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home : sports : sports Thursday, April 28, 2016

9/7/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Sabers knock off Indians, Knights at Maquoketa Invitational

By Ross Eberhart
Sports editor

There proved to be no easing into the season for the Central volleyball team.

Taking part in their first competition of the year, the Sabers competed in five matches during Saturday's Maquoketa Invitational.

And it proved to be a winning experience all around. The Sabers won a pair of matches at the meet and also gained some valuable experience on the court.

"It was great for the girls to finally get started and see their hard work pay off," Central head coach Peggy Kuehn said. "It also gave us the opportunity to see what we really want to focus on in the upcoming practices."

Needing to replace three starters, it took some time for the Sabers to gel on the floor and Central's first opponent, Cascade, took advantage with a 21-10, 21-12 victory.

The Sabers finished the match with eight kills with senior Katie Irwin, junior Olivia Haack and sophomore Amanda Brainerd accounting for two each (Abbey Grau and Ellie Ladehoff had the others). All eight kills were assisted by Mackenzie Kuehn.

Senior libero Stephanie Schrader led the team with four digs (Irwin had two of her own), while Brainerd was able to block one Cougar kill attempt.

The Sabers began to click in their next match with Camanche. Central jumped out to an early advantage in game one before the Indians answered with their own rally to tighten things up.

The two teams traded leads until a late Camanche push gave the Indians game point. Central, though, extended the game by getting a side-out and then scored again to tie things up.

The Indians broke the tie and were again a point away from ending the first game, but Central responded once more. The teams traded points one final time before the Sabers broke the game's last tie to make it 24-23. This time, Central was able to follow up with the deciding point for a 25-23 win.

The teams remained close early in game two, but Central created some separation in the middle of the contest and was not threatened the rest of the way as the Sabers finished off their victory with a 21-18 win.

Irwin paced the Saber attack with seven kills, while also leading the team with seven digs.

Haack and Becca Grell added six digs apiece with Schrader chipping in four of her own. Haack had three kills as well and so did both Brainerd and Grau.

Kuehn had 12 assists in the game and also led the Sabers with four aces. Haack added two with Irwin and Schrader coming up with one each.

Brainerd and Haack both came up with three blocks with Grau and Irwin having one each.

The drama did not stop there for the Sabers, who followed up their victory over the Indians with a three-game thriller against North Cedar.

The first game set the tone as the two teams battled right down to the wire with Central pulling out a 22-20 victory to grab the early advantage.

The Knights answered back from the setback in a big way as they toppled Central 21-14 in game two to send the match to a deciding third game.

Both teams worked hard to be the first to reach the necessary 15 points, but when one did, the match continued due to the need to win by two.

The Sabers and Knights found themselves not only tied at 15, but 16 and 17 also before Central finally was able to collect two consecutive points to end the game.

Grau and Irwin combined for 15 of the Sabers' 20 kills (the former had eight and the latter seven) with Haack chipping in three of her own.

Schrader paced the defense with 10 kills, while Irwin collected six, Haack four and Grau and Grell three. Brainerd, meanwhile, had four blocks and Kuehn piled up 19 assists.

Haack served up three aces in the victory with Irwin adding two.

The Sabers followed up their win with two more close games, this time with 15th-ranked Center Point-Urbana as their opponent.

Unfortunately for Central, both games went to the Stormin' Pointers (who finished second at the tourney behind Clinton) in a 21-18, 21-16 setback.

Brainerd and Irwin both had four kills in the match with the former adding two blocks and the latter coming up with nine digs. Schrader chipped in eight digs with Kalyn Bowen notching both three digs and three aces.

Kuehn had 11 assists in the game, while Grau and Haack both served up a pair of aces.

At 2-2, the Sabers were paired with a familiar foe in its placing match at the meet -Camanche, who had also gone 2-2.

The rematch between the two squads was reminiscent of the first meeting with a tight first game giving way to a more comfortable margin in game two.

Unfortunately for the Sabers, the roles were reversed in the second meeting as a motivated Indian squad took game one 21-19 and then used the momentum to take game two (21-13) and the match.

Irwin had six kills in the game with Brainerd and Grau chipping in five apiece and Haack three.

Kuehn assisted on 17 of the Sabers' kills, while Schrader and Haack came up with four and three digs respectively. Brainerd finished her tournament with another block (she had a total of 11 for the day) and Irwin came up with three aces.

"Amanda did an excellent job in the middle blocking position," Kuehn said. "And I was really happy with our ball control, it allowed Mackenzie to keep our offense more balanced.

"We know we need to focus and improve on our mental errors," the Central coach added. "Once we take care of the small things, we will continue to see more success."

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