Columbia Central High School volleyball players Allie Jarchow (11) and Mia Taylor (7) attempt to block a spike attempt by Hillary Griffin during a match at WHS on Friday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
Without a Division 1 caliber player on the Western High School varsity volleyball squad, the Panthers used a never-say-die attitude to earn a win on Friday night.
The scrappy Panthers defeated Columbia Central 25-17, 25-21, and 25-22, to open the volleyball season.
Both schools practiced outside since early August due to COVID-19 restrictions. They moved inside just three days ago.
“It was hard to practice outside and keep everyone motivated due to the uncertainty of the season,” WHS Coach Kellie Mulnix said. “But we have a good group of all-around players.
“We will have to win as a team because there isn’t that one go-to player.”
The Panthers kept a number of rallies alive with hustle and determination not to let the volleyball hit the floor.
Columbia Central fell behind in both of the first two contests, but battled back each time in their season opening match.
“Our girls fought hard to the end,” CCHS Coach Jenny Tompkins said. “It is tough because this is only our third day on the hardwood.
“It is only our second day as a team.”
Tompkins did not hold tryouts until the first day of practice inside a gym earlier in the week.
Western took an early lead in game one, only to see CCHS take a slight lead at 15-13. But the Panthers outscored the Golden Eagles 12-2 in the final minutes of the contest.
Caroline Davenport served the last six points of the contest for Western. Two kills by Lilli Luma closed out the contest for WHS.
Western appeared to have a blowout in progress in game two. The Panthers led 16-6 at one point.
But CCHS battled back thanks to five consecutive service points by Katie Taylor. The Golden Eagles pulled within 22-20 before Hillary Griffin put the game away for WHS with a kill.
Columbia Central took an 8-4 lead to begin game three, but Western battled back. The Panthers took the lead thanks to nine consecutive service points by senior Merritt Baker.
Western held on for a 25-22 win to close out the match.
COVID-19 restrictions were evident as all players were wearing masks, each team stayed at one bench position, and the handshakes at the end of the game became waves.
Western was led by Hannah Pratt with 11 kills and Hillary Griffin with 10 kills. Both Barker and Davenport served 12 points for Western (1-0).
CCHS player Mia Taylor scored six kills and five points serving to lead the Golden Eagles. Kenadee Tompkins tallied four kills and four point, Katie Taylor served 10 points, and Audrey Beal finished with three kills and three service points for CCHS (0-1).
Western is scheduled to play Lumen Christi on Monday and Northwest on Wednesday. CCHS is scheduled to face Onsted at home on Tuesday.
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