The Ankeny Centennial volleyball team has been trying to find some additional offensive weapons to take the pressure off leading hitters Delaney Miller and Jaeden Pratt.
The second-ranked Jaguars may have found some answers.
Gabby Mixdorf had six kills and Ava Kronenberg added five more to help second-ranked Centennial to a 25-14, 25-15, 25-7 victory over visiting Iowa City West in a Class 5A regional semifinal on Thursday.
“Ava was on fire,” said Centennial coach Jessica Rinehart. “We’ve been working on getting our middles involved more, and she’s been working extremely hard and tonight it paid off. That was fun to see.”
Kronenberg, a 6-foot senior, also played a big role on defense, contributing six blocks. Mixdorf had three more.
“It feels fantastic,” said Kronenberg. “All the girls have been putting in so much work. Just the team culture–everyone is talking to each other, and everyone is hyping each other up. The energy is just crazy all around. I think that’s what makes us really great.”
The Jaguars (29-6) advanced to Tuesday’s regional final against No. 15 Council Bluffs Lincoln (22-19). Iowa City West ends the season at 9-25.
“We watched film on them,” Rinehart said of the Trojans. “They were down a player when we watched film, so they had another nice piece that we didn’t see on film. We have been focusing on ourselves and getting better, but we wanted to have an idea of what Iowa City West had and I thought they played really well. They have some really nice players on that side. For a (regional semifinal) match, it was one of the tougher teams we have faced.”
Centennial pulled away to win the first set. The Jaguars closed it out on a kill by Miller, who had 11 kills and hit .429 on the night.
Miller had back-to-back aces in Set 2 to give Centennial a 13-8 lead. Kronenberg later made two consecutive blocks to extend the margin to 23-14.
Shortly thereafter, Miller served another ace to close out the set.
In Set 3, Addie Pollock served two more aces as the Jaguars jumped out to an 8-3 lead. They eventually closed out the match on a kill by Mixdorf.
“We’ve been working on finding our rhythm,” Rinehart said. “It starts with tempo passing. When our passes are all the same tempo, the sets tend to be the same tempo and then we’re clicking on all cylinders. We’re working on keeping all hitters involved across the board, and I thought it looked good tonight.”
Pratt finished with nine kills. Mya Lei-Butters had 13 digs and three aces.
Setter Kambria Leazer dished out 27 assists, had eight digs and completed all 15 of her serves.
“We’ve had a plan to feed the middles more, but other than that I think we just felt the energy and we just went with it,” Kronenberg said. “We’ve been getting a lot stronger in the middle and feeding our middles, and I’m really happy about that. Kam has just been doing a phenomenal job along with our defense putting those balls up.”
Council Bluffs Lincoln advanced to the regional final with a 25-7, 25-12, 25-16 win over Sioux City West. Senior Molly Romano entered the match with 848 assists, which ranks third in Class 5A.
“They’re a good team,” Rinehart said of the Lynx. “Their setter is really solid. They’ve got some good pieces, so we’re going to have to come ready to play.”