TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central hung with Traverse City West point for point for almost a whole set.
Then the Titans took off.
The teams sat tied 21-21 in the opening set Wednesday at Central’s gym with a limited spectator numbers.
Those in attendance then saw the Titans open it up, closing out the set on a 4-1 flourish, running with its momentum from the first game to sweep rival Central 25-22, 25-11, 25-17.
“It feels so good,” Titans junior outside hitter Becky Lane said. “I’m just so happy right now. This is going to be be a great season, I can feel it. I’m just so excited for the rest of the season.”
Central took two of three matchups from West last year, so taking the Big North Conference opener made a statement.
“It feels good it feels good because it’s been two years coming,” West head coach Emily Baumann said. “We’ve had a very young team for two years now. We’ve worked with these girls from since they were little baby freshmen, and now I have six juniors, so definitely the experience and the court awareness and playing together as a team helped tremendously.”
Both entered Wednesday’s battle with 6-2 records, starting off 6-0 before dropping a pair in Central’s home quad Monday.
“Whenever you play your rival school and they know the girls, they are always nervous,” Baumann said. “It’s always those jitters and it just takes a while to like get moving and get going and we made a lot of errors that first game. Once we got that first game under our belts we kind of were like, ‘OK, now it’s time to settle in and play,’ so I was very proud of them.”
Sparked by the first set’s ending, West started the second with a 14-3 run ended by Madison Neu kill. The Titans led 22-8 at one point on a Leah Allen ace.
“First set, we were still getting our jitters out,” Lane said. “We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re actually playing them.’ Then the second game, we said, ‘We gotta crank it.’ Then we started working together as a team and really getting passes up and working our offense.”
West also cranked up the serving pressure, outpacing Central in aces 16-6, led by six from Sara Schermerhorn, five from Lane and two each by Allen and Sammy Schaub.
The Titans kept going in the third set, lighting out to an 11-4 lead that featured at least three Lane kills and an ace and a kill by Schermerhorn.
Sophomore Makenna Ebling closed out the match with a spinning return that fell along Central’s back line for the Titans’ 25th point.
“We’re super young,” Central head coach Jen Wright said. “I only have one senior on the floor. And I think we showed that today. I don’t think we had the mental toughness yet to be able to withhold the point-for-point battle throughout the whole thing, but I hope we’ll get there by the end.”
Lane led West (7-2) with 12 kills, while Alaina Mikowski and Ebling added seven each and Allen and Neu chipped in five. Mikowski posted three blocks, Schermerhorn dished out 25 assists and Ally McKenna chased down 20 digs.
Central (6-3) returns to BNC play next Wednesday at Petoskey. West also is off until Wednesday, hosting Gaylord in league play.
Senior Emma Turnquist led Central with nine kills and three aces, while junior Kailey Parks put up two aces, six kills and nine digs. Phoebe Humphrey added three kills and two blocks, Natalie Bourdo had 14 digs, Sophia Hagerty posted 19 assists, Sarah Auger notched three kills and Kiley Ridenour put down four kills.
“I thought Kailey Parks had a good game,” Wright said. “She had an all-around good day. She made herself available wherever she was on the floor and she talked really well today.”