Keeping the pace is important to the Central Springs offense.
In their 25-9, 25-3, 25-12 Class 2A regional tournament victory over Belmond-Klemme Tuesday night, the Panthers never let up.
Behind senior Kaylee Parks, the Panthers were able to create long point-runs. Parks knocked three consecutive aces in the first set, four consecutive aces in the second and four aces in the third set to drive up the score.
Behind Parks, Central Springs turned an 8-6 lead to a 13-6 lead in the first set, a 3-1 lead to a 12-1 lead in the second and a 15-8 to 19-8 lead in the third. Parks went 31-for-34 serving, including jump-serve variations thrown in during the second set.
It wasn’t just her serving keeping her in control, it was also the offensive aggression when the free balls came back over the net.
The team tallied a total of 38 kills, including 29 assisted by Parks. Eliminating long-pushed tips, adding more swings and eliminating errors are the keys to a more efficient offense in the postseason.
“We made too many errors against Osage, Forest City and Waverly this season,” head coach Ron Pedersen said. “We pushed the ball way too many times, gave them opportunities to get great kills ... going against good teams they’re going to kill us with that. Right now we’re just focusing on getting the ball and hitting the ball instead of pushing them.”
Pedersen noted that during this match he only saw one pushed ball. Most balls were met with a swing on the Panthers’ side of the net.
Junior middle blocker Hannah Ausenhus started strong with seven kills in just the first set. She would add eight more for a team-high of 15 during the match. Ausenhus took advantage of high balls and straight-on hits to also add six blocks defensively.
Parks took advantage of senior libero Morgan Kelly’s consistent passing game, including 16 digs, to spread the sets. Senior Anna Dietrich racked up five kills in the second set to add to her eight total, while junior Kessa Fingalsen got her share in the third with five kills to add to her nine total.
After a definitive first-round win, the Panthers look toward the regional quarterfinals against South Hamilton in Jewell on Monday.
“We learn that you’ve got to run our pace,” Pedersen said. “Don’t worry about what they’re doing, just run our offense.”