Winning is contagious, and no one knows that better than the Capital City volleyball team.
The Lady Cavaliers were winless in their first 40 matches dating back to the program’s beginning last season. They have now won three of of their last five matches.
“We’ve got the ball rolling now,” Capital City coach Kelsey Vogler said Monday after Capital City’s 25-14, 25-19 win against the Centralia Lady Panthers at Capital City High School.
Capital City won its first match in program history in straight sets Saturday against Kansas City Southeast in pool play of the Eldon Tournament. The next win came a few hours later, also in straight sets against Calvary Lutheran.
“We have finally played like we know how we can play,” said Capital City outside hitter Kiara Strayhorn, who was named to the all-tournament team. “We were just so pumped to get our first win, and we were ready to get another one.
“Since we have one, we wanted more.”
The wins were big for Capital City, which has played short-handed with just seven to eight varsity players for much of the past month.
“We were down four starters last week and they were just put into positions that they’re not used to playing,” Vogler said. “We had to support each other as a team, and that the one thing we said Saturday, ‘We have to become a team, even more now than ever before.'”
The momentum carried into Monday’s match. Capital City only trailed for three points total in the two sets.
“For once, we weren’t the team trying to fight back,” Vogler said. “We stopped their runs and never let them come back and get ahead of us.”
Daveigh Allabaugh had six straight service points in the first set to help Capital City build an 11-3 lead. Emma Wither followed with back-to-back aces to make the score 14-4.
Five different Lady Cavaliers served at least one ace Monday.
“Those players that have come up and stepped into those positions have truly exceeded all expectations,” Vogler said.
Capital City’s 10-point advantage dipped to 16-12. Vogler has been adamant this season to have her team battle through adversity rather than halt an opponent’s momentum with a timeout, and the strategy worked.
Michelyn Appiah had a kill and a block, Withers followed with a kill and Duran Earleywine served an ace to make the score 20-12.
“We’ve been talking about how they can correct things on their own on the court,” Vogler said. “I didn’t feel as though I needed to call a timeout. I knew the girls were going to handle it on their own.”
Appiah was dominant at the start of the second set for Capital City, recording two kills and a block during a 4-1 start. Appiah, who has been promoted from the JV to the varsity team, finished with five kills and a team-high five blocks.
“We’ve been focusing a lot with her on her blocking and how to control herself,” Vogler said. “She can be a beast, but she is starting to use her control over her skills.”
Centralia kept within reach of Capital City for much of the second set, but the Lady Cavalier defense allowed just seven kills in the match from the Lady Panthers.
“In practice, we have tried to communicate how to end runs,” Vogler said.
An Appiah block and a kill by Withers made it 16-11 in Capital City’s favor. Centralia closed the gap to three points, but a kill by Sydney Smith landed in the back corner to make the score 20-16.
A kill by Kloey Strayhorn and an ace by Kiara Strayhorn made it 23-18. Smith added another kill and then a Centralia attack error gave the match to Capital City.
The Lady Cavaliers have won six of their last 10 sets played.
“Our energy level is a lot higher than it has been,” Kiara Strayhorn said.
Kiara and Kloey Strayhorn each had five kills, while Earleywine had 18 assists. Allabaugh and Earleywine finished with nine and six digs, respectively.
Monday’s win was also the first home victory for Capital City (3-17-1), which had dropped its first nine home matches of the season.
“I think the girls were stoked about it,” Vogler said. “They’ve been waiting for this.”
The Lady Cavaliers will host Battle tonight. The freshman and JV matches start at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity match around 6:45 p.m.
Capital City defeated Centralia in the JV match 25-20, 25-20 to improve to 5-17-2.
Adellyn Antoninka and Julia Kollmeyer each had four kills, while Kollmeyer added 14 assists. Destiny Stilley finished with 11 digs and Shayla Stewart recorded two blocks.
Centralia won the freshman match 25-22, 25-9.