CENTRAL VOLLEYBALL: Panthers eliminated from state tournament

EUGENE — Facing the top seeded team in the state playoffs, Central’s volleyball team saw its 2015 season come to an end, falling to Marist Catholic 25-16, 25-19, 25-12 on Saturday.

“I thought we played well for a few sets against Marist,” Panthers coach Claudine Mendazona said. “They battled hard and that was probably the best two sets we had played this year. Sometimes kids don’t rise to the competition level, but our girls did. Marist is a great team and they have some phenomenal athletes on their team.”

Central finished the season with an 8-12 record overall and a 6-8 mark in Mid-Willamette Conference play. Though the Panthers finished the season in fifth place in the MWC, five players earned all-league honors. Senior setter Kylie Nash, junior outside hitter Alex Dowdell and sophomore middle blocker Krista Omlid earned first team all-MWC recognition, while junior libero Jori Kerr and freshman defensive specialist Elizabeth Chavez received honorable mentions.

“I think it says a lot about our players getting some recognition, especially being a fifth-place team,” Mendazona said. “Coaches saw what they were capable of. We did outstanding in the all-league voting.”

Although the Panthers finished fifth in the league standings, Mendazona said the team showed flashes of its potential near the end of the season.

Central earned a spot in the state playoffs by defeating Crater 27-29, 25-22, 14-25, 2-21, 15-11 on Oct. 27 in the play-in round.

Krista Omlid had 13 kills to lead the Panthers to the play-in victory.

With four of its five all-league players set to return next season, Mendazona believes the future is bright for the Panthers’ volleyball program.

“I think towards the end of the season, they showed being No. 5 was probably not where they should have been,” Mendazona said. “They could have been No. 2 or No. 3 in our league. … I’m glad we finished strong, even though we lost. I look forward to what next year brings.”

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