Central's lone seniors, Nakayla Fink and Camille Lucas, had major roles in helping the Lady Cougars snap a four-match losing streak.
Fink served an ace early in the first set and Lucas tallied a point with a kill that put Central up 8-3. With Elaina Vaughan serving, the Lady Cougars (5-13, 4-7) reeled off eight consecutive points to build a 20-7 advantage.
The Lady Longhorns served into the net to give the first set to Central.
The quick start was important for the Lady Cougars.
“Senior Night is always a special night for our seniors,” noted Central coach Logan Kemp. “Whenever we are able to come out and fight off the emotional part of Senior Night and then being about to take care of business is a good feeling for those two seniors.”
The Lady Longhorns fell behind 17-9 in Game 2, but they bounced back behind senior Kamryn Sluder's serve to pull to within 17-13.
But Lucas ended the rally with a kill set up by one of Laikan Hoback's 24 assists. The Lady Longhorns made another late charge in the set, closing to 24-20, but their miscommunication at the net gave the point and set to the Lady Cougars.
Central made quick work of Johnson County in the third set. The Lady Cougars scored 13 consecutive points on Fink’s serve and raced to a commanding 15-1 lead.
“I was moving my serve around and hitting all of my spots,” Fink said.
Central then closed out the match in dominating fashion.
Alyssa Grills had nine kills to pace the Lady Cougars. Lucas notched seven kills and Fink contributed five and 13 digs. Hoback had 10 digs to go along with her 24 assists. Maci Cloninger came up with 22 digs.
But the night belonged to seniors Fink and Lucas, who played their final match with the Lady Cougars before the home crowd at the Dickie Warren Dome.
“Tonight was a special night for me because I've played volleyball for 11 years,” Lucas said. “Knowing tonight would be my last game here, I wanted to do the best I could.”
The seniors’ contributions have not been limited to the court. Fink and Lucas have been instrumental in laying the foundation for the rebuilding of the program.
“Being the only two seniors is kind of hard at times for being a young team, since we have so many young girls,” said Kemp, who is in his second year as the Lady Cougars’ coach. “But they do a great job of bringing the girls together and help lead the team.”
Central closes out its regular season tonight at Unicoi County.