URBANA — Sometimes, the game is merely a vehicle to another destination rather than the final stop.
Volleyball coaches Stan Bergman, from Centennial, and Angela Roloff, from Urbana, had an additional point of emphasis prior to Thursday’s Big 12 Conference match at the Tigers’ Oscar Adams Gymnasium.
“We wanted to represent the (Volley for the Cure) event the best we could,” Bergman said.
For the Chargers, it was the third successive year of involvement with the event that raises awareness — and money — for breast cancer and its research.
It’s a cause in which he is pleased to be associated.
“One of the biggest goals of our school district this year is to get athletes involved in the community,” Bergman said. “This is one way to reach out and use our time in a valuable way.”
After Centennial’s two-set sweep, 25-12, 25-15, moved the 18-2 team closer to its 14th consecutive 20-win season, one of the team’s senior starters, libero Lindsay Rogan, led a team prayer in the huddle to “honor those who have lost their lives and are still battling,” Bergman said.
The Chargers came in focused from the outset, taking a 3-0 lead in the opening set on three successive kills
by Bradley-bound Rachel Jones.
She, too, was honored to be involved in the Volley for the Cure match against the Tigers for the second year in a row.
“That made it more special,” Jones said. “We played for each other — and for other people.”
If there was any possibility of the Chargers overlooking an improved Urbana team that is 8-11, the junior varsity contest erased that temptation. The Tigers dealt Centennial its first JV loss of the season and the second in the past two years, covering more than 50 matches.
“We saw the JV lose and we said, ‘We won’t let them think they’re better than us,’” Jones said.
Teammate Kara Johnson had six of her seven kills in the opening set, one in which the Chargers never trailed.
While Centennial pounded 29 kills, it was another aspect of the opponent’s play that caught Roloff’s attention.
“Their passing game,” she said. “They have phenomenal passers.”
Bergman has the good fortune of quality depth, and he typically makes use of non-starters in Set 2.
Against the Tigers, starting setter Maddie Weldon had nine assists in the first set and Lexi Hall handed out seven in the second. Paulina Nottingham, who played in both sets, accounted for an additional nine assists.
“Our setters are doing a wonderful job of putting the ball where the girls can hit it,” Bergman said. “When they mix it up like that, it’s hard for defenses to read where it’s going.”
Jones collected kills on nine of her 11 swings (with no hitting errors). Even though she is a scholarship recruit, she doesn’t take her position for granted.
“Everyone on our team is good, and we have to compete with each other,” she said.
In the long run, Bergman believes that will promote more success for the team.
“Our junior class is an amazing class,” he said. “They push and motivate the seniors. We’ve got a very deep team, and the juniors have added a great dimension.”
Defensively, Johnson had six digs and Rogan five to lead Centennial. Lauren Cloyd was the other top hitter with six kills.
Urbana junior Alayna Jackson had two kills and two blocks. Junior Chelsea Skinner also had two kills, and senior Madison Cooper served the Tigers’ lone ace.
Students from each school solicited donations for the American Cancer Society
and collectively raised more than $333. Urbana held an edge of about $39 in the
fundraising portion of the venture.