With 4-3 week, Central volleyball starts to put it together for conference play

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


It is starting to come together for the Central volleyball team, as the Warriors went 4-3 last week and are progressing as a unit heading into conference play. 


The Warriors started in a triangular at Starmont on Sept. 8, dropping both sets to the host team by scores of 25-13 and 25-17. 


Lizzie Royer accounted for all 13 assists, and Lexi Loan led the team with six kills, followed by Katelyn Scherf with three. 


The defense came up with four blocks, including two from Loan, and totaled 49 digs. Three players finished with double-digit digs: Tori Sylvester with 12 and Loan and Aly Feickert each with 10. 


From the service line, Central hit four aces—two from both Feickert and Sylvester—and finished with a 93.5 percent serve efficiency. 


The outcome was a bit different in the next match against Cedar Valley Christian, but the Warriors had to fight hard to achieve the victory. Central won the first set 26-24, lost the second 25-22, but pulled out the win with a 15-6 third set victory. 


The Warriors accumulated 26 kills, led by Loan with seven and Sylvester with four. Gracie Cummer, Scherf, Feickert and Alivia Wiley each tallied three. Royer had 25 of the team’s 26 assists.


The defense had no blocks in the match, but came up with 46 digs. Twelve were from Feickert, eight from Loan and Sylvester and five from Royer and Scherf. 


Central also compiled a season-high 12 ace serves, with Loan hitting three and Sylvester, Royer, Scherf and Feickert earning two apiece. 


The Warriors rode that win into the tournament at Jesup on Sept. 10, where they played a total of five games. 


Before the tournament, coach Kelly Erickson made a point to assemble a rotation that would work well together as the season continues. Overall, the Warriors finished the tournament 3-2, and Erickson was “happy with how the girls played.”  


The Warriors started against a tough North Linn team, losing both sets 21-11 and 21-7. 


The stats were down from the win over Cedar Valley, as Royer finished with just four assists and the team had only four kills, three of them from Loan. 


The defense netted two blocks and 29 digs, with Loan getting one block and eight digs. Feickert picked up seven digs and Royer added five. 


The service line was unkind to the Warriors, as they hit just one ace from Royer and finished with 76.5 percent efficiency. 


“Even though we didn’t win, the girls were passing the ball better. The one thing we will continue to work on is our offense and becoming more efficient in our offense,” Erickson said.   


Central started well in the next match against Jesup, winning the first set 21-14, but dropped the next two 21-14 and 15-4. 


Stepping in to play in the tournament was junior Brooklyn Amsden on offense and freshman Oakley Armstrong on defense. Amsden finished with four kills and two digs, while Armstrong ended with two digs. 


As for the rest of the lineup, Royer had 15 of the team’s 16 assists and Loan had a team-high six kills, followed by Sylvester with four. 


Defensively, the Warriors managed two blocks, one by Cummer and another from Sylvester, and totaled 45 digs. Sylvester was responsible for 13 and Loan had 12. 


Loan also had both aces, as the Warriors finished with an 82.1 percent serve efficiency. 


After the Jesup game, the Warriors took on South Winneshiek. 


“We came out ready to play and won in two,” Erickson said. “We did miss more serves in that game than I would like us to, but we also had five aces in the two sets.” 


Royer finished with five of the six total assists. The team compiled six kills, led by Amsden with three. 


The defense came away with two blocks, one by Cummer and one by Feickert. The team also had 48 digs, led by Sylvester with 14 and Loan with 10. 


The five aces were hit by four players, Loan, Sylvester, Feickert and Royer, who finished with two. Central had an overall serve efficiency of 87.2 percent. 


In the next match against West Central, sophomore Kirstin Farmer stepped in and finished with a team-high eight assists and two kills, helping lead the Warriors to victory by scores of 22-20 and 21-16. 


“In the West Central match, Sylvester did a great job serving for us, serving 16 for 16 with two aces. Our passing was much better this match as well. Farmer was also 8 for 8 and freshman Armstrong was 5 for 5 with one ace,” Erickson said. “Both sets were very close, but we did a great job of staying positive and working hard together as a team.” 


Additionally, Cummer finished with two assists, as she and Farmer filled in for Royer, and the Warriors netted 11 kills. Cummer and Feickert had three each. 


The defense stepped up with five blocks, including two from Cummer and Sylvester. They compiled 48 digs as well, led by Loan with 12, Sylvester with 11 and Feickert with nine. 


Along with Farmer and Armstrong, Sylvester hit two aces and went 16-16 from the service line, while the team finished with a 95.2 percent efficiency. 


The Warriors finished the tournament against Alburnett, who Erickson said was “a team that we knew we could beat.” 


Central lost a close first set 21-18, before settling in and winning the next two, 21-16 and 15-10.  


Farmer led the team with 11 assists, after stepping into the setter position in the last two matches of the day. The team also finished with 12 kills, led by Loan with four and Amsden and Feickert with three apiece.


Cummer accounted for two of Central’s three blocks, and Sylvester added one. The team collected 36 digs, with Sylvester and Feickert both snagging 11. 


Armstrong did a great job serving, going a perfect 11 for 11 with two aces, while Cummer was 10 for 10 and Feickert was also 10 for 10 with one ace. Farmer was 8 for 8 with two aces. 


The Warriors had just two service errors in all three sets, for 96 percent efficiency, which was a huge improvement. 


“The girls never gave up and worked really hard to come away with this win,” Erickson said. “We continue to work on what group of girls work best together on the floor. I think, this weekend, we came up with a rotation that worked well for us. We do have some girls who have to be gone from practice/tournaments/matches at various times, and we have had some girls who have really stepped up to help out and play really well in those positions.” 


As the Warriors move into conference play with an overall record of 6-15, Erickson remains confident in the team’s ability and chances to win the conference. 


“I know that, if the girls play like they can play, we can compete with any team in our conference,” she said. “I know we have also played a lot more than any team in our conference. We have already had three tournaments and played 46 sets, [and] I think this gives us the upper hand against teams who are still trying to work out the kinks in their rotations. I think they are realizing they can play with anyone if they continue to work hard and not give up.” 


The Warriors started conference play Sept. 13, at West Central. They’ll then host Clayton Ridge on Thursday, Sept. 15. 

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