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St. Croix Central volleyball team forced to do mid-season reset

Central senior Kalli Armagost prepares to deliver a serve during last Thursday's match against Spring Valley.

Last week was filled with unplanned readjustments for the St. Croix Central volleyball team.

The previous Friday, senior team captain Laura DeSmith decided to leave the team. As a three-year setter and one of the best defensive players in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, DeSmith's departure left the Panthers with a major retooling in the middle of a busy season.

With last week spent in transition, the Panthers lost their conference matches played against Plum City and Spring Valley. They lost to Plum City 25-21, 25-13, 25-13 on Tuesday. They put up a good fight against Spring Valley, but lost 26-24, 25-21, 25-21 on Thursday.

The players most directly affected by DeSmith's departure are sophomores Haylee Hawke and Sadie Buckel, who were splitting time at the setter position opposite DeSmith.

"We have great setters, they just don't have the experience," said Panther co-coach Laura Lee. "Now they'll get the experience."

The loss of DeSmith showed in the team's passing against Plum City, but the team's passing was vastly better against Spring Valley.

With the passing not working against Plum City, the Panthers weren't able to generate many attack kills. The most outstanding statistic of the night was the seven digs recorded by Hawke.

In Thursday's match, the Panthers outplayed Spring Valley in several aspects of the game. The Panthers passed better and their blocking was a key factor in the match. What hurt the Panthers was their serving. They missed far too many serves, with several misses coming at pivotal times during games.

Lee said the Panther hitters didn't have the best night Thursday. While they were getting solid sets, they weren't always able to land their hits in play.

Central's blocking was led by Kayla Pabst and Madison Malecek. They combined to get their hands on 17 of Spring Valley's hit attempts.

"Madison had a great night. She's getting stronger blocking and she hit pretty well," Lee said.

The Panthers continue their schedule this Thursday with a match against Colfax that will be Parents Night for the Panthers. This will be Central's final home match of the season. The Panthers conclude their regular season next Tuesday with a match at Elk Mound.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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