by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The Central volleyball team concluded their regular season last Tuesday with a home loss to one of the top teams in the Minnesota River Conference and the state in Belle Plaine, 3-1.
Games scores were 19-25, 19-25, 26-24 and 24-26.
Central (16-11) will travel to face #4 Holy Family Catholic in Victoria tonight in Section 2AA.
They then could get a rematch with the Tigers as the winner gets the victor of Belle Plaine/Le Sueur Henderson on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. at New Prague High School. Winner of that goes to section semifinal on Thursday, Oct. 31, at Gustavus Adolphus College at 7:45 p.m., with the final on Nov. 2 at 7:45 p.m., also at Gustavus.
Belle Plaine 3, Central 1
Belle Plaine clinched the Minnesota River Conference title outright with the win over the Raiders.
After a dominant game one win, Central and Belle Plaine went back-and-forth in game two with ties at 6, 9 and 11.
The Tigers built a two-point lead which they would later expand to four at 17-21, before taking the game.
Tied at 6-6 in game three Belle Plaine opened up a 6-9 lead. Central would tie it back up again after a couple of Belle Plaine errors, leading to a tie at 11.
Nicole Miller recorded two serving aces in dominant fashion for a 14-12 lead, but the Tigers got it tied up again at 18-18, before taking a 18-20 lead.
Facing the threat of a sweep, the Raiders picked up their game as Sami Jo Brinkmann recorded a kill and served for another point for the tie. Belle Plaine answered with two quick aces, but a Megan Knickerbocker kill tied it at 22-22.
A Belle Plaine error gave the Raiders a lead, before Nicole Miller got a pair of kills down the stretch for the game three win.
Head coach Sarah Hammers said her team did well in game three.
“We started executing the game plan,” she said. “Dropping free balls short over the net, tipping into the middle of the court, seeing the court better.”
The Tigers opened up some early leads at 7-10 and 13-17, but Kaylie Brazil recorded a kill. With Natalie Stockman serving, Central rallied off three straight as Nicole Miller sandwiched a Tiger error with a pair of blocks for points and a 17-17 tie.
The game would be knotted at 18 and 20, and Belle Plaine’s Mariena Hayden had a huge kill off a Central player for a 20-22 lead before adding one more.
Hayden, along with Amara Meyer and libero Elizabeth Johnson, were key in the Belle Plaine attack providing plenty of kills and points.
“She’s a great player and she’s only a freshman, but a very strong player,” said Hammers of Hayden.
Meagan Sons answered with a kill, Brinkmann added one and Abby Forner got an ace for the tie. Belle Plaine would go on to win the game though.
“We still need to work on our blocking, but when we do what’s expected and serving to the right player we can get points,” said Hammers. “Little points, one after the other… It’s all about our passing. That’s what we got to do first.”
Nicole Miller led Central in kills with 15, while Knickerbocker added 10, Brinkmann had seven and Sons had six.
Nicole Miller also went 16-16 from the service line with two aces, while Brazil went 12-13 with two aces, Stockman went 21-22 with one ace and Forner went 11-12 with one ace. Stockman had 32 assists.
Defensively, Stockman and Nicole Miller each had four total blocks with Brinkmann recording three.
The Raiders had three players with double-digit digs as Brazil had 17 and Nicole Miller and Stockman each had 11.
Brazil had 36 service receptions, Nicole Miller had 33 and Megan Miller added 10.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.