Newton head coach Jill Kistner was a nervous wreck all day, not because Thursday's game was her team's first and her first as a head coach.
It was because against Effingham — where she used to be an assistant.
Her first match started well as Newton took the first set, 25-22, but Effingham got its act together to win the final two sets and the match, 25-17 and 25-22.
Newton came out serving aggressively, which caused Effingham trouble in the first set. Newton served for consecutive points multiple times in the first set, including streaks of five and six points at separate times, so Effingham head coach Laurie Bohnhoff made a change at libero.
Senior Josie Zerrusen, who started the game at libero so Bohnhoff could start six-foot sophomore Shelby Nunamaker, moved to the right side to start the second set and junior Madeline Mitchell took her place at libero.
Bohnhoff said the change made the team play better together and said it improved the team's passing on serves, which Zerrusen said is routinely the team's biggest challenge.
“(Mitchell) picked up my slack really well,” Zerrusen said. “She played great and picked up the team.”
Effingham trailed 8-3 in the beginning of the second set, but Mitchell brought the team back with six consecutive service points.
Kistner said Bohnhoff's switch from Zerrusen to Mitchell was great because it allowed the more athletic Zerrusen to play elsewhere on the court.
“Mitchell was great for them as libero and she picked up a lot of balls,” Kistner said. “Josie is an athlete and she's smart. She played one heck of a game.”
As Effingham's passing got better, their hitters worked around the net to break the team out to an 18-11 insurmountable lead in the second set.
Neither team trailed by more than three points in the final set, as Kistner said her team made more mistakes that cost them the game.