St. Croix Central volleyball team gives seniors a splendid sendoffThe seniors on the St. Croix Central volleyball team enjoyed a memorable Senior Night last Thursday.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The seniors on the St. Croix Central volleyball team enjoyed a memorable Senior Night last Thursday.
Playing in their final home match, the Panthers played one of their finest matches of the 2011 season, upsetting Boyceville in four games.
The win was the second of the season for the Panthers in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play. They were scheduled to close out their conference schedule this Tuesday with a match at Colfax.
What helped make the win over Boyceville more memorable was that it was not an easy win. The Panthers were pushed to their breaking point several times, but they never gave in. The Panthers have been a team that played as well as anyone this season until the scores reached the 20s. The Panthers had a tendency to panic late in games and see leads slip away.
On Thursday the Panthers withstood Boyceville’s charges late in games. Boyceville took a lead early in the first game, but the Panthers remained calm and steadily made their way back. When Boyceville tried to take the lead in the first game, the Panthers didn’t buckle. They held on for a 25-22 win.
The second game was the Panthers’ most complete effort. With the serve receive working well, the Panther attack clicked. They had a variety of hitters who put away kills in the game. Boyceville tried another comeback late in the game, but Central confidently stood up to the challenge, winning 25-21.
The third game saw the Panthers’ play backslide severely. Boyceville won the game 25-9 and the shock of that loss carried into the fourth game.
The Panthers trailed by as many as eight points in the fourth game. This time, it was the Panthers’ turn for a comeback and Boyceville couldn’t stop it. The Panthers surged back to score a 25-18 victory.
Panther coach Kerrie Been said the mental strength the Panthers showed to finish off the wins in their three victories shows the progress the team has made this season.
“It wasn’t just one or two girls that played well. It was everybody,” Been said.
She was especially happy that the seniors had such a stirring performance to remember from their final home match. The seniors on the team are Alayna Bodelson, Jenna Buckel, Melanne Hill, Alyssa Melby, Kinzi McNamara and Ashley Vermeersch. All seven of the seniors contributed to the win against Boyceville.
The most volatile part of the Panthers’ game this season has been its passing. Other than a few errant passes at the start of the first game and a rough third game, the Panthers were reliable in their passing. Been said the team has a goal of scoring 2.0 on a 3.0 scale in its passing in each match. In this match they were able to meet that goal. Been said the passing was led by Buckel, the team’s libero.
“Jenna has really stepped up her game,” Been said. Been said Buckel has improved her pass receiving form, learning to stay low and get under the ball at a better angle. Buckel also led the team with 10 digs in the win.
Another senior who performed well in the back row was Kinzi McNamara. Been said McNamara had a difficult night in the Panthers’ previous match at Spring Valley. Instead of letting that memory carry into her next match, McNamara put up some well-placed passes against Boyceville.
One of the staples for the Panther attack lately has been serving. They only missed two serves against Boyceville and just one in the loss at Spring Valley. Junior Kalli Armagost was the most lethal server on Thursday, scoring with four ace serves. Laura DeSmith had 17 serves without an error and Buckel was perfect on 13 serves, including two aces. The Panthers collected nine aces as a team.
Sophomore Kayla Pabst led the Panthers’ hitting attack, scoring with six kills. Melby led the Panther blockers with 12 total blocks, including two solo kills.
The win was also special for Coach Been, who is a Boyceville graduate.
The win was a nice salve for the Panthers after their loss at Spring Valley last Tuesday. Spring Valley won the opening two games in one-sided scores, 25-13 and 25-15. The Panthers came back to get the third game, 25-23, but Spring Valley took the fourth game 25-23.
With the regular season concluding early next week, the Panthers will turn their attention to the WIAA Division 2 tournament schedule. The first round of regional tournament play begins on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Seeding is supposed to be announced later this week. The Panthers will likely start tournament play on the road. This is an extremely strong regional bracket, with four teams (Somerset, Bloomer, Altoona and Baldwin-Woodville) playing for conference championships this week.