Despite tying the score several times and occasionally leading, Centralia’s Lady Panther volleyball team lost to visiting Kirksville the night of October 9 in two sets, 17-25 and 18-25.
Justin Quigley, Kirksville Tigers head coach, said he was surprised by Centralia’s quickness and aggressiveness. “I’ll be honest, we underestimated them… I saw on film they were scrappy, but they are a much better passing team, a much better serving team than what I have on film.”
He said they would make an impression in districts: “They deserve their fourth seed, no doubt about that.” Quigley praised Kyra Ward’s work at libero. “I think their libero is really good and Lily Biggs is a player I haven’t seen those types of things on film that she did tonight. I was impressed with her as well.”
Biggs was crowned “Queen of the Net,” as part of the Panthers’ senior night festivities.
He said the difference between the teams was Kirksville’s height advantage. “We’re a little more aggressive at the net than they can be, their big girls are aggressive, but we are big all the way across… But Centralia is a very scrappy team and they are going to give people fits.”
Centralia agreed with that assessment.
“Kirksville was really strong, they were very aggressive at the serve, very aggressive at the net,” said acting coach Josh Lancaster. “We knew that was coming but until you really play against it you don’t know how to combat against it.”
Lancaster said that meant a lot of quickness, a lot of energy on the Lady Panthers’ part. That also meant more speed in the back row, dig more, block more at the net.
“Quick on our feet, quick to get underneath balls, he said, “We had to play with a lot of energy, a lot of intensity, we did a lot of good things and I think we learned a lot tonight, good things that we can learn from. This will make us better for district.”
He said Kirksville is the top seed in Centralia’s district “and this game gave us an idea of how we stack up… A couple things go differently and tonight we’re looking at a much different game.”
Ashlyn Crum’s performance helped keep Centralia in the game, said Centralia’s coaching staff.
She had a couple good kills, a couple blocks, she was aggressive off the serve,” Lancaster said. “She is a sophomore, she gained and played with confidence tonight. We want her to keep playing with that kind of confidence.”
He said they could encounter size challenges from Marshall and Boonville at districts, but did not know. Those teams are the only one Centralia’s coaches have not seen.
Lily Biggs had six kills, two aces and 10 digs. Beth Heimann had four kills and nine digs. Crum had five kills, three blocks and one ace. Madison Smith had 21 assists.
Centralia hosts the district championships, which begin, 5 p.m., Monday, October 22 at Centralia High School when Centralia plays Marshall.