With a match under their belts and playing before a large home crowd, the Columbia Eagles had a distinct advantage over Althoff before the first point was served Thursday at Columbia High School.
Columbia juniors Colene Hamilton and Kelly Metter made sure it stayed that way.
Metter broke open a close opening game with a 13-point service run and the high-flying Hamilton took over late in game two as the Eagles romped to 25-11, 25-20 win over the young Crusaders in a nonconference volleyball match.
Columbia (2-0) led 4-3 following Hamilton's first kill of the night, when Metter, a libero, stepped to the service line for the first time in the match.
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Three more kills by Hamilton, two by Jordan Hausmann and a kill each by Shea Bradshaw and Elizaebth Fleming – combined with four hitting errors by the Crusaders – and Columbia had a 16-3 lead before Althoff's Emily Myatt ended the streak.
By that time, the Eagles owned a 16-4 advantage
"We came out and played very well. Of course that 13-point run really helped, but that was a situation where we had everything in place and everybody executed perfectly,'' Eagles coach Kelly Landgraf said. "Our defense played great and we just really played well in that stretch.”
Althoff, playing with a roster dominated by underclassmen, fought back in game two.
The Crusaders trailed just 22-20 following consecutive kills by Myatt and Central Arkansas University recruit Alanna Bramwell, but a hitting error and kills by Bradshaw and Hamilton ended the match
"We were very nervous in the first game and it showed,'' Althoff coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich said. "Columbia is a very good team and they were hitting winners on us. But we're a young team. At one time, we had four sophomores on the floor at the same time.
"You never want to lose, but we're going to use this as a learning experience and get better. We saw some things that we need to work on and you better believe that tomorrow (Friday), we're going to be on the our doing just that.''
Bramwell, held to just one kill and two blocks in game one, did play better in the second game.
The Crusaders senior tied the game at 14 on consecutive kills, but a block by Metter and a kill by Hamilton gave the Eagles the lead for good.
Bramwell finished with eight kills and three blocks. Hamilton led all players with 14 kills, nine coming in game one.
"She (Bramwell) is a great player and we wanted to keep track of where she was on the court at all times,” Landgraf said. “She is a player who hits well off her back foot and while she got her touches and scored a few times, I thought we did a good job on playing defense on her.
“Colene (Hamilton) can flat jump out of the gym and tonight she played very well. I'm pleased we're 2-0 and playing well to start the season.''