WAYLAND – In a rematch of their win over Wayland from the start of the season, Friday night began with the Newton South No. 5 men’s volleyball team playing flat and unfocused on all phases to end up with early deficit.
It ended with the Lions leveling the No. 6 Warriors in a fifth-set marathon.
Behind improved defense and the prowess of star hitters Jaidin Russell and John Kim, Newton South (6-2) delivered a bevy of game points from Wayland to stay alive in a gritty final frame before surviving it to a 3-2 (17-25, 25-18, 20-25, 25-21, 20-18) Dual County League victory. Russell and Kim combined for 24 kills in the fourth and fifth sets, pacing a 2-1 rally behind, while passing and defense gradually rebounded from a frustratingly slow start.
Four of those eliminations came in extra play during the fifth set, coming back from a 16-15 deficit to help set up David Smith’s winning block.
Russell finished with 28 kills and Kim added 23, overcoming a scrappy Wayland (4-5) side that saw Keita Williams and David Arenas combine for 32 digs.
“That fifth set was so cool because I think both teams played good volleyball – most of the points were won rather than someone made a mistake,” said Newton South head coach, Lucas Coffeen. “We came out super flat. … We didn’t fix it right away, but we did eventually. So it’s a good learning experience for us.
The Warriors got off to a smooth and easy start to take a 2-1 lead, using Joe Barenboym (16 kills, 2 blocks) and Joe Kelly (10 kills) as Misha Boyko (36 assists) set them up for a minimal errors. But after Newton South passer Zach Meurer (50 assists) struggled to consistently put up a good appearance for his batters and passing errors plagued the ground around him, everyone went up up a notch in the fourth and fifth sets to trigger the comeback.
A 17-13 fourth quarter deficit turned into a 25-21 win, as Meurer and Russell Lee set up Kim and Russell to take over en route to a 2-2 draw. Back and forth, the two teams exchanged blows in the decisive fifth set, all before Meurer joined Russell twice for decisive late wins for 15-15 and 16-16.
It was then that Kim kicked in twice to help establish a 19-18 lead, and Smith closed it with the block to punctuate a resilient defensive performance in a signature comeback victory.
“You can have a great offense, but without a defense you’re nothing,” Russell said. “Everyone’s defense is what mattered. Me and (Kim) can be as good players as us, but we’re only two on a field of six. Our teammates have really succeeded. »
For Wayland, it was disappointing to see a 2-1 lead in the game turn into a defeat and sweep of the season against Newton South. But the final two points barely crossed the line, leaving head coach Phil George happy with how the team challenged the Lions.
“We lost by two runs, and it was two balls that were both in play by half an inch,” he said. “As a coach, I try not to stress too much about it. I’m really happy with the way our team played. Our aim is to be on an upward trajectory throughout the season, and we played much better volleyball this time against them.