The Central Catholic volleyball team earned a third shot at St. Ursula by dispatching Whitmer 25-5, 25-20, 25-21 in a district semifinal last night at the Sullivan Center.
"It's tournament time, which means it's time to step up, and I think that's what our kids have been doing," Irish coach Denise Wiczynski said. "Whitmer gave us everything they had, but we just went to our game plan: just hit the ball."
Central took command of the first game by scoring 13 unanswered points after the Panthers scored the game's first two. Senior Ellen Herman had five of her game-high 13 kills in that game as the Irish made only two mistakes that led to Whitmer points.
"We concentrate in practice on not making errors," Herman said. "A lot of teams get points off our mistakes, so we tried to keep that to a minimum."
In the second game Central used a 7-1 run to build a 10-5 lead. An ace by Whitmer's Victoria Slupecki cut the advantage to 17-13, but the Panthers came no closer.
"Game 1 we played nothing like we can - we played scared," Whitmer coach Nick Dauderlin said. "They're a tough team to beat, especially when they're on their game."
The third game saw Central roar out to a 16-5 advantage, only to have the Panthers slowly claw their way back. Four aces by Whitmer's Alexa Malaczewski keyed a 9-1 run that cut the Irish lead to 21-17, but kills by Central's Margot Joniec helped finish the match.
"We just came out with the mind-set that we had to play our game," said Herman, who also had four blocks. "The main aspect [we focused on] was defense; we needed to pick up our defense."
Herman's offense, as well as the eight blocks posted by the Irish, kept Whitmer from its second straight tournament upset. The Panthers beat Northview in the sectional final Tuesday.
"I knew [Northview] was a good team, but I had a scheme for them," Dauderlin said. "I really didn't have a good enough scheme for Central. They have a lot of weapons."
After losing to St. Ursula in the regular season and the City League tournament championship, the Irish hope the third time against the Arrows will be the charm.
"We didn't even think about [playing St. Ursula] until now," Wiczynski said. "This is the last chance for some of these seniors, and I know we're going to be ready for them this time. I think everyone is going to see a great match."
Herman said she and Central's five seniors are excited about getting another shot to knock off St. Ursula.
"This time we're pumped, and we have the mind-set to come out and kick butt," she said.
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