BREESE — In a see-saw match, the Central Cougars definitely finished on an upswing.
Maddie Timmermann had six of her 14 kills in the deciding third game as the Cougars turned back the Columbia Eagles 25-16, 22-25, 25-18 on Saturday in the championship match of the Monster Mash Volleyball Tournament.
"Absolutely," Central coach Jim Cook said of wishing his team played like it did during the third game for an entire match. "When you have the kind of letdowns that we had, we have to stop that. When they made that run at us and won that second set, it was a lot of unforced errors.
"We did too many things to ourselves. At least, we were able to come back. That third set, that's the way we should be taking stuff at people."
Timmermann was selected as Most Valuable Player for the tourney. She had kills to help the Cougars tally five of their final nine points in the third game.
"That's our go-to person, that's where we should go," Cook said. "She's smart enough to get past blockers. She's smart enough to know when there are three (blockers) on her and where she needs to go with the ball."
The Cougars also got strong performances at the net in the championship game from Maisie Kampwerth, who was chosen to the all-tournament team, and Makenzie Jackson.
"Makenzie played well in this tournament, and Maisie got all-tournament and she deserved it," Cook said. "She played strong in this tournament. Hopefully, that continues."
The Cougars improved to 28-5, while the Eagles fell to 25-7.
Three of the Eagles' losses this season have come to the Cougars.
"We certainly don't give up," Eagles coach Kelly Landgraf said. "The girls hung with them pretty well. This is our third time playing them, so we kind of knew what to expect. We kind of knew where they were going."
Landgraf said that Eagles struggled whenever the Cougars picked up the pace on offense.
"We're young and when they throw that quick game in there, you can definitely see our youth come through," Landgraf said. "We're a young team and we don't adjust well to that quick speed of the game."
Leading 16-14 in the first game, the Cougars pulled away to a 25-16 win.
Torre Kohrmann served up the final three points that included a kill by Kendra Wilken and back-to-back spiking errors by the Eagles.
The Eagles jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second game, but the Cougars pulled in front 9-7 on a kill by Kampwerth,
Trailing 21-18, the Cougars got a six-point service run by Rachel Ribolzi to go ahead 23-21. Megan Huffman had two kills to highlight the charge.
After a kill by Kampwerth, the Eagles got another kill from Hoffman and a kill by Kelly Metter to force a third game.
"We do that a lot of times," Kampwerth said of the Cougars' tendency to have lulls in the second game of matches. "The second game we come out not as strong as we should be, and that makes us play a third game. We ended up coming back in the third game. We were hitting the ball, the passes were there, so that helps a lot."
Aces by Taylor Rakers and Lauren Willis helped the Cougars grab a 7-2 lead in the third game.
The Eagles got within 7-6 on a kill by Jordan Ripplemeyer and within 12-10 on an ace by Taryn Pena, but they were never able to wrestle the lead way from the Cougars.
Belleville East beat Waterloo 25-23, 25-15 in the fifth-place match, while Freeburg outlasted Collinsville 19-25, 25-20, 15-9 in the third-place match.
The Midgets (17-11) are 12-5 over their last 17 matches with all of their losses coming to either Central or Columbia during that span.
"We're working on trying to eliminate a lot of the unforced errors we had at the beginning of the sesaon, and we're finding ways to do that," Freeburg coach Lesa Bolt said. "If we make a couple, we are finding a way to get out of that long error zone that we used to have."
Both Huffmann amd Ripplemeyer represented the Eagles on the all-tournament.
Making up the rest of the all-tournament team were: Marion's Montana Schafer, Freeburg's Chelsea Hill and Emily Vahlkamp, Nashville's Jordi Harre, Waterloo's Kelli Kosydor and Collinsville's Cathy Schreiber.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.