FESTUS, Mo. – A subtle move by junior setter Addi Casey stopped an extended St. Pius scoring streak and restored a settling influence on the Central volleyball team Monday evening.

The Lady Rebels steadily surged back from a seven-point deficit in game two, and completed an impressive 25-18, 25-23 road sweep over the previously unbeaten Lancers.

Kaley Kimball registered nine kills and three blocks along the front row, and junior libero Jessica Hulsey picked up 12 digs to highlight an active defense for Central (19-3-2).

Buckli Moss added five digs and four crucial aces in the victory, including back-to-back scoring serves during a 10-2 start to the opening game.

But the Lady Rebels would need a furious comeback to claim the second. St. Pius (14-1-2) jumped ahead 14-7 as senior star Caly Otec spiked her team’s eighth consecutive points from the 10-foot line.

“Our biggest issue is that we were playing defense for so much of that second game,” Central coach Tracie Casey said. “Otec was hammering the ball, and if we got a hand on it to block, they were getting another chance to hit. At no point when we were down could we get digs off of her that were playable.”

Addi Casey answered an excellent dig by Kirsten Schrader by guiding the disguised second touch safely into an open spot before the Lancers could reset.

Central moved past its only rough stretch as Moss landed two more aces, and delivered a huge 7-0 blitz after the home team had rebuilt a 17-11 lead.

Lizi Marler spiked two of her nine kills within a span of three points, and contributed defensively to a stellar rally that kept Casey at the service line.

Casey and Marler each reacted with saving bumps once the ball deflected off a nearby teammate, and the Lady Rebels celebrated the effort when Liberty Coleman attacked safely off the block.

“After the SEMO Tournament, we were having trouble tracking the ball when we would come down from a block and turn around.” Casey said. “We have done a few drills to work on that, and I did feel that we were a lot scrappier tonight than we have been in a while.” 

Avery Norris followed with a tying stuff-block, and Marler leaped to control a joust for an 18-17 edge after Moss lunged just enough to reach an incoming shot toward the sideline.

St. Pius regained a 21-20 when Hanna Burch connected into the opposite corner after a kill from Central junior Shalea Fischback was negated by an ensuing service error.

The Lady Rebels took the next three points on a Norris kill, Kimball block and Coleman ace, but the set was eventually tied again at 23-23 after Kennedy Lane smashed her ninth kill for the Lancers.

Both teams had numerous chances to secure the penultimate point of the match. It belonged to Norris on her third swing of the rally after Hulsey handled two sizzling attacks from St. Pius.

Kimball capped the outcome from the middle as Central capitalized on a free ball. Casey earned her 11th assist on the play while Norris ended with 13 assists and four kills.

“When we practice against the J.V., I will put 23 points on the board for them and somewhere from 15 to 18 for the varsity, then say ‘Let’s work hard. Let’s be aggressive,’" Casey said. “It’s been good for our J.V. girls to learn how to finish games, and also good for the varsity to figure out how to fight back and not get rattled.”

Otec notched six of her eight kills during game two for St. Pius. Ava Werner executed four blocks, and Molly Bange dished out 17 assists.

The Lancers struggled with hitting and passing at the outset, and never drew closer than five points in game one after falling behind by eight.

Coleman made it 14-8 with a solo block. Kimball later delivered consecutive Central kills before Marler rotated forward to do likewise from the left side.

Casey pushed the difference to 22-13 with an ace, and also provided seven digs. Coleman collected four kills and equaled Moss with five digs.

Lane generated eight digs while Gabriella Werner added seven and Summer Meyer posted six more for the Lancers.

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