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In a thrilling five-set match inside a packed Breckon Sports Center in Parkville, Mo., the No. 2 Central Methodist Volleyball program was just edged by top-seeded Park University in five sets in the …
In a thrilling five-set match inside a packed Breckon Sports Center in Parkville, Mo., the No. 2 Central Methodist Volleyball program was just edged by top-seeded Park University in five sets in the Heart Tournament Championship on Saturday.
The Eagles fell to the Pirates by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-18, 20-25, and 15-12.
Both offenses struggled to get going in the opening frame, with both teams combining for 17 attack errors. With the set tied at 16-16, the Pirates used a 5-0 scoring run to pull out in front 21-16.
Callie Henson ended the scoring run with a kill before Park tallied back-to-back points on a kill and attack error from CMU. Despite picking up a point on a Pirate service error, Central was unable to come any closer, as the Pirates closed the set out with back-to-back kills.
CMU responded in set two, hitting .220 and committing just three attack errors compared to six for the Pirates. Despite trailing 4-0, Central rattled off four consecutive points, highlighted by a kill from Joana Milho and a service ace from Krystal Brauner.
Both sides remained deadlocked at 9-9 before an attack error by Park resulted in a 3-0 scoring run that saw the Eagles take a 12-9 lead. Central maintained a lead for the rest of the set, going on to win the set 25-23 and tie the match at 1-1.
The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds continued to exchange points into the third. A kill by Morgan LeBlanc midway through the set put Central within striking distance, trailing 12-11. Park capitalized on back-to-back errors from the Eagles to extend their lead to three.
CMU came within two points at 17-15 following a block from Delaney Miller and Sydney Healy. However, Park stretched its lead back out with another 3-0 scoring run. Central never came any closer than three points, as the Pirates took set three, 25-18, and a 2-1 lead in the match.
With their backs against the wall, the Eagles clawed their way back into the match with a 4-1 scoring run to open the fourth. Park responded with four straight points to take a 5-4 lead. The Eagles held steady, tying the set at 10-10.
CMU then rattled off six consecutive points to take a 16-10 lead. The Pirates cut the lead to as few as four before Henson shut the door with a kill to end the set in favor of Central, 25-20.
Tied two-all, the fifth set brought just as much intensity as the first four, with both squads exchanging points and ultimately remaining deadlocked at 7-7. Back-to-back kills from LeBlanc and Henson put Central in front 9-7, and they held that lead until Park broke even at 11-11.
A service ace from Alyssa Smith put Central up 12-11 before Park scored four-straight points on three kills to earn the come-from-behind win in set five and take the match 3-2.
Despite the narrow loss, Central pushed the No. 6 ranked Pirates to five sets, the first time that has happened to Park since Sept. 2 against Midland.
Two different Eagles recorded double-digit kills. Henson led the way with 11, followed by LeBlanc with 10. Henson also nearly earned a double-double with nine digs and a team-high five blocks. Milho and Healy added nine kills each.
Freshman Drew Gayle led the setters with 22 assists, while Gabi Owczarek dished out 14. Krystal Brauner led the defense with 23 digs, followed by Smith with 18 and Annabelle Maassen 15 apiece.
Miller and Maassen both finished the match with four blocks, while Smith picked up two service aces.
Central maintains a ranking of 21 in the latest national poll and will turn its attention to the NAIA National Tournament, beginning with the Opening Round set for Saturday, Nov. 18. Teams and opponents have not yet been announced.
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