Erick Starkey/News With her eye on the ball coming down from a set, Centerburg senior Emma Bentz (17) prepares for the spike, as Danville’s Madisyn Bower (4), Ally Bower (3) and Sammie Lavender get into defensive position Thursday in a three-set win for the Trojans on Senior Night.
Erick Starkey/News Tom Stewart manned the Centerburg volleyball scorers table for the final time Thursday in a three-set win over Danville. He has been the bookkeeper for the Trojan volleyball program since 1998, scoring a total of 2,546 sets, or 848 matches. Stewart has also scored girls basketball for 20 years and has had stints as the boys basketball scorer. He has garnered several awards for his dedication to Centerburg volleyball and basketball, including a Distinguished Service Award (2011), a Hall of Honor Award (2011), a MOAC lifetime sports pass (2014) and a KMAC lifetime sports pass (2017).

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CENTERBURG — The Centerburg Trojans picked up the three-set win Thursday for Senior Night against the Danville Blue Devils, thanks in large part to contributions from the three seniors on the squad.

“It was just a really good win for us,” Centerburg senior setter Halle Moreland said. “We’ve had a rough season so to end on a night that was dedicated to us was pretty awesome.”

The Trojans got off to a strong start in the first set after the two teams traded points to open the contest. Centerburg raced out to a 10-5 lead off an ace from senior Emma Bentz. An ace by Danville’s Brittany Holtz cut the lead to 10-7, but the Trojans pushed their edge to 13-7. A kill by Holtz trimmed the Centerburg advantage to 17-14, but the home team pulled away, scoring seven-straight points, including two kills from Grace Mulpas and two aces from Bentz. Moreland closed out the set with a tip, giving the Trojans the 25-16 win.

Centerburg picked up the wire-to-wire win in Set 2, starting with a kill from Noa Sesma. An ace by Moreland, her second of the short set, ran the lead up to 13-1. A Centerburg error trimmed the lead to 14-7, but that was as close as the Blue Devils could get. Down 24-11, Danville rattled off three points before Moreland again ended the set with a tip for the second time of the night.

“I think it was a lot of luck, honestly,” Moreland said. “Just a lot of praying to God that it was going to go over and hit the floor.”

The third set had more back and forth, with four ties. A kill by Madisyn Neitzelt put Danville ahead 4-2 early and Ally Bowers’ kill nudged the Blue Devils forward to 8-5.

“Our front row has been much more aggressive,” Danville coach Danielle Dawson said. “That’s what we’ve been working on this week in practice, is making sure we are not giving the other team too many free balls.”

Centerburg failed to lead, other than the first two points, until the second half of the set.

“We were trying to run some combinations and it didn’t work,” Simpson said. “Then we lost the momentum with that. I was glad they were trying to do that stuff. I want them to do that. When it didn’t work, they kind of panicked a little bit.”

On a Danville error, the score was tied up at 11 and another error gave the home team a 12-11 lead and they never relinquished that advantage. The Blue Devils made a late charge, with a kill from Holt cutting the deficit to one (18-17), but the Trojans scored seven-straight points to win the set, ending in a kill from Bentz. Despite the loss, the closer score was a promising sign for the Blue Devils.

“With the last two sets, that’s probably the best I’ve seen our team play — working together, teamwork, working hard and picking each other up,” Dawson said. “I can’t complain.”

The seniors helped lead the charge for the Trojans. Moreland notched two aces, four kills, 12 digs and a team-high 44 assists. Bentz recorded an ace, five kills and five digs, while Kristy Vargo filled her stat line with 12 digs.

“It’s wonderful that they all get to play and they all get to contribute,” Simpson said. Nothing feels better from the coach’s perspective than when that happens. I feel very lucky and fortunate that that’s how that played out for us.”

Sesma was strong at the net with 14 kills, which she paired with an ace and a dig. Mulpas, Taylor Scowden and Natalie Coffing all had seven kills. Coffing had three aces and 17 digs, while Scowden added an ace and 12 kills and Mulpas had two digs. Brooklyn Marshall finished with 19 digs.

Danville stats were unavailable to the News at press time.

The Blue Devils return to action Saturday on the road against Mapleton, starting with JV action at 10 a.m. Centerburg hits the road Tuesday to take on Northmor, with freshman action starting at 4:30 p.m.


Erick Starkey: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @MVNStarkey




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