by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Late Addition: Central volleyball lost to Belle Plaine on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in the last game of the regular season. Seeded #5, Central (16-11) will travel to face #4 Holy Family Catholic in Victoria on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Section 2AA.
The winner will face the winner of Belle Plaine/Le Sueur Henderson on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. at New Prague High School.
With the regular season winding down, Central volleyball split a pair of matches, defeating Sibley East at home last Tuesday, 3-1, and losing to Jordan on the road on Thursday, 3-0.
The Raiders played their last match of the regular season on Tuesday, hosting Belle Plaine.
Central 3, Sibley East 1
Central defeated Sibley East at home on senior night last Tuesday in a Minnesota River Conference matchup. Game scores were 22-25, 25-23, 25-20 and 25-21.
Ahead 2-1 after three tense games, the Wolverines seemed searching for a fifth game as they went up 4-0.
Kaylie Brazil recorded a kill to end the string and Nicole Miller stepped up her game, getting an ace to make it 3-5.
Later, with Megan Miller serving, Meagan Sons recorded a pair of two-handed points to make it 7-9.
Down 11-13 midway through, Megan Knickerbocker recorded a kill and, with Natalie Stockman serving, Nicole Miller got a pair of kills, Knickerbocker got another one and Abby Forner got one also to put the Raiders ahead 15-14.
Central later expanded the lead to 21-17 and recorded three straight points to put the game out of reach, all with Megan Miller serving, who was 20-for-20 on the night.
Nicole Miller, who had a team-leading 17 kills, said she exaggerated her approach to help the team in the later stages.
“Obviously I didn’t have a strong start but I pushed through the end,” she said. “I picked myself up and I did it for my team and positives came out of it.”
Coach Sarah Hammers agreed.
“She didn’t have probably her strongest showing, but at the end when we needed it she stepped up,” said Hammers. “Natalie (Stockman) did a great job delivering the ball and getting it to her right where she needed it.”
The Raiders started the match a bit slow with neither team gaining much of an advantage in the early going. After a tie at 12-12, the Wolverines’ largest lead the rest of the way was four before the game win.
“I think we realized that they weren’t going to give us as much as we thought,” said Miller. “We get frustrated in ourselves and just kind of break down. In the second game, we learned to push each other and worked together as a team. It’s more of the communication and the hustle we put into it.”
Central stormed out to a strong start in the second game, opening up a 10-5 advantage with Abby Forner, who had nine kills, recorded a pair of kills during the opening points.
The Wolverines closed the deficit, getting to within one at 13-12 before the teams exchanged points.
Down 20-21, Grace Wickenhauser recorded a kill to tie the game. Later, after a service error put Central ahead 24-23, Wickenhauser, who had 10 kills, got the finishing kill for the win.
Central got three quick points to start game three behind a pair of kills by Sami Jo Brinkmann and would hold that advantage during a back-and-forth game.
Ahead 21-20 late, Sons got a kill before a couple of errors by the Wolverines and Knickerbocker, who also had 10 kills, got one to finish the game for the 2-1 advantage before the game four win.
In addition to Megan Miller, Natalie Stockman had a good night at the service line, going 17-18 with an ace, while Nicole Miller went 14-15 with an ace, Wickenhauser went 10-12 with an ace, and Ashley Luskey went 7-7 with an ace. Stockman also had 47 assists.
Defensively, Knickerbocker had four total blocks and Nicole Miller had three. Four Raiders finished in double-figures in digs with Stockman leading the way with 31, followed by Brazil and Nicole Miller each with 28 and Wickenhauser had 19. Megan Miller added nine.
Brazil led in service receptions with 33, while Nicole Miller had 18, Wickenhauser had 12 and Megan Miller had 11.
Hammers said expected the games were going to be close with Sibley East.
“It’s just one of those things,” she said. “Sami’s hurting with her knee so we had a different lineup out there. Things are different. It’s close all the time. It doesn’t matter who we play in our conference in our section, it’s going to be a tough game.”
Hammers was pleased with the way her team played to get the sectional and MRC win, as it could put them ahead of Le Sueur-Henderson, who they lost to previously, or even Holy Family.
“It might help a little bit there, but we got to come out Thursday and fight too against Jordan,”
A total of eight seniors were honored before the game including Nicole Miller, Natalie Stockman, Anna Willems, Jennifer Oelfke, Meagan Sons, Sami Jo Brinkmann, Abby Forner and Ashley Luskey.
Nicole Miller said the win on senior night was special and could help her team going forward.
“It means that I have faith in my team more and we can go farther in the season like we hope to go all the way,” she said.
Jordan 3, NYA 0
Central was swept by Jordan on Thursday on the road. Game scores were 18-25, 21-25 and 23-25.
Nicole Miller led the team in kills with nine, while Sami Jo Brinkmann had six and Natalie Stockman had five.
Stockman, who had 17 assists, excelled from the service line, going 17-17 with two aces, while Megan Miller went 11-11 with an ace, Brinkmann went 12-12 and Nicole Miller and Grace Wickenhauser each recorded aces as well.
Defensively, Stockman had three total blocks while Megan Knickerbocker had two.
Kaylie Brazil led the Raiders in digs with 17 while Nicole Miller had nine and Megan Miller and Stockman each had eight.
Three Raiders had double-digit service receptions, including Brazil with 21, Megan Miller with 16 and Nicole Miller with 10.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]