By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
After outlasting Mid-Buchanan in a five-set match the night before, Lafayette was poised to stay undefeated and get a win over a city rival on their home floor Wednesday.
The Irish, however, suffered an early setback before the match even started when starting middle and senior Khiani Jackson got hurt in warm-ups.
Senior setter Taryn Smith also got hurt later in the match, and Central (3-1) overcame a slow start to sweep Lafayette 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-15) on Wednesday night at Lafayette High School.
Despite losing Jackson, Lafayette got off to a 16-10 start in the first set, but the Indians rallied to win it by a 25-22 margin.
The Irish (3-1) held their own early in sets two and three, but Central ultimately pulled away in both, and Lafayette couldn't keep up offensively.
"Injuries were kind of the end of us today," Lafayette coach Laura Rehmeier said. "We kept our energy up. We played hard. We fought tooth and nail to that end, but, Central is a strong program and I'm pretty proud of how our girls looked tonight."
On the other side, Central flexed its offensive prowess throughout, with five different players getting at least four kills. Senior middle Isabella Flaska led the way with nine kills and a block. Junior middle Katie Miller had five kills and a team-high four blocks.
"We're just super happy that we got it over with in three sets," Miller said, "and that we all worked together and communicated really well. We just executed on offense and defense."
Senior outside hitter Maris Hale knocked down five kills. Fellow seniors Ella Moody and Abby Dorsey each had four. Junior libero Hannah Watson came off the bench and had a string of three consecutive ace serves in the third set.
Just like they've done in previous matches this season, Central showed many different looks with several different rotations. Head coach Monica Flaska has told her team that getting a starting spot, or significant playing time, is something that has to be earned.
"I tell them that it's a battle in practice," Flaska said. "When they're on the court, it's also a battle. So, I put someone in and if they're kind of outplaying that other person, then I let them have a go."
All-in-all, Flaska was proud of her team for overcoming a sluggish start in the first set, and controlling the tempo in the last two.
"I was proud of them for battling back and showing character and still getting the W," she said. "But, I think it's so loud and intimidating at first, and they couldn't hear. They weren't communicating. Their energy was down. Lafayette, they had the momentum shift from the beginning in terms of how loud they were."
With a group of eight seniors and a solid start to the season achieved, Flaska is excited about what the future may hold for a program that hasn't hung any banner in recent memory.
"In terms of the rest of our season," Flaska said, "I'm very, very hopeful that this will be our best season yet. With any sport, it's a mental climb the whole season and you just hope you peak in mid-October."
Central will host Benton on Monday. Lafayette, meanwhile, will play its third match in as many days when they head to Savannah on Thursday.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.