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Newman notches career victory No. 400

Red Wing volleyball head coach Neal Newman smiles following his 400th career victory Thursday against Northfield in Red Wing. Newman and the Wingers beat the Raiders in three sets. Photo by Nick Gerhardt1 / 4
Red Wing senior Abby Ulveling rises up for a kill Thursday against Northfield in Red Wing. Ulveling and the Wingers remained undefeated in the conference with a 3-0 victory. Photo by Nick Gerhardt2 / 4
Red Wing's Macy Kelly (No. 21) and A.J. LaFond (No. 3) leap for a block Thursday against Northfield. The Wingers picked up their third conference victory of the season with a 3-0 win over the Raiders in Red Wing. Photo by Nick Gerhardt3 / 4
Red Wing volleyball head coach Neal Newman talks with his team in between sets Thursday in Red Wing. The Wingers defeated Northfield 3-0 and Newman won his 400th career match. Photo by Nick Gerhardt4 / 4

After 29 years as head coach of the Red Wing volleyball team Neal Newman has a few milestone victories under his belt and he added another Thursday against Northfield.

Newman notched his 400th career victory with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-17 win over the Raiders in Red Wing.

After the win, Newman struggled to put the milestone in perspective.

"I don't know," Newman said. "It means I've been fortunate to have some dynamite assistant coaches. It also means I've probably been at it too long.

"I heard a quote last night on the radio and R.E.M.'s lead singer said, 'The skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' I wonder if the party is going on and it's time? But it's too early for that."

Newman became the 21st coach in the history of Minnesota State High School volleyball to win 400 career matches, according to the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association website.

"We're all really happy we could get him that 400th win," senior Abby Ulveling said. "It was nice that we could be there and be the team that did it."

The Wingers (11-9, 3-0 Missota) started off a little sloppy but the hitters did a nice job of varying their attacks, Newman said.

"Our outside hitters can really hit effectively," Newman said. "They were hitting good drives and Maggie Jonas was hitting some off-speed stuff that was scoring."

Defensively, Red Wing was caught off-guard by the Northfield service game and committed a few net fouls, mental mistakes that gave up easy points.

"Our blocks weren't sharp," senior Katie Stegora said. "Sometimes it would go deep and sometimes they'd drop it right in the middle. We just weren't expecting it."

Stegora set the tone for the Wingers, leading the team with 21 set assists while adding seven kills and three ace serves. She underwent reconstructive surgery last year to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee and is still recovering mentally from the injury. Stegora made several diving plays and her intensity was infectious, Newman said.

"We feed off her energy," Newman said. "Hustle is contagious. If someone has lead feet, then the next person has lead feet. If you're on the floor when she's on the floor, how can you not go and dive on the floor? She's out there on one leg doing it. You better be able to do that."

Newman choked back tears when thinking back to his last coaching milestone, win No. 300, with his daughter, a junior at the time, on the team. Knowing how close he was with that team and the bond he has with the current Wingers provided extra sentimental value to his 400th victory.

"I got my 300th win when my daughter was on the team and that was understandably probably my favorite," Newman said. "This is just a fun group of girls. I don't know what the right word is - coincidence maybe - that I could get number 400 with this group."

Red Wing is off until Thursday when they play at Chaska.

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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