Ashlynn Bauer and five other Ankeny Centennial 12th-graders celebrated the volleyball program’s first senior night Tuesday.
One by one, the girls were honored with flowers before a match against Ames. Then they helped the No. 6-ranked Jaguars sweep Ames25-11, 25-7, 25-23 at Centennial.
Wins and roses for the team’s inaugural varsity season.
Centennial has set high marks to follow — among them a 21-5 record.
“We get to start all the new traditions,” Bauer said. “We get to set the stage for all the expectations.”
Junior middle hitter Jaali Winters, an all-stater last year, smashed 13 kills. She also had 11 digs and three aces.
Teammate Becka Bennien, another senior, added seven kills. Jordyn Rittman had seven digs.
Centennial opened this fall in the wake of Ankeny High School’s division into two high schools. The Jaguars began with lots of talent and potential. The team’s aggressive attacking and blocking has led to victories.
“It’s been better than any of us expected,” Centennial coach Jessica Rinehart said.
Bauer, who played for the Centennial junior varsity a year ago, said there were some transitions this season.
“It’s a brand new team,” Bauer said. “We’ve never had this group of 15 girls together.”
Centennial’s key win was a 3-1 triumph over then-No. 2-ranked Dowling Catholic on Sept. 24. The victory seemed to shift the team into a higher gear.
“We knew we had to flip the switch sometime,” libero Kayla Aronow said.
Ames coach Brad Bixby said Centennial is not an overnight success.
“They’ve been getting ready for this split for a while,” Bixby said. “It wasn’t new to them.”
Ames fell to 15-11.
Centennial’s Winters hammered five kills in the first set. She hit back-to-back kills during an early 6-0 run.
The Jaguars went on a 7-0 run to take control early in the second set. The team scored the final four points in the set.
Ames rallied in the third set. The Little Cyclones built a 20-16 lead, helped by back-to-back ace serves by Brianna Monroe.
Centennial fought back, including a 4-0 run late in the third set.
Bixby said he was proud of the way Ames didn’t give up late in the match.
“It’s just playing fearless,” Bixby said. “Good things happen to teams who play fearless.”
Centennial’s seniors — Aronow, Bauer, Bennien, Gabby Helmbrecht, Kaity Vinzant and Sarah Yaske — gathered for a group photo after the match.
They hope to set a high standard for others.
“It’s crazy to think we’re the first senior class,” Aronow said. “It’s very special.”