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Central Mountain Girl’s Volleyball takes 3-0 loss to West Branch High School

Sophomore OH McKenzie Hanna (11) of Central Mountain High School Girl’s Volleyball prepares to knock the ball over the net against West Branch High School during a high school volleyball game in Mill Hall on Monday, Sept. 17. CM lost 3-0. (The Express/Tim Weight)

MILL HALL — Central Mountain head coach Scott Garman had his first regular season assessment of his Wildcats on Monday night. An extended three-week vacation separated him from his coaching duties, but he was pleased with the team’s performance against West Branch.

Central Mountain was swept, 3-0, but the team showed grit and resilience in defeat. The Wildcats’ record dipped to 0-2 on the season, but with the bulk of its schedule still remaining, Garman expects the team to continue its progression as the season goes on.

“With what I saw [tonight], I was really encouraged by,” Central Mountain coach Scott Garman said. “We’re all about process over product. The process is there, and if we keep working at it, the product is going to come. I think what we saw tonight was a [West Branch] team who’s disciplined, refined and has a little more experience against a team that’s a little bit less experienced and just needs more work.”

Tatum Malone recorded a team-high six aces, and Jenni Skow posted a Wildcat-high six kills and four digs. Loni Duck was second on the team with one kill and contributed another two digs.

“I was pleased with the great leadership across the board,” Garman said. “Jenni Skow is a great leader for us, and Loni really brought her A-game tonight, but we just weren’t able to get her the ball enough. If we can get Loni the ball more, we’re going to have a bit more success.”

Central Mountain lost the first set, 25-7. Already ahead 9-3, West Branch server Taylor Myers recorded a 12-0 rally to extend WB’s lead, 21-3. WB grabbed a 25-7 win after CM batted the ball out of bounds.

CM’s game one struggles were a result of failing to keep the ball between the lines.

“A lot of those [miscues] just go back to a lack of repetition,” Garman explained. “We’ve had almost a week off of missed practices due to the flooding, and also due to mold in the school systems and stuff like that. We’re just rusty, inexperienced and it’s a combination of the two. We just need more time.”

CM regrouped in game two, but still fell 25-21. CM trailed 20-12, but with Madison Knepp at the line, they surged for a 5-0 rally to cut WB’s lead, 20-17. Both teams traded points the remainder of the set before West Branch locked a 25-21 win.

Tatum Malone’s brilliant serving in game three kept the set competitive. CM trailed 23-10, but Malone ripped six aces during an 8-0 rally to slash WB’s lead, 23-18.

“She was hitting her spots on the serve,” Garman said of Malone. “If we can hit our spots on our serve, it allows me to help control and dictate some of the pace of the game. And it allows me to pick out where I want the ball to go at on the other side. “

West Branch responded accordingly and finished the set with a pair of points to win the game, 25-18, and the match sweep.

Central Mountain’s record slipped to 0-2 on the year, but Garman remained optimistic. His post-game speech with the team centered on remaining committed to the process.

“I told them not to be disappointed with the product right now,” Garman said.“The process is there, and if we stick to it the product will begin to follow once we get a few more weeks of competition and practice under our belts.”

CM 7 21 18 – 0

WB 25 25 25 – 3

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