Central’s season ends at Jordan

Above, middle hitter Brooke Willemsen goes for a kill against Jordan during Central’s 3-1 season-ending loss on Thursday, Oct. 25. Photo by Paul Downer

They didn’t go without a fight, but the Raiders’ volleyball season came to a close in a 3-1 subsection quarterfinal loss at Jordan last Thursday, Oct. 25.

After two losses to the Jaguars during the regular season, the outcome wasn’t necessarily a surprise. But the Raiders proved during the match that when they stuck to their game plan they were capable of playing with their MRC rival for significant stretches of time.

After a 25-14 loss in the opening set, the Raiders picked up their intensity and began taking the match to Jordan in a 25-22 second set victory, using a .372 hitting percentage to help control the pace. The Jaguars recovered from that counterpunch, however, and posted a 25-19 win in the third set, then took a commanding 18-6 lead in the fourth set.

With just seven points separating them from elimination, the Raiders rallied again and outscored Jordan 10-7 the remainder of the way. The deficit was too big to overcome, however, and the season ended with 25-16 loss.

“What really made me proud is how they did not give up. They stayed together as a team,” said Raiders head coach Sarah Hammers. “That’s what I’ve said all year about these girls. They compete. They’re competitors in basketball and softball and track. And that’s what they brought to the volleyball team.”

Hammers said the high point of the match was Central’s second set victory.

“We were placing the ball, we were tipping, we were rolling — we were doing the game plan,” she said. “The only part we didn’t do is that we were still serving to the libero. If we could have [played like we did that second game] two more times it would have been perfect, but it is what it is. Hitting .372 in the second game, we have to get to the level where we’re always doing that to compete in this conference.”

Nicole Miller led the team with 16 kills, two aces and 27 digs in the match. Lexi Erpenbach had 15 kills and an ace, and Sami Jo Brinkmann had 12 kills with the team’s highest hitting percentage (.458). She also had two blocks from her middle position.

Setter Natalie Stockman had 27 assists with 13 digs, and Abby Forner added 12 assists.

Libero Kaylie Brazil matched Miller with 27 digs.

With the first round playoff exit, the Raiders finished the season with a 12-12 overall record, slightly better than last year’s 12-13 mark.

“We need to improve on that for next year. We’ll have six girls coming back that have played in more than half the games,” said Hammers. “They need to step up next year.”