‘Road Warriors’ fight through grueling week to get first win

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central volleyball team kicked off the season as road warriors last week, making trips to Charles City, Lisbon Calmar and Midland to play a total of 11 games in six days. While the Warriors finished the busy schedule 1-10, coach Kelly Erickson remains optimistic about the team’s potential. 


“While the win column may not have seen as many entries as we would have hoped for, the team emerged from this grueling week with invaluable experiences and a renewed determination to excel in the games to come,” Erickson said. 


It all got underway Aug. 28, when the Warriors played Charles City (9-2) and Clayton Ridge (2-4). Versus the Eagles, Central lost a close first set, 25-22, before dropping the second 25-16, and giving Clayton Ridge the win. 


The Warrior offense was led by Brooklyn Amsden’s seven kills, while Lizzie Royer and Tori Sylvester each had four. The team combined for 16 assists, with Katie Royer topping the list at eight, followed by Lizzie Royer with seven. 


The defense was helmed by Oakley Armstrong, who came up with 11 of the team’s 46 digs. Tori Sylvester came away with eight and Katie Royer six, and Mackayla Vlazny and Alivia Wiley each had five. 


On the serve, the Warriors finished with five aces, two from Wiley and Lizzie Royer and one by Tori Sylvester. Overall they finished with 87.2 percent efficiency. 


In the second game, the Warriors started off strong against hard-hitting Charles City, but as the sets went on, they “encountered difficulties in defending the formidable hitters,” Erickson said. The Warriors were unable to get the necessary kills, finishing the game with just eight total. As a result, the Comets took both sets by scores of 25-11 and 25-5.


Leading the team in kills were Tori Sylvester with three and Lizzie Royer two. The defense put up 20 digs, with Tori Sylvester and Katie Royer both getting six. Lizzie Royer finished with four. 


“Sophomore Katie Royer has done a nice job of stepping in and setting for us this year along with her sister, Lizzie Royer,” Erickson commented. 


Then it was off to the Lisbon Volleyball Classic on Aug. 29, for four more games, starting with 5-0 host Lisbon, another tough opponent. The Warriors dropped both sets, 21-12 and 21-15. 


Lizzie Royer led the team with six of 13 kills and six assists, while Tori Sylvester had a team-high nine digs and one block. Central’s serve efficiency was 85.7 percent. 


“Even though we didn’t win the match, I felt we played very well,” Erickson said.


Next, the Warriors faced East Buchanan. It was a match in which the Warriors struggled on serve reception and only served 15 times. 


“We didn’t play as well in this match. We only served 15 times, [and] because we struggled on serve reception, we were not able to set up the ball and only had six kills,” Erickson explained.


Lizzie Royer and Amsden both had two kills and Tori Sylvester led the defense with seven digs. 


Serve reception struggles continued in the following match against Tipton (6-4), and the Warriors once again only served 15 times, as the Tigers secured both sets 21-8 and 21-6. 


The offense finished with six kills, with two from Amsden and Tori Sylvester. Lizzie Royer had a team-high four assists. The defense finished with 17 digs, eight of which were by Armstrong, while Wiley and Tori Sylvester each snagged two. 


In the final game of the tournament, the Warriors took on Prince of Peace Catholic School in a tight match that went to three sets. The Warriors dropped the first set 21-18, but took the second 21-8, before falling short in the third set 15-11. They missing 11 serves in the match, which proved costly in the close sets. 


Katie and Lizzie Royer both had three kills in the match, while Armstrong had five digs, followed by four from Lizzie Royer and Vlazny.  


It was another two-game lineup for the Warriors on Aug. 31, as they traveled to Calmar to play against Waukon (3-3) and Crestwood (2-3). In the match against the Indians, Central got off to a slow start, losing the opening set 20-6, before rebounding and playing a closer second set, but ultimately losing 25-20. 


Kirsten Farmer and Armstrong each had two kills. Defensively, Lizzie Royer led the team with seven digs, followed by Armstrong with six and Vlazny with five.


“We had some players step up during this match to fill in for some players who couldn’t play, [but] overall we had 10 serve reception errors, which is something we continue to work on in practice. We also only had 10 kills and 20 attack errors. We need to work on being more efficient on offense and cut down on our attacking errors,” Erickson said. 


The Warriors then played well against the Cadets, with only three serve errors, but ended up losing both sets 25-17. 


Tessa Sylvester led Central with five kills, followed by Amsden with four and Armstrong with three. Lizzie Royer finished with nine assists and Katie Royer had five. 


On defense, Armstrong led the way with nine digs, followed by Wiley with eight and Tori Sylvester five. Tessa Sylvester and Vlazny each had four digs.   


The Warriors finished off the week at the Midland Tournament, where they opened against Cascade (7-6), losing in two sets, 21-16 and 21-18. 


Amsden and Tori Sylvester both had three kills, followed by Leah Reinhart with two kills. Defensively, Lizzie Royer led the way with 12 digs, followed by Wiley with six.  


“Our serve reception was much better this match,” Erickson said. “Lizzie Royer did a great job serving for us, with three aces, but overall, we had six serve errors. Overall, we had nine kills in the match and 10 attack errors. Something we will need to continue to work on as the season goes on.”


The Warriors lost the next match in straight sets to Central City (3-4), 20-13 and 20-7. Amsden led the team with five kills, followed by Tori Sylvester with three. Lizzie Royer led the defense with seven digs and Tori Sylvester finished with six.  


“We did a better job serving, but struggled on serve receive,” Erickson said.


The third match was against Calamus-Wheatland (9-3), with Central losing again in straight sets, 21-15 and 21-6, and finishing the game with just seven kills and six kill errors. Tori Sylvester led the way with three kills, and on defense, Armstrong had a team-high five digs, followed by Lizzie Royer with four digs. 


The Warriors ended the tournament playing in the consolation match against 1-7 Midland, and  took three out of five sets to secure the first win of the season. 


Katie Royer excelled at serving, hitting 13 of 14 attempts with two aces, as did Lizzie Royer, serving 11 of 12 with three aces. 


Amsden and Tori Sylvester both had seven kills, followed by Lizzie Royer with five kills. Katie Royer had 11 assists. 


Lizzie Royer led the way on defense with 12 digs, and Brylee Erickson recorded eight and Tori Sylvester six.  


“They played really hard, never giving up when we were down in the fifth set to come back and win the set and match. Our communication was much better this match, which led to great teamwork,” Erickson said. “This past week was a testament to the unwavering dedication and tireless effort put in by our team. It was indeed gratifying to see all that hard work culminate in a well-deserved victory…we faced formidable competition that pushed us to our limits, providing valuable experience and lessons that will undoubtedly fortify us as we approach conference games.”


The season continues Sept. 9, at the Jesup Tournament. 

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