A loss last week by St. Cecilia in the championship of its own tournament was tough to swallow.
For one, it was a very winnable match for the Hawkettes. It was also a chance to really prove themselves as the top dog in Class C-2 had they taken down powerhouse Superior.
It was the second loss of the Hawkettes’ season. Both of them have come in three set matches. The first was against Fillmore Central in the Panthers’ invite, and STC failed to finish them off.
It was very similar last Thursday when the Hawkettes let Superior charge back into the match, and the Wildcats claimed the invite crown at Chapman Gymnasium.
If there has been one glaring issue for St. Cecilia, it’s been the inability to put away matches when the Hawkettes should.
The loss to Superior cost STC the top spot in the latest C-2 ratings. The Hawkettes slid down one spot to No. 2.
The Hawkettes won both of their matches Monday in a triangular at Southern Valley with Cambridge.
After Tuesday’s senior night festivities between the JV and varsity contests, the Hawkettes swept Centura 25-17, 25-19, 26-24.
Again, Tuesday was an example of a game where the Hawkettes took their foot off the gas and they nearly dropped a set.
The Hawkettes held match point at 24-17 in the third set, but, for the life of them, could not score that final, sweep-clinching point.
Centura scored four straight points, three of which were blocks by Elayna Holcomb, to pull within 24-21 and force VanCura into a timeout.
“Holcomb is a great hitter. We had a tough time stopping her. She switched her angles of attack and we couldn’t get a good block on her,” VanCura said.
A Hawkette error and a kill by Rhegan Jensen ensued to cut the STC lead to one and whistle another timeout by VanCura.
An ace by Jadyn Gentleman tied the game out of the second timeout before Makenna Asher tooled a kill of the block for another try at match point.
Asher stepped to the service line, where she served six on a night honoring her Tori Thomas, Chloe McCauley, and Emma Schneider, and the Hawkettes finally ended the match with a Katharine Hamburger block.
“We had them at 24-17 and we just made some dumb mistakes,” VanCura said. “We couldn’t keep the ball in play and they made the plays. We made a couple bad decisions and we’ve got to clean things up before the conference tournament.”
St. Cecilia hosts part of the Centennial Conference tournament, which begins Thursday. The Hawkettes will play at 5 and 7 p.m.
“There will be no such thing as an easy match in our conference tournament,” VanCura said. “We’ve got to be ready to play.”
VanCura hinted that maybe he thought his team was looking past Centura, which nearly proved to be a mistake.
“Hopefully our minds were on this one and not looking forward to conference because Centura has a nice ball club and I knew they were going to give us a battle,” the STC coach said.
It wasn’t just the third set St. Cecilia had trouble finishing in.
The Hawkettes held a nine point lead in the first set, but Centura snipped it to four with a 5-0 run before being outscored 7-3 the rest of the way.
The second set was St. Cecilia’s cleanest, where the Hawkettes posted 23 of their 50 kills in the match. Thomas recorded seven of her match-high 15 in the second set.
“We’ve got to avoid stretches like tonight where we get a lead and let them creep back in it,” VanCura said. “We’ve got to be able to finish things. You’ve just got to find a way.”
Addie Kirkegaard added 13 kills while Katharine Hamburger smashed 12 for the Hawkettes.
McCauley tallied six kills, while fellow senior Asher finished with four kills and 31 assists.
“I haven’t had the seniors for all four years, but they’ve been great leaders for us, hard workers, and just great to be around,” VanCura said. “They’ve done so much for our program and I can’t say enough about them.”
Centura (12-9)............17 19 24
St. Cecilia (23-2).........25 25 26
Jadyn Gentleman 0-1-0, Sydney Davis 6-0-0, Taya Christensen 5-1-0, Elly Keilig 3-0-1/2, Rhegan Jensen 4-0-0, Elayna Holcomb 14-0-4 1/2, Amber Baldwin 0-1-0. Totals: 32-3-5.
Assists — Baldwin 29, Keilig 2.
St. Cecilia (kills-aces-blocks)
Katharine Hamburger 12-0-3, Jill Parr 0-0-0, Chloe McCauley 6-0-1, Makenna Asher 4-6-1/2, Addie Kirkegaard 13-0-0, Tori Thomas 15-0-1 1/2, Erin Sheehy 0-1-0. Totals: 50-7-6.
Assists — Asher 31, Parr 12, Sheehy 3.