Early in the second game between Newark and North Shore Country Day, Newark’s Kelsea Zitt served a ball so wide it actually found a doorway and left the gym.
It was just about Zitt’s only bad serve on Tuesday night.
The junior had eight aces to lead a Newark team that served so aggressively all night that North Shore Country Day never became a part of the conversation, in a 25-11, 25-11 semifinal win for Newark at the Class 1A Westminster Christian Sectional.
The Lady Norsemen finished with 21 aces.
“Our coach (Tonya Grayson) wants us to focus on first contacts, serving, and serve-receive,” Zitt said. “We really served well and stepped that up.
“We wanted to play our best going into our next match.”
Newark (24-10) will play in a sectional title game Thursday against Harvest Christian, a straight-set winner over St. Francis de Sales in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
North Shore Country Day (8-11) left the gym fairly shell-shocked by Newark’s wicked, team-wide serving.
“We looked at our stats and we just couldn’t get an offense running because our passing was struggling,” Raiders coach Kelly Dietz said. “Passing is a mental game and once you get a couple hard, aggressive serves like they had, it’s easy to break down.”
Newark led 14-6 on a bevy of aces from Zitt and Rachel Lape. The Raiders cut the lead to 14-9 but Newark went on an 11-2 run to end the game, capped by another pair of aces from Zitt.
Madison Friestad took her turn at the service line in leading Newark to a 13-3 lead in Game 2. The Raiders’ Kayleigh Robertson managed a pair of aces late in the game but Newark’s lead was too big to overcome.
“We were talking a lot and encouraging each other,” Zitt said. “That was really big for us and (Grayson) just wants us to play our best and get us ready for Thursday.”
Grayson was pleased with her girls’ preparation.
“We didn’t know much about North Shore but we’re a good, aggressive serving team and I thought the girls did a great job,” Grayson said. “We had a few errors mixed in there but when you serve aggressively that’s going to happen.”
Zitt also finished with four kills, while Marissa Friestad, Lexi Zeznanski, and Lape had three apiece. Friestad also had three aces.
The Raiders will lose starting senior Kayleigh Robinson but many of this year’s starters will be back.
“Last year we made history at North Shore by getting to the sectional so it’s a repeat this year,” Dietz said. “It’s a great accomplishment. We’re still getting used to playing in this setting but it’s fun. We have a young team so hopefully we can keep developing for next year.”