked New Castle to a 23-12 lead, and the Trojans won set one after 15 minutes on a Nicole Wilkinson kill and a long serve by Bellmont.

The second set was tight throughout most of it. Kills by Mabrey Shaffmaster and Nicole Wilkinson gave New Castle an  early 3-1 advantage but the Squaws tied it up on a service ace by Grace Hunter. Two more kills by Mabrey Shaffmaster and Nicole Wilkinson plus a Melani Shaffmaster tip helped the hosts grab a 7-4 lead, but back-to-back blocks by Liz and Emilee Scheumann helped deadlock the set again at 8-all.

The Trojans led 11-10, but a tip and kill from Emilee Scheumann put Bellmont up 12-11, and three Tori Miller kills enabled the Squaws to grab a 16-14 lead. New Castle scored three points in a row, two on a Melani Shaffmaster kill and Nicole Wilkinson service ace to grab a 17-16 advantage, but another Emilee Scheumann kill and McBride ace returned the lead to Bellmont at 19-17.

After a long serve by the Squaws, the Trojans responded with kills from Nicole Wilkinson, Sunneson, and Mabrey Shaffmaster to take a 21-19 lead. After a kill by Miller, kills by Mabrey Shaffmaster and Shunneson plus a serve into the net by Bellmont put New Castle at match point leading 24-21.

The Squaws didn’t fold, and a long serve by the hosts plus two more Miller kills evened the set at 24-all. Mabrey Shaffmaster and Hunter exchanged kills for a 25-25 deadlock, but a tip by Melani Shaffmaster and a Nicole Wilkinson ace ended set two after 20 minutes and gave the Trojans the match.

“They gave us a good game that last set, but we figured out a way to put them away,” Melani Shaffmaster said afterward. “We’re working in practice on improving our passing so that we can run the offense we want to run. As long as we win, nobody really cares about personal stats. We plan to be in Muncie on Nov. 3 (for the state finals).”

For New Castle, Mabrey Shaffmaster and Melani Shaffmaster led in kills with nine apiece, followed by Nicole Wilkinson with five, Smith and Shunneson three each, and Cox one. Nicole Wilkinson had two service aces and Melani Shaffmaster, Shunneson, and Cox one apiece. Melani Shaffmaster had 15 assists, Zoe Conway three, and Cox two.

On defense for the Trojans, Smith had two blocks, followed by Mabrey Shaffmaster, Nicole Wilkinson, and Melani Shaffmaster one apiece. Melani Shaffmaster and Cox led in digs with six apiece, followed by Mabrey Shaffmaster three, Ashley Wilkinson and Shunneson two each, and Nicole Wilkinson and Conway one apiece.

For Bellmont, Miller had a match-high 12 kills, Hunter and McBride had a service ace apiece, Rylie Houser had 12 assists, Miller and the Scheumann sisters had a block apiece, and McBride led in digs with eight.

Elsewhere in the New Castle Invitational, Silver Creek defeated Mooresville 2-0 for third place, Muncie Central beat Hamilton Heights 2-1 for fifth place, and Richmond defeated International for seventh place.

The Trojans hosted Lawrence North Monday night before traveling to Mt. Vernon (Fortville) Thursday and the Warren Central Invitational Saturday.