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By JOSH CLAYWELL email@example.com
CECILIA — Despite fielding a youthful squad, veteran Central Hardin High School volleyball coach Wendy Boeglen is excited about the potential of senior Kelsey Villwock and junior Kevena Larkins on the front line.
Villwock, a middle hitter, and Larkins, an outside hitter, combined for eight kills as the Lady Bruins opened the season with a 25-14, 25-9 win over visiting 15th District rival Fort Knox on Tuesday at Bruin Gym.
“Kelsey Villwock by far has lots of experience. She has the wherewithal to be able to connect (with the ball) and make a great contribution,” Boeglen said. “Kevena is learning. She’s got a good jumping ability.”
Villwock also had two aces and one dig as the Lady Bruins won at least their seventh consecutive season opener.
“It’s always nice to start out with a win,” Villwock said. “I’m glad the first game is over with.”
Senior setter Tiffany Allen chipped in with team highs in assists (11) and aces (seven) and had two kills, while sophomore libero Maddie Lewis had two aces and one dig.
Sophomore outside hitter Cassidy Sorrells added three kills and senior defensive specialist Victoria Thompson had four aces.
“It’s always good to start off with a win,” Boeglen said. “We need to continue to bring that (winning) to fruition each night. The girls did the job that I asked them to. We’re still working on gelling together as a team.”
Junior middle hitter Karissa Jackson paced Fort Knox with two kills.
Central Hardin took a 9-2 lead in the first set as Thompson scored five straight points aided by three Fort Knox attack errors and two kills by Villwock.
Following a net error and another kill by Villwock, Villwock extended the Lady Bruins’ lead to 14-3 behind a kill by Sorrells, two aces and a Fort Knox net error.
Central Hardin’s lead grew to 18-4 and 20-6 before the Lady Eagles scored consecutive points on Lady Bruin attack errors.
Trailing 24-8, Fort Knox senior outside hitter Anjelica Harvey scored five straight points to bring her team within 10 at 24-14.
“I have to say it kind of helped that Central got rattled and some of their hits started going out,” Fort Knox coach Jackie Prather said. “Volleyball is a game of rolls, and it was good that we got on one.”
The run was fueled by two aces from the 5-foot-4 Harvey and three attack errors by the Lady Bruins.
“I think that’s a real confidence booster for her when she’s able to get on a roll like that,” Prather said. “She’s got a good serve.”
Harvey’s final serve hit the net, giving Central Hardin the first-set win.
“You never like to have anybody rally against you and you hope they will stop that rally,” Boeglen said. “We have to play through our mistakes and clean the plays up.”
The second set got off to a rough start for Fort Knox as Central Hardin scored the first seven points.
The Lady Bruins extended their lead to 10-2 on three consecutive Fort Knox attack errors. The lead grew to 20-6 as sophomore setter/defensive specialist Lisa Fisher scored five straight points.
“It feels good to win our first match,” Allen said. “When is it not good to win?”
Central Hardin won the junior varsity match, 21-8, 21-9.
UP NEXT: Central Hardin plays at district rival North Hardin at 7 p.m. Thursday. Fort Knox plays at Breckinridge County at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752