by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The Central volleyball squad started their season last Tuesday night with a sweep of Lester Prairie at home, 25-17, 25-14, and 25-13.
Head coach Sarah Hammers credited her team for the way they came out from the onset, considering it was parents night.
“Great way to start the season,” she said. “Got all the nerves out, our seniors got parents night in so they could get that. I was really happy with the way everybody played.”
Sami Jo Brinkmann was the standout server all night for the Raiders as her power led to large strings of points, starting early in game one.
After the teams see-sawed to a 4-4 tie, Brinkmann led the Raiders to 10 straight points while recording several aces to put Central ahead, 14-4.
“The thing about her serves is she’s smart,” Hammers said of Brinkmann. “When she drops that short serve right over the net, she works on that all the time in practice and does a great job. So, great leadership for Sami.”
Brinkmann later made a nice tip shot kill away from the Bulldogs and Nicole Miller recorded a kill for an 18-7 lead. The Bulldogs would rally a bit at the end of the game to cut the deficit to 24-17, but Meagan Sons recorded a kill for the win.
The two teams went back and forth for much of the second game and the Raiders found themselves up 16-13 partway through.
Central was able to pull away though. With Miller serving, Brinkmann recorded a kill, the Bulldogs hit it out of bounds and Miller recorded an ace to expand the lead to 19-13.
“We picked up the passing,” said Brinkmann. “Once we get the passing together, everything can just go smoothly from there.”
After the Bulldogs recorded a point, Brinkmann recorded four aces and another serve left the Bulldogs out of position and unable to recover in time.
Brinkmann said her time spent in practice is paying off, as she can hit her spots and get good angles.
Central carried the momentum into the second game, building leads of 8-4, 14-8 and 18-10, before expanding it to 21-10 with Megan Miller serving. Nicole Miller and Brinkmann then served the Raiders to the 25-14 win and the sweep.
“I think it’s a good building block for us just to keep progressing from the win and just stay on top of the game,” said Brinkmann.
Miller led the Raiders with 11 kills, while Brinkmann had nine, Megan Knickerbocker five, Meagan Sons three, and Megan Geis, Alli Curson, Ashley Luskey and Kaylie Brazil each had one. Natalie Stockman was the leading setter for the Raiders with 19 assists, while Jennifer Oelfke had five, Abby Forner four and Sons three.
Brinkmann led the Raiders in serving, going 21-for-23 (.913) with eight aces, while Stockman went a perfect 14-for-14, Brazil went 12-for-13 (.923) with an ace and Nicole Miller went 11-for-12 (.917) with three aces. Sons also recorded an ace.
Defensively, Brazil led Central with 10 digs, while Stockman and Nicole Miller each had nine, Megan Miller had five, Megan Geis and Luskey each two, and Brinkmann and Carley Vinkemeier had one apiece. Also, Nicole Miller had four blocks, while Brinkmann and Knickerbocker each had three, Sons two and Luskey one.
Central next played at Glencoe-Silver Lake on Tuesday, Sept. 3, and will open conference season hosting Mayer Lutheran on Thursday, before traveling to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted for a tournament this Saturday and hosting Jordan on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
“We got Glencoe first day of school and then Mayer for our first conference game, it’s going to be big,” said Hammers.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.