MURRAY – Central Decatur came to Murray Monday in a non-conference volleyball contest and left with a straight-sets victory over the Lady Mustangs 25-12, 25-16, 25-17.
It was hot starts in every set that set the tone for the Cardinals as in each of the three sets they jumped out to early 10-4 leads over Murray.
Plenty of that can be credited to the Central Decatur offense which took to the attack quickly and aggressively, in part thanks to returning senior Emma Atwood who missed a few matches with a shoulder injury.
No rust was evident to those in attendance as Atwood smacked kills left and right throughout the three-set victory.
“We haven’t had Emma for a little bit. She’s been out of the lineup so it was good for her to have all those swings today,” said CD head coach Chelsey Green.
“They’ve got a lot of good hitters without her (Atwood), but I think most of their losses is when she is out of the game,” said Murray head coach Jerry Shields. “They’re a powerful 2A school.”
Murray scrambled its way back into the second and third sets, but the Lady Mustangs serve receive struggled with the Cardinals’ powerful serving, giving CD plenty of quick points.
Michelle McBurney put together a serving run in the third set as the Lady Mustangs chipped away at the Cardinal lead, but Central Decatur closed the door.
“That (serve receive) was the biggest thing. It hurt us really bad,” said Shields. “Not many teams around here serve like they do. They serve the ball hard.”
Despite some struggles to get consistent attacking opportunities, Murray took advantage of numerous scramble opportunities, knocking the ball into space to win points.
Bre Klein led the way for Murray with nine kills while Kelli Romero put together six putaways of her own.
As a collective unit, Murray was 35-of-37 serving with three aces.
On a couple of occasions, the Cardinals ran trick sets with bluff attackers confusing the Lady Mustang defense, allowing CD to have a few easy kills.
“They did a really nice job. We had a lot of kills tonight,” said Green. “We had a lot of serving errors at the beginning of the year and they did a good job of eliminating that tonight.”
Erica Kauzlarich and Abbie Ridgeway were big parts of the Cardinals attack as was Alaina Applegate.
The loss marked Murray’s sixth consecutive loss and dropped them under .500 (7-8) for the first time this year.
“We’re in a bad funk right now,” said Shields. “... We’ve got to be able to adjust at the net ... We’ve got to be able to slow the ball down so our defenders can dig it back up.”
Central Decatur 3, Murray 0
Serving (aces) — Murr: Emma Decker 8-8, Britta Callstrom 8-8, Kendra Boles 6-6, Bailey Frederick 4-5, Bre Klein 3-3, Michelle McBurney 3-3, Twila Barber 3-4.
Attacks (kills) — Murr: Klein 15-22 (9), Kelli Romero 12-14 (6), Boles 8-9 (2), Kinzee Eggers 6-11 (1), Twila Barber 4-7, Frederick 2-2, Decker 1-1.
Blocks (solo, assists) — Murr: Barber (1,0), Eggers (1,0), Klein (1,0).
Setting (assists) — Murr: Barber 7, Callstrom 4, Klein 2, Romero 1, Hailey Chew 1.
Digs — Murr: Decker 9, Klein 5, Frederick 4, Barber 3, Katy Gibbs 3, Rylee Newton 1.
Central Decatur stats unavailable at time of press