It took a week for the St. Croix Central volleyball team to adjust to some major changes the team has undergone.
Last week, the Panthers were back to their spirited selves, nearly upsetting one of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference leaders.
The Panthers took the opening game in Thursday's home match against Colfax. The Vikings are currently second in the D-SC standings behind Elk Mound. Colfax came back to control the second and third games, but Central wasn't about to give up.
In the fourth game the Panthers led up to 20-16. Colfax then got the serve and the Panthers couldn't get it back, with Colfax finishing with a 25-20 win.
"We gave them a run for their money," Central co-coach Laura Lee said of the Panthers' performance.
The Panthers put up a strong defensive front against Colfax, led by middle hitter Kayla Pabst.
"She stopped the top hitter in the conference from scoring on us with five big blocks," Lee said.
When Colfax did get hits over the net, the Panthers dug them up most of the time. That effort was led by senior Jessa Klinger, who finished with 15 digs. Also having a big night on defense was senior Kalli Armagost, who was shifted to the libero role for this match because of an injury to Ayla Granberg.
This was the second week with sophomores Sadie Buckel and Haylee Hawke as the primary setters for the Panthers. The coaches said the team's confidence was clearly back as the girls became accustomed to the new lineup.
"We are playing more and more like a team again," Lee said. "We proved we could play together again."
In last Tuesday's match at Boyceville the Panthers lost 25-15, 25-15, 25-21. Klinger and Pabst led the defensive effort again, with Klinger recording 10 digs and Pabst scoring with four blocks. They also shared the team lead in hit kills with three each.
The Panthers were scheduled to complete their regular season on Tuesday against Elk Mound. The Panthers are scheduled to find out Thursday where they will be seeded within a seven-team WIAA Division 2 regional tournament field. The first round of WIAA tournament action will be played next Tuesday.