KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic overcame sloppy play and numerous absences from its starting lineup Tuesday night against Centura.
The Stars fended off the Centurions in the second and third sets to prevail in a three-set sweep, 25-18, 25-21, 26-24, at Kearney Catholic’s Cope Coliseum.
Julia McReynolds missed Tuesday’s game due to an illness while starting setter Sydney Conner has been injured all season.
“We had a lineup change and we’ve already been fighting lineup changes,” KCHS coach Kris Conner said. “There was some long runs there I would’ve liked to have seen us handle better there.”
After the Stars (8-5) faced little pressure in the first set, they eased to a 20-9 advantage in the second. It appeared the Stars would continue to overpower the Centurions (8-5), but the set quickly swung in the Centurions’ favor.
The Stars’ serve-receive was out of system and prevented them from attacking Centura’s defense. Unforced errors allowed the Centurions to rattle off 11 of the next 12 points to cut the lead to 21-20.
Ashley Keck registered a kill and an ace serve to give the Stars some breathing room in the second set, which they won by four points.
“I think we were too relaxed,” Conner said. “You have an 11-point lead and tend to lighten up and then pretty soon we start passing bad and then it’s a close ball game.”
The Stars’ struggles carried over into the third set. They opened the set by securing a 9-3 advantage, which quickly vanished.
The Centurions tied the match at 13-13 on Elayna Holcomb’s kill. The Stars won the next four points, but the Centurions battled back and held four one-point leads, including a 24-23 advantage.
Although the Centurions had set point, the Keck and Sarah Clinch scored kills and Ella Bruggeman served up an ace to win the set 26-24.
The Stars finished the match with a .149 hitting percentage, 13 ace serves and seven blocks. Keck paced the Stars with 14 kills and Clinch added seven.
“We have to just get more consistent as a team with passing and hitting and just try to get rid of a few more unforced errors from what we have right now,” Conner said.
Up next, the Stars face Grand Island Northwest at 7 p.m. Thursday at home.