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IMG1990   The last time the Central Lady Cougars volleyball team beat Mater Dei was a battle between Jim Cook and Chad Rakers on October 31, 2013.
   That edition was for the Triad Regional championship with an eventual State Tournament berth for the Cougars who finished in fourth.
   Now, 3,243 days later, the Cougars claimed a “Pink Out” win over the Lady Knights on Saturday at Stan Eagleson Gymnasium in front of 1,587 fans.
   The Cougars continued their dominance of first game victories as they have won the first game in each of their 13 matches.  They are now 8-5 on the season with a trip to Wood River on Thursday.
   Mater Dei fell to 13-4 on the season as they have gone 3-3 over their past six matches.
   MD hosted Freeburg on Tuesday at Fred Rakers Court while Rock Bridge will come to Breese on Saturday.
IMG20312   Central 25-25, Mater Dei 21-17:  The Lady Cougars ended a two-game losing streak on their home floor with a sweep over the Lady Knights on Saturday.
   The Lady Knights came out strong in both games, only to see the Lady Cougars battle back and earn the victory.
   “I could not be more happy for these girls,” said Central head coach Cathy Kohnen.  “They play so well together and we have put a lot of hard work in the gym.  We know we have the ability, we just need to put it all together.”
   Mater Dei’s Avery Wuebbels and Alyssa Koerkenmeier got things rolling for MD with a 5-1 lead after two blocks from Koerkenmeier and a block/kill combo from Wuebbels.
   Central regrouped on a service run from Izzy Toeben after a kill from junior Kaydence Schroeder.  Riley Koehler had a back-row kill while MD had two unforced errors to post Central with their first lead at 6-5.
   Central never trailed from there getting another run with two kills from Grace Johnson and a kill from senior Emma Taylor to extend the CHS lead to 11-7.
   A block from Grace Johnson extended the CHS lead to 14-9 before Mater Dei came right back.  Ella Diercks smacked down a kill to ignite a 5-0 run with two blocks from Koerkenmeier to tie the game 15-15.
   Mater Dei had two hitting errors, combined with an ace from Alayna Santel and a block from Emma Ratermann, to give CHS the lead at 18-15.
   “Our serve receive and our unforced errors just killed us,” said Mater Dei head coach Chad Rakers.  “When you are consistently having your setters run past the 10-foot line we are putting ourselves in a tough spot.  And Central was not missing.  When they were getting the second ball, they were ripping it.”
 Leading 18-16, Central got a kill from Santel and Taylor combined with two MD unforced errors as Central led 22-16.
   The Cougars got three side-outs with kills from Taylor and Johnson before Taylor ended it with her sixth kill of the game with CHS winning 25-21.
   “This is so special,” said Taylor.  “This season has not been as great as we have wanted it to be so far.  I hope this can spark us to have a great season the rest of the way.”
   Once again, Mater Dei got out to a quick 4-0 lead with two hitting errors from Central and kills from Rachel Boehning and Koerkenmeier forcing a CHS timeout.
   “I wasn’t going to let it continue,” said Kohnen of the timeout.  “We have started like that a couple times this season in the second game.  We’ve learned from it and I wanted to put the brakes on it early.”
   Central netted the next four points on two errors from MD and a kill from Grace Johnson and a block from Ratermann.
   Trailing 6-5, Central got a Taylor kill to tie it and they rattled off the next three points on Johnson’s service with two errors from Mater Dei as the Lady Cougars led 9-6 with a lead that was never relinquished.
   The teams exchanged side-outs through the next several possessions before Central got a kill from Taylor to lead 16-13.  Mater Dei followed with two unforced errors before an ace from Grace Johnson forced a Mater Dei timeout with CHS leading 19-13.
   “Central played real well and you have to give them credit,” added Rakers.  “They were ready to go.”
   After a kill from Elyse Strader and a lift call against the Cougars, MD got within 19-15.
   However, Central iced the game with two kills from Schroeder and a kill and ace from Taylor to open up a 23-16 lead.
   A kill and an ace from Schroeder ended the match in favor of the Cougars.
   “We’ve practiced so hard for this moment,” said Taylor.  “We needed to get this win.  We finally pulled together to close out a second game.  I’m just so proud of our team.”
   Taylor led all players with nine kills and three points while each Johnson and Schroeder had six kills.  Santel added seven service points and five kills.
   “Grace played awesome,” added Kohnen.  “She’s not afraid of a block and she just swings hard.”
   Toeben ended the match with seven service points while Johnson had six points and an ace.  Ratermann had 26 assists.
   Emma Johnson had six kills to pace the Lady Knights who got three kills from Diercks, Wuebbels and Koerkenmeier who also had five blocks.  Addie Lampe led MD with nine points.
   “I love the packed gym and the loud crowd we get for these matches,” concluded Rakers.  “It just shows you how great this community is to come out and support these two teams and a great cause.”
   Central outhit the Lady Knights 30-18 while MD had 13 unforced errors compared to a dozen from the Cougars.
   “This is the best game of the season,” concluded Kohnen.  “The whole community comes out to support two great programs and then to take care of one of our own to help her battle with cancer.” 
   Mater Dei 25-25, Granite City 8-12:  The Lady Knights had no trouble on the road Thursday with the Warriors.
   Alyssa Koerkenmeier paced the Lady Knights with a dozen service points and four kills while Addie Lampe had 11 service points.
   Rachel Boehning had 12 assists while Addie Nenninger had 11 helpers.  Emma Johnson led at the net with nine kills while Liv Lampe led the back row with six digs.
   Freeburg 20-25-25, Central 25-23-15:  The Lady Cougars dropped another match after winning the first game on Thursday in Breese.
   The Lady Cougars controlled the first game with four kills and a block from senior Emma Taylor while they only trailed at 2-1 in the opening game.
   Leading 14-10, Taylor smacked down three straight kills with the help of a tip from Emma Ratermann to open up an 18-10 lead that was never threatened.
   Leading 24-15, Freeburg scored five straight before junior Kaydence Schroeder smacked down a kill to end game one in favor of the Cougars.
   Central got off to a sluggish start in game two with the Midgets scoring the first seven points with a pair of kills from Kylie Stover.
   Central chipped away from there, getting the lead at 17-16 with a 4-0 run featuring two kills and a block from Taylor.
   Another tip from Ratermann and a smash from Grace Johnson gave the Lady Cougars a 19-17 lead.  Freeburg scored the next four points and eventually led 22-20.
   Another kill from Taylor and an attack from Alayna Santel gave the Lady Cougars a 23-22 lead.  However, kills from Lindsey Muskopf and Stover evened the match at one game each.
   Once again the Cougars got off to a slow start with an 8-1 beginning for the Midgets which featured three unforced errors from CHS.
   They never got back in the game as Freeburg rattled off the last three points with kills from Muskopf, Stover and Bella Borja.
   Stover led all players with 15 kills for the Lady Midgets while Muskopf added seven kills and 17 service points.  Mia Dirks had nine kills in a match where they outhit the Cougars 42-39.  
   The Lady Cougars got 11 kills from Santel and 10 from Schroeder while Taylor had nine kills, three blocks and four points.  Schroeder and Izzy Toeben each had eight service points in a match where the Lady Cougars had 23 unforced errors compared to 16 by FCHS.
   Mater Dei 25-23-25, Staunton 19-25-11:  The Lady Knights fought off a rough second game to win their match with the visiting Bulldogs on Tuesday night at Fred Rakers Court.
   Mater Dei controlled much of the match including never trailing in games one or three.  They also lead throughout game two including a 19-13 lead before falling apart.
   MD junior Emma Johnson led a balanced attack at the net with eight kills while fellow junior Elyse Strader had seven kills and four solo blocks.
   Lady Knights sophomore Alyssa Koerkenmeier had a strong match with six kills, three blocks and four points while Ella Diercks added six kills and a block.
   “I want every single one of my girls at the net to be able to be that girl – at any time,” Mater Dei head coach Chad Rakers said. “When the moment comes, they’ve got to be able to shine. And they are shiners. Every single one of them can shine. They’ve just got to accept it and believe it.”
   MD sophomore Addie Lampe had a long service run and finished the match with 15 service points and three aces while senior Ashleigh Jamruk added 10 points and two aces.
   Staunton got a great individual effort from senior Haris Legendre with 11 kills and 12 service points with a trio of aces.
   “What you want to make her do is not what she wants to do,” Rakers said of defending Legendre. “You want to make her not be able to rip everywhere she wants to. There’s always in-game goals that we’re working on and preaching. But studs are studs. They’re going to find their way.”
   Mater Dei outhit the Lady Dogs 31-20.  Mater Dei had 28 unforced errors while SHS had 25.
   “Class 2A is loaded this year,” added Rakers.  “There’s a lot of good teams that we can see in the postseason and Staunton is one of them.”
   Mater Dei controlled things from the opening serve in the initial game with an early ace from Addie Lampe and kills from Diercks, Koerkenmeier and Johnson as they ran out to an 8-2 lead.
   Two MD unforced errors kept Staunton in the game before a pair of kills from Strader got Mater Dei a 12-7 lead.
   A service run from Staunton’s Kylie Lucykow with a tip and a block from Danielle Russell got the Lady Bulldogs within 16-15.
   However, the teams combined for five unforced errors with MD clinging to a 19-18 lead.  Strader smacked down a pair of kills as MD took over from there.  They got the final four points of the game on Alivia Lampe’s service with Diercks ending it with a kill and a block.
   Addie Lampe got things rolling for MD in the second game with the first four points as MD eventually led 10-5 after a kill and a block from Strader.
   Mater Dei got kills from Strader and Johnson to take a commanding 19-13 lead.  However, a hitting error from MD sparked a seven-point scoring run from Legendre which featured four errors from the Knights and a kill from Russell as SHS led 21-19.
   Two kills from Diercks tied things up at 22-22 before three-straight service errors set up game point for the Bulldogs.  Lengendre put down a kill down left side to even the match at one game each.
   “I told them between sets two and three, I’m tired of telling reporters that we’re young,” Rakers said. “I’m tired of telling reporters that we’ve got work to do, things to figure out. It’s time to grow up. It’s time to put on our big girl pants and play in the big games and handle it. I think in the third set they did.”
   Mater Dei left no doubt in the third game with the help of a strong service run from Addie Lampe that included a pair of aces and five unforced errors from the visitors as MD ran out to a 9-0 lead.
   After two Mater Dei errors made it 9-2, Koerkenmeier and Johnson had kills to extend the lead to 13-2.  Strader and Johnson each smacked down kills as the game was out of reach at 16-5.
   Another kill from Johnson, an ace from Jamruk and a block from Koerkenmeier ended the match in favor of the home squad.