The Central Union High volleyball team had its hands full Thursday night with an unrelenting Coachella Valley High.
The Spartans managed to edge out the Arabs, 3-2.
Central took an early lead to begin the evening, then found itself playing catch-up throughout the first game. Minor mental errors on its part would allow Coachella Valley to pull away whenever the score got close, but Central rallied late, with Melissa Alvarado serving seven straight possessions, to win 25-18.
The Spartans got off to a slow start in the second game but managed to pull even midway through. From there on out, it was back and forth, but a few costly mistakes on Central’s part relegated control of the game to an opportunistic Coachella Valley, who snagged the game, 25-23.
The Arabs fed off this newfound momentum and continued mistakes and bad ball-placing had the Spartans down 17-11 at one point in the third game. They closed to within three but faltered with a short serve into the net by Baylee Vincent, which gave Coachella Valley the win, 25-21.
With the home team trailing, one might have expected a little more urgency than was seen from the Spartan bench, but head coach Nabila Gaines kept her composure throughout the night.
This steadfastness was channeled by team captain Cece Charles, who led the team in spikes with six and blocks with one.
“This was our first game, so we were really nervous,” Charles said. “We weren’t communicating so well early on but we tried our best to improve on that. We kept our energy up and I think we wanted it more.”
It showed in the final two games. Central won an exciting game four, 26-24, thanks to key plays from Charles and Alvarado. Smelling blood in the water, they went on to take game five, 15-11, with Nettie Williams racking up two of her three spikes in the closing minutes of play.
The Spartans’ slow start “was very frustrating,” said Gaines, who is also involved with the girls’ freshman and J.V. teams.
“I know the girls’ potential and I see a lot of good for them. We’re very young. I have a majority of sophomores and Cece is my only junior. We really came together in the final sets, though, and I just hope we can come out and play better on Tuesday.”
Central will host Palo Verde Valley High of Blythe at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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