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Trojans sweep past Wildcats

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New Castle’s Melani Shaffmaster gets ready to serve against visiting Lawrence North during Monday night’s volleyball match in the Fieldhouse. Shaffmaster, the team’s captain, had four kills, five service aces, four digs, and 28 assists in the host Trojans’ three-set sweep over the Wildcats.
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New Castle’s Mabrey Shaffmaster (9) slams the ball against the block attempt of Lawrence North’s Kimora Whetstone (10) and Ashleigh White (5) while the Trojans’ Nicole Wilkinson (14) and the Wildcats’ Ashlee Goodpaster (18) watch during Monday night’s volleyball match in the Fieldhouse. Shaffmaster had 14 kills and three service aces while Wilkinson had six kills and five service aces during New Castle’s three-set sweep.
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New Castle’s libero Zoe Conway (4), Bailey Cox (16), and Ashley Wilkinson (2) await a serve from visiting Lawrence North during Monday night’s volleyball match in the Fieldhouse. Conway had 10 digs, five service aces, and two assists while Cox had four kills, six digs, and two assists in the host Trojans’ three-set sweep over the Wildcats.
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New Castle’s Caitlin Shunneson (11) pounds the ball past the block attempt of Lawrence North’s Kimora Whetstone (10) and Adrianne Vance (15) as Trojan teammates Bailey Cox (16), Laila Smith (8), and Zoe Conway (4) watch during Monday night’s volleyball match in the Fieldhouse. New Castle defeated the visiting Wildcats in straight sets 25-10, 25-12, 25-12.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Fresh off its victory in its own invitational on Saturday, the New Castle High School volleyball team hosted Class 4A Lawrence North Monday night in the Fieldhouse and had little trouble defeating the visiting Wildcats in straight sets 25-10, 25-12, 25-12 to improve to 15-3 for the season.

The match took only 45 minutes of actual playing time to complete.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of focusing on the task at hand,” New Castle Coach Sarah Roush said afterward. “We set some goals for the final two sets and I think we accomplished them. We are still looking to have a sense of urgency on every play, and that will be our focus moving forward.”

The Trojans started off well in the first set, taking a 4-0 lead on a kill and point from area kills leader Mabrey Shaffmaster, a Zoe Conway service ace, and a wide hit by the visitors.

A kill by Lawrence North’s Ashleigh White and a long hit by the hosts enabled the Wildcats to halve their deficit to 4-2, but Mabrey Shaffmaster registered two kills, a block and a service ace to help propel New Castle on a 6-1 run and 10-3 advantage, prompting a timeout by the visitors.

A hitting error coming out of the break gave the hosts an 11-3 lead, but four Trojan hitting miscues over the next five points enabled Lawrence North to pull back to within 12-7. From there, New Castle went on an 8-0 run on two kills apiece from Mabrey Shaffmaster and Bailey Cox, a kill by Laila Smith, and three service aces from Melani Shaffmaster for a 20-7 lead.

A Charity McDowell kill stopped the bleeding temporarily for Lawrence North, but back-to-back kills by Graci Bowers, a Smith kill, an Emily Scott service ace, and a kill by Nicole Wilkinson put set one in the Trojans’ pocket after just 14minutes of play.

The Wildcats got the first point of the second set on a wide hit by the hosts, but back-to-back service aces from Conway, kills from Caitlin Shunneson and Mabrey Shaffmaster, and back-to-back aces by Nicole Wilkinson staked New Castle to a 9-4 lead.

Lawrence North didn’t throw in the towel, as a Trojan mistake and and kills by Adrianne Vance and Kimora Whetstone pulled the visitors back to within 9-7. Cox and Vance exchanged kills and New Castle led 12-9.

But then Melani Shaffmaster made that play for a tip that almost nobody can stop, Shunneson had a kill, and Mabrey Shaffmaster had two more kills, one emphatic, to build a 16-9 advantage for the hosts.

The Wildcats came no closer than six points the rest of the way. Ahead 19-12, another Melani Shaffmaster tip, a Bowers kill, consecutive service aces from Nicole Wilkinson, and two Lawrence North hitting errors allowed the Trojans to take set two after 15 minutes.     

A Vance kill and carry violation on New Castle enabled Lawrence North to grab a 2-0 lead in the third set, but kills from Mabrey Shaffmaster and Nicole Wilkinson and two Wildcat miscues gave the Trojans a 4-2 advantage and the lead for good.

A kill and ace from Mabrey Shaffmaster and a Nicole Wilkinson kill increased the margin to 8-4, but the visitors pulled back to within 9-7 after kills by McDowell and Vance.

New Castle then got kills from Cox and Shunneson, two Melani Shaffmaster service aces, a Smith kill, and three points off Wildcat errors to go on an 8-0 run and build a 17-7 advantage. Three kills from Vance offset one by Shunneson to pull Lawrence North to within 18-10.

But kills by Mabrey Shaffmaster, Nicole Wilkinson, and Bowers plus service aces from Conway and Scott helped the Trojans go on a 7-2 run to end set three after 16 minutes and win the match 3-0.

“We wanted to carry the success we had on Saturday over to tonight, and I think we did a good job of staying focused in this match,” Conway said. “We have a big week coming up and wanted to set the tone tonight. It’s so much fun playing on this team with your friends and it’s an experience I’ll always remember. We have a lot of tough matches coming up and plan to take them one at a time to reach our ultimate goal.”

For New Castle, Mabrey Shaffmaster had 14 kills, Nicole Wilkinson six, Shunneson and Cox five apiece, Melani Shaffmaster and Bowers four each, and Smith three. Conway, Nicole Wilkinson, and Melani Shaffmaster had five service aces apiece, Mabrey Shaffmaster three, and Scott one. Melani Shaffmaster had 28 assists and Conway and Cox added two apiece.

On defense for the Trojans, Conway had 10 digs, Cox six, Mabrey and Melani Shaffmaster four apiece, and Nicole Wilkinson, Smith, Shunneson, and Bowers one each. Mabrey Shaffmaster had two blocks and Nicole Wilkinson, Melani Shaffmaster, and Smith one apiece.

New Castle also won the junior varsity match 25-19, 25-22.

The Trojans play a Hoosier Heritage Conference match Thursday at Mt. Vernon (Fortville) and compete in the Warren Central Invitational Saturday.

“The match against Mt. Vernon should be fun,” Roush added. “And then on Saturday, our first match will be against Hamilton Southeastern who beat us earlier this season. We’re excited about getting another crack at them.”