St. Croix Central volleyball team exceeds 2011 D-SC win total in first week of 2012 matchesThe biggest smiles around St. Croix Central last week belonged to members of the Panther volleyball team.
The biggest smiles around St. Croix Central last week belonged to members of the Panther volleyball team.
After a difficult 2011 season, one of the Panthers’ main goals for this season was to top last year’s Dunn-St. Croix Conference win total. The Panthers will have to amend their goals, because they took care of that goal in their first two D-SC matches last week.
The Panthers started the D-SC schedule last Tuesday against Elmwood. In front of a home crowd, the Panthers were able to sweep Elmwood 25-21, 25-18, 25-22.
On Thursday the Panthers went to Glenwood City and scored their second win of the season over the Hilltoppers. This was another three-game sweep, with the Panthers prevailing 25-22, 25-22, 25-14.
The wins showed how the Panthers are putting the diverse skills of the players on the roster to good use. The hitting attack was led by Jessa Klinger and Kelly Harrington. Klinger topped the team with seven kills.
“Kelly really hit hard in different spots and was very successful,” said Panther co-coach Laura Lee.
The exceptional height on the Panther team helped them control much of the activity at the net. Kayla Pabst and Madison Malecek each recorded six blocks as the Panthers muffled Elmwood’s attack. Lee said Elmwood’s setter is very good and the Panthers worked on their timing so they could put up effective blocks against her high sets.
Klinger and Casey Vandusartz each scored with three ace serves and setter Laura DeSmith led the team with 10 assists.
Lee and co-coach Jenna Foley have been trying to encourage the Panthers to be more intense early in games. Lee said that when the score hits 21 the Panthers automatically take their play to a higher level, but the coaches are looking for that level earlier in games.
The positive out of that situation is that the Panthers were able to finish so successfully. Five of the six games in last week’s matches were close, but the Panthers found ways to record the win.
The middle hitters, Pabst and Malecek, put up big hitting totals in the win at Glenwood City. Brianna Danielson stepped up to give the team strong hitting from the left side.
Pabst was involved in 10 blocks in the win and Malecek was able to get her hands on six of the Toppers’ hits. Pabst and Haylee Hawke were Central’s leading servers, with three ace serves apiece.
With their first conference goal out of the way, the coaches are having the Panthers set smaller goals so they can continue to achieve more success. The next match for the Panthers is Thursday, when they head south to Pepin. The next home match for the Panthers is next Tuesday, when Plum City visits.