Warriors lose in first round of volleyball playoffs

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Gracie Cummer earned three kills in Central’s playoff loss at North Linn. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Isabelle Groth makes a kill attempt against the Lynx.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

 

The Central volleyball season came to an end this past week with a first round playoff exit against 21-8 North Linn. The Lynx won in straight sets, 25-8, 25-11 and 25-15. 

 

The Warriors finished the season 10-29, which is an improvement over last season’s three wins.  

 

The offense finished the match with 12 assists, with Giorgia Baiguini and Lizzie Royer both earning five and Chelsia Larson and Alyson Feickert snagging one apiece. 

 

The team also finished with 13 kills on 74 attempts. Leading the way was Lexi Loan with six, followed by Gracie Cummer with three and Feickert with two. 

 

Defensively, the Warriors recorded zero blocks, but had 58 digs. Larson’s 15 digs were the team high and Feickert added 12, while Loan finished with 11, Royer had seven, Brandy Beatty had five and Baiguini had four. 

 

As for serving, the Warriors finished with just one ace from Baiguini, but were successful on 26 of 28 attempts and had a 92.9 percent efficiency. 

 

The Warriors fell below coach Mike Smith’s expectations this season, but he also acknowledged it was a “growing year” in which improvement was seen. 

 

“I am seeing that we, as a team, are improving, he said. “The girls are learning the game better and are starting to realize what sets them apart from the other teams [and] the conference was well balanced this year, and there were a lot of exciting games to watch in the conference.” 

 

One area the team improved most was blocking, which was a result of what Smith said was “the hitters starting to realize they can hit the ball.” 

 

One area where the Warriors excelled throughout the season was serving, as they led the conference in serving percentage with 92 percent. 

 

“The girls started moving together as a team and understanding each other better, and I hope that will carry on to next year,” Smith said. “Serve receive is something we need to work on. We also need to work on before game energy. We either come in too high and need to calm down or too low and need to get the energy up.”

 

Another area Smith noted the team is growing is understanding his coaching philosophy, which should spell good fortune for the future of the program. 

 

“They are starting to realize why I do some of the things I do and now understand why I do them and are buying into the program. One challenge we need to work on is if there is a change in our game plan. They need to learn to readjust and play different positions that are expected of them,” he said. 

 

One thing Smith will have to overcome during the offseason is replacing several players who will depart due to graduation, including Larson, Beatty, Isabelle Groth, Alivia Keppler and Alexis Fettkether. But the growing team and the increased emphasis on team play should carry over. It’s in the team play where coach Smith believes teams win and lose games. 

 

“The girls are playing as a team and that is how you win more and more games,” he said. “Everyone has their role, whether it be a passer, setter, hitter or blocker. It all has to come together as a team and everyone needs to take ownership of their role.”

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