CENTERVILLE, Ind. — When the key points came, Centerville’s surging volleyball Bulldogs stepped up big in Thursday’s match with Wayne County rival Northeastern.
The result was a three-game sweep for Centerville, the team’s 12th straight win by scores of 25-16, 25-19, 25-9, moving the host ’Dogs to 3-0 in the Tri-Eastern Conference, and 16-3 overall. Northeastern fell to 9-14 on the season, and 1-3 in the conference.
On the night highlighted by Reid Bravo Night at Centerville High School, the color pink dominated in fundraising for breast cancer prevention and treatment.
Centerville took the lead in the first game after the Knights nosed ahead 4-1 at the start. Senior libero Emily Jones had six straight points on service to move ahead 8-3, and even a timeout by Northeastern with the score 10-4 couldn’t slow the Centerville roll to the first-game victory.
By night’s end, Jones had 24 digs, and just one passing error, much to the pleasure of Centerville coach Victoria Bevins.
“It took this team a little time to figure out how to play with each other, the girls just had to get comfortable with each other,” Bevins said of the mixed results early. “But we have learned as a team how to make things happen.”
On Thursday, Northeastern fought hard through much of the match, playing a close second game, even nosing ahead 19-18 as junior Katie Schneider was on the service line.
But the only Centerville timeout of the match resulted in a sideout to tie the score, then six straight points on the service of Logan Jackson to close out game two.
The hosts rolled in the third game, as sophomore Lanie McClanahan finished the night with a career-high 14 kills, along with 11 digs.
“I was kind of nervous coming out, you never know what the other team is going to bring. I expected a competitive game in the conference, and it was,” McClanahan said. “As a team, you have to be prepared, and we have practiced harder, and been working harder, as the season goes on, and we are connecting more as a team, and in a better way.”
Centerville last fell in two matches on a neutral floor in an invitational on Aug. 29, but have won them all since. The ’Dogs will play Lincoln in the Wayne County Tournament at Hagerstown on Oct. 3, then will play Lincoln, Hagerstown, Union City and Union County, in that order, to finish the TEC schedule.
“If we struggle at all, we just talk about settling down, and playing together as a team, that is what works for us,” Bevins said of the team’s approach when a foe is surging.
“We hope to defend our home court, and do well in the TEC. We hope to prove in the coming weeks that the TEC (title) could be ours.”
Lizzy Walther had 26 assists as the setter for Centerville, and McClanahan was joined by Jackson and senior Kaylin Smith as strong forces at the net.
For Northeastern, the Knights were led by Heaven Stegall and Morghan Foust with five kills each, and Foust had five blocks. Dayna Newman had 10 digs and Sasha Middleton recorded 10 assists.
For coach Jerry Middleton, it was another night of gaining experience for a young Northeastern team.
“When something goes wrong out there, it seems to rattle us,” Jerry Middleton said. “I am playing a lot of kids, but we are getting a lot of experience, and we focus on getting ourselves better, having some depth, and improving as we move toward tournament play later in the season.”
Northeastern visits neighboring Tri-Village Monday night, then hosts Anderson Prep Academy Tuesday. Northeastern returns to conference play in hosting Hagerstown on Oct. 1.