CENTRAL — Central’s volleyball team started slow but finished strong to take a three-set match from East Ascension in a non-district game Thursday.
Central (14-7) took advantage of seven EAHS service faults, then finished with a 6-3 run to win the first set 26-24. The second set also went to 24-all before Central pulled out another 26-24 win, and the third set was never close. With their loud and enthusiastic student section cheering them on, the Wildcats led by as many as 11 and clinched the set 25-15 on a kill by Brandy Wilson.
“We started off a little bit rough, but we figured it out and pulled it together and finished strong,” Central coach Michele Leboeuf said. “We had a little bit of a lineup ‘thing.’ I don’t know that we have a set lineup. We’re always changing, and it maybe took a while to get used to it.”
Regardless of the lineup Central had solid play in all phases. Wilson was strong at the net, recording eight kills and three blocks, one of which registered the final point of the first set. Libero Kathryn Mancuso was nearly flawless on the back row with 16 digs to go with 2 aces. Setter Kaitlyn Cook had 21 assists, and Kelsey Cooke was a force in the final two sets to finish with six kills and two blocks.
The Wildcat’s go-to hitter, Jordan Stephens, got off to a slow start and didn’t record a kill until early in the second set, but she went on to finish with 10 kills and five digs.
“We were very balanced,” Wilson said. “We were very calm. We played at our own pace, everybody played together and we won.
“Our student section keeps us pumped. They’ve supported us in every game, and we really appreciate them.”
Jesse Watts had a strong game for East Ascension (15-9) with 13 kills and two blocks. She was dominant in the first set with five kills and two more points on tips, but EAHS could not overcome their problems at the service line.
“I don’t think we came in as prepared as we should have,” East Ascension coach Amy Gilmore said. “We didn’t do the little things that could have made a difference, and when you play a good team like Central, you have to be prepared.”
Emily Daigle also had a good all-around game for EAHS with six kills, 11 digs and 10 assists.
Mancuso rated her defensive effort as one of her “good games.”
“Our blockers were helping me out, but (the Spartans) have good hitters, and they hit a lot of balls at me,” she said.
“As a team we just stuck to it, and when we get on a roll, we’re going to win.”