St. Croix Central volleyball team closes conference season with victory
The tumultuous season of St. Croix Central volleyball reached one of its highest points in the Panthers’ Dunn-St. Croix Conference finale last Tuesday.
The Panthers went to Elmwood and were in charge from the outset, defeating the Raiders 25-12, 25-20, 25-18 in the match. The win is the second of the D-SC season for the Panthers and leaves them in eighth place in the 10-team conference final standings.
Central coach Laura Lee recognized right away that the Panthers were playing well, so she kept the same girls on the court for most of the match. Lee said it was good to see the girls playing with a smooth flow as they worked together well in the win.
This was a match where the Panthers were able to overpower the Raiders. Central finished with 23 kills, compared to 13 for Elmwood. Madison Malecek led the Panthers with 10 kills. Rachel Larson, a recent call-up from the junior varsity, delivered five kills from her left-side hitter role.
“Nothing fazes her and she’s a good back-row player,” Lee said of Larson.
The strong play at the net included blocking. Malecek and Abby Harrington combined for 14 solo blocks.
Elmwood had difficulty throughout the match handling the Panthers’ serves. The Panthers scored a season-high 14 ace serves. Breanna Danielson delivered six of those aces and Haylee Hawke had five. Hawke was perfect from the service line, putting all 15 of her serves in play. Larson was on target with all 13 of her serves, which included two aces.
The strong play at the net was augmented by some of Central’s best defensive play of the season. The Panthers kept their serve receive errors to a minimum, with Sadie Buckel and Larson leading that aspect of the attack. The Panthers also came up with numerous digs, led by 25 from Buckel. Hawke, Danielson and Larson were also in double figures for digs.
The Panthers were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 2 regional tournament action on Tuesday with a match at New Richmond. The Panthers are the seventh seed in the regional tournament bracket while New Richmond was the second seed. The winner of Tuesday’s match will be in action again this Thursday, facing the winner of Tuesday’s match between Baldwin-Woodville and Somerset.