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Undefeated Bombers upset Esko 3-1 in volleyball

ESKO, Minn. - Since beginning her volleyball career back in sixth grade, Barnum's Katrina Newman has never defeated Esko. Ever. That all changed for the senior captain Tuesday night. The 6-foot outside hitter guided her Bombers with match-high 21...

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Barnum senior Katrina Newman tips a ball over the net toward Esko's Keely Deadrick and Janae Beaudot Tuesday in Esko. Paul Gregersen/Pine Journal

ESKO, Minn. - Since beginning her volleyball career back in sixth grade, Barnum's Katrina Newman has never defeated Esko. Ever.

That all changed for the senior captain Tuesday night.

The 6-foot outside hitter guided her Bombers with match-high 21 kills and 10 digs, as Barnum upset Esko 3-1 (19-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-18) in a Polar League clash of undefeated conference clubs in Esko Tuesday.

"I don't think Barnum volleyball has ever beaten Esko," said Katrina Newman, who recently verbally committed to play basketball at University of Minnesota Duluth. "Tonight was awesome."

Early on things looked dim for the Bombers, as they lost the first game 25-19, before finding themselves down by ten halfway through game two. But a 20-8 run sparked Barnum to a 26-24 win. They never trailed after midway through the third, taking games three and four 25-22 and 25-18 en route to the biggest volleyball win in recent memory.

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"We knew we could comeback against them," said Katrina Newman. "We've done it against teams already this season and knew that we could do it again tonight. And that's what we did."

Her mother and coach, Corina Newman, was just as thrilled.

"It was the first time I've ever beaten them," said sixth-year Barnum head coach Corina Newman. "I was very proud of the girls and how they stuck in there tonight. They just kept fighting and it really showed out on the court."

Barnum's upset win was also aided by senior captain Jenna Zmyslony, as the outside hitter connected on eight kills; while junior setter and younger sister of Katrina, Jessica Newman, racked up 34 set assists. The win improved the Bombers' perfect season mark to 13-0 (6-0), as they now sit alone atop the Polar League.

"This was the best I've seen our girls play all fall," said Corina Newman. "It was such a big win for our girls."

Esko was paced by their captains, as lone senior middle hitter Kayla Handevidt buried a match-leading 21 kills, collected four service aces and blocked three balls, while junior setter Keely Deadrick tallied a match-high 44 set assists and posted three aces in the defeat. The loss is the first for the Eskomos since Sept. 1, while their 16-match conference win streak was snapped. Their record now sits at 11-2 (4-1).

"Tonight was a big match for us and we didn't play consistent volleyball," said Esko head coach Desiree DeLeon. "These rivalries are fun to play in, but the girls just didn't step up."

"The girls just made too many mistakes," DeLeon said. "We weren't mentally tough tonight and the girls will just have to come back from this loss."

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A pair of five-game losses to Esko in 2007 and 2008 gave the Bombers the inspiration they needed to keep up with the high-powered Eskomos, as their defensive efforts stole the show in a back-and-forth match that included 24 lead changes and 20 ties.

"I told the girls that if we played good defense, we could win," said Corina Newman. "We've been doing it all season long and nothing changed tonight. The girls simply played great."

With the win marking many firsts for the Barnum volleyball program, a first-ever state tournament appearance doesn't look far out of reach for the Bombers this coming November.

"What we did tonight is what we have been doing all season, sticking together and giving it our all," Katrina Newman said. "For Barnum volleyball, this is definitely our year."

Both teams will stay in conference action Thursday, Oct. 1, as the Bombers host Floodwood at 7 p.m., while the Eskomos welcome Silver Bay to town at 6:30 p.m. Barnum and Esko will also hit the court at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, as the Bombers travel to the Duluth East Invitational, while the Eskomos head north to take part in the Virginia Invitational.

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