Central volleyball team drops final games heading into playoffs

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Katie Royer receives the ball off an NFV serve during Central’s 3-0 loss on Oct. 12. (Photo by Jarod Bormann)

Tori Sylvester tips the ball over the net against the TigerHawks. (Photo by Bev Hamann)

Mackayla Vlazny collects one of her 24 digs against South Winn. (Photo by Bev Hamann)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central volleyball team last week finished off its  regular season with two formidable conference opponents, starting with a road game against South Winneshiek on Oct. 10. 


Heading into the game, coach Kelly Erickson knew South Winneshiek was a “powerful hitting” team, and the first set was a testament to that. Central had all it could handle to secure a 29-27 victory with “unwavering determination and resilience,” said Erickson. 


The second set was more of the same, but this time, despite their best efforts, offensive presence, and teamwork, Central lost the set 26-24. 


“Even in the face of this close set loss, our confidence remained strong. We showcased our strength at the net, demonstrating resilience and skill in our attacks and defensive plays. Our team chemistry was exceptional, evident in our ability to stay united and focused throughout the match,” Erickson said. 


Central continued the strong hitting in the next two sets, but old challenges returned, namely serving and serve reception, as the Warriors missed a total of 15 serves. That proved critical to the outcome of the sets, both won 25-15 by South Winneshiek, handing the Warriors a 3-1 loss. 


Central’s offense was anchored by Tori Sylvester and Lizzie Royer, with both tallying 11 kills, followed by Brooklyn Amsden’s six. Katie Royer led the team with 10 assists, while L. Royer had seven. 


On the defensive front, Mackayla Vlazny led the team with 24 digs, and Sylvester totaled 15. L. Royer secured 14 digs and Oakley Armstrong chipped in 10. Amsden and L. Royer had one block apiece.


In addition to her defensive prowess, Vlazny showcased her serving, going 16-18 with an ace. Sylvester was also proficient at the service line, going 13-14 with one ace. 


“The collective efforts of our team, both on offense and defense, underscored the hard work and determination that each player brought to the match, highlighting the strength and versatility of our team as a whole,” Erickson commented.


Central’s final regular season game was Oct. 12 versus the eventual conference champion, North Fayette Valley. The Warriors started the game by honoring the team’s seven seniors and got off to a fast start, even leading the opening set for a good portion, but narrowly lost 25-23. After the first set, the Warriors were undone by defensive struggles at the net against the strong hitting TigerHawks, which caused difficulties securing digs. 


The offense had its own set of challenges, notably 23 hitting errors. Serve receive also continued to plague the Warriors in the final two sets, which they ultimately lost 25-14 and 25-16. 


“Despite the outcome, this experience provided valuable insights for us to work on and areas to focus on as we head into regional play. We recognized the strength of our opponent and acknowledged the need to enhance our defensive strategies, minimize errors and improve our overall performance, especially in critical aspects like serve receive and offensive execution,” Erickson said.


The offense was led by Sylvester, who emerged with five kills. L. Royer, Armstrong and Amsden each contributed three kills. 


“Their combined performance demonstrated our team’s unity and collaboration on the attacking front,” Erickson said. 


L. Royer had eight assists, while K. Royer finished with seven. 


Sylvester continued to make an impact defensively, leading the team with nine digs, followed by Vlazny with eight. Armstrong and L. Royer secured six digs each. K. Royer and Amsden had one block each. 


Vlazny was perfect serving, going 11-11 with an ace, and Sylvester was 7-7 with an ace. 


“While it was disappointing to end our regular season with these two losses, we can take pride in the strength and determination we displayed against tough opponents. As we head into regionals on Monday, we will use these experiences to fine-tune our skills and improve our consistency,” Erickson said. 


The Warriors finished the regular season with an overall record of 10-20 and a conference record of 5-3. They hosted the Valley Lutheran Crusaders (0-14) in the Class 1A Region 6 first round playoff match-up on Oct. 16. Results from this game will be included in next week’s edition.

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