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Malone sets record in Newark's monster sectional win

SERENA — Madi Malone just continues to amaze with her performances on the volleyball court.

The sophomore sensation — who already owns both the single-season and career kill records at Newark High School — added yet another milestone mark to her remarkable young prep resume.

Malone produced a whopping 20 service points along with six aces as she led the Lady Norsemen to a 25-6, 25-4 thrashing of St. Francis de Sales Monday evening during the semifinal round of the Serena Class 1A Sectional.

The all-stater's half-dozen perfect serves established a new NHS school record for aces in a season by an individual player now with 75 which eclipsed the former mark that was originally set by Sammi Larson back in 2007 who fired off 73 throughout that campaign.

Malone also hammered down seven kills as the Lady Norsemen (36-2) now advance into Wednesday's Sectional championship contest versus Aurora Christian (25-8), which was a 25-18, 25-10 victor over Crete Illinois Lutheran in the night's first semifinal.

"I've relied on all my training in junior high, in club, and so far in high school to stay relaxed and confident at the service line and serve it hard enough to produce a lot of aces," Malone said. "This year I've been able to do that and I'm happy to know that I set the record but I credit my team for helping me with that. But more importantly is we got a big win tonight and now we'll be playing for a sectional championship again this year."

So dominant was the Newark effort that it allowed the Lady Pioneers (12-14) only one attack point of the 10 they registered all match. The other nine came by virtue of five Lady Norsemen service errors and four hitting miscues.

In addition to Malone's record-setting night, freshman Megan Williams swatted down a contest-best 10 kills, while junior Mattie Chapman and senior Alyssa Gittins added six and three winners respectively.

Senior setter Olivia Nelson was on point dishing out 22 assists along with serving up seven points and four aces of her own while junior libero Meggie Scott led the way defensively with nine digs as Newark was in complete command from the start.

"I told the girls before the match that everything we do, how we play, and how we control each game this week is very important," said NHS veteran coach Tonya Grayson. "I thought we did that tonight in a big way. We had some errors but overall I really liked what I saw. I knew Madi was getting pretty close for the record for aces and I was happy to see her set another one. She's been pretty amazing in every aspect of her game. Tonight was just another example of how dominating a player she can be."

Malone registered four kills throughout the opening stages of the first set as the Lady Norsemen jumped out to a 15-2 lead.

From there, Williams took over from the left side with four kills on Malone's serve, including three in a row that produced seven consecutive tallies, and eventually a 23-4 advantage. Williams then closed out the first set with two more winners, including a laser beam dagger on set point.

"Olivia's sets were just really on tonight and in warm-ups ... I think she and I had a pretty good feeling going into the match," Williams said. "Once I got those first three straight I felt I was really in the game and wanted the ball more and more."

Nelson opened set two with seven-consecutive service points and four aces before Malone hit on two more left-side kills to put her team up 12-4.

She then toed the service line and never left it rifling off 13 straight winning serves that were imbedded with five aces, including the record setter at 21-4. Williams then ended the match with a left-side kill as Newark will now battle Aurora Christian for the second time this season with everything on the line for the Sectional championship.

During the two club's first meeting on October 15 the Lady Norsemen easily defeated the Eagles 25-13, 25-19.

"We'll be prepared and ready to go come Wednesday," Grayson said. "We handled them pretty well at our place a couple of weeks ago, but we know it probably won't be that easy a second time. I know the girls will be ready to do battle and they'll leave everything on the court I can promise you that."

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