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Washington defeats Central in four

Aberdeen Central’s Abby Berry, center, tips the ball at the net as teammates Ayrlie Waldo, back left and Kiana Mounga, far right, look on and Sioux Falls Washington’s Ellie Walker, front left and Shelby Kinzer, front right, defend the net during Saturday’s match at the Golden Eagles Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 9/18/2021

On paper, it looked like another routine win for unbeaten Sioux Falls Washington. On the court, it looked like a confidence builder for Aberdeen Central.

The Golden Eagles overcame a rough opening set to push Washington hard before falling 25-9, 25-15, 25-27, 25-11 in non-conference volleyball at Golden Eagles Arena Saturday afternoon.

“We can take a lot of confidence away from this,” said Central senior Abby Berry, “and we can take away how hard we played in the third set.”

While Washington dominated the first set, Central coach Jackie Bindenagel felt like her team was in the match.

“Even that 25-9, I didn’t feel it was a bad as that score indicated,” Bindenagel said. “There were some long rallies, we just couldn’t win them.”

The Eagles settled down in the second set and while they lost it, they had gotten into the match. Points became harder to come by for the Warriors.

By the time the third set started, it was clear Central was not going to go away quietly.

“We changed our mindset, we changed our energy,” Berry said. “We just figured it out as a team.”

The Eagles made a few adjustments on the court as well, slowing down Washington’s potent hitters.

As a result, Central went from being on its heels to taking aggressive swings.

“They just kept battling,” Bindenagel said of her players. “Washington made a few mistakes and our hitters got a little more aggressive at the net, and we started to get some touches on the ball. Our middles just went to work and put the ball up for our backrow.”

The Eagles turned a 19-17 deficit into a 22-17 lead with five straight points. Central then had multiple set points at 24-21 before facing a match point down 25-24. Back-to-back kills by Grace Kuch eventually secured the set win and forced a fourth set.

Washington led just 10-8 before storming away down the stretch to grab the victory and improve to 7-0 on the season.

Emma Walker led the Warriors with 16 kills.

Kuch finished with 15 kills for Central. Abby Berry had six kills to go along with 23 set assists.

Berry is new to the setting position this season.

“In the beginning it was really difficult,” Berry said, “but I think I started getting the hang of it as the season has gone on.”

When asked how she knew where to go with the set, Berry responded, “I figure out how good the pass is. If it’s a really good pass, I’ll try to go quick with our middles or our backs, but it also just depends on where the ball goes and where their blocks are not.”

The Eagles had just three aces in the match compared with 15 for Washington.

Bindenagel said the serving is moving in the right direction, but needs to continue getting better.

“Our serving was better tonight than it was earlier in the week and it just has to go up from here,” Bindenagel said. “We have to keep serving aggressive.”

Central hosts Huron at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Golden Eagles Arena. Huron swept the Eagles not long ago in Huron.

“We’re preparing ourselves really hard for Huron,” Berry said. “We want to get back at how the last game went with them.”

Serving: Aberdeen Central 3 aces (Sawyer Bahr 3).

Hitting: Aberdeen Central 33 kills (Grace Kuch 15, Abby Berry 6, Karly Wellman 5).

Setting: Aberdeen Central 24 assists (Berry 23).

Digs: Aberdeen Central 66 (Sydney Evans 26, Anna Malchow 11, Meghan Mork 7).

Blocks: Aberdeen Central 5 solos 2 assists (Ashley Vogel 3 solos and 1 assist, Kiana Mounga 2 solos).

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