Kendra Wilken’s early exit from Central High School’s volleyball lineup left the Cougars at a disadvantage against the Columbia Eagles Tuesday night. Over the long haul, it might be a disaster.
The 6-foot-2 middle hitter and St. Louis University basketball recruit went down at the net holding her ankle and had to be helped off the floor. With no size left on the front line, Columbia was able to secure a straight-set, Cahokia Conference victory, 25-20, 25-17.
The extent of Wilken’s injury remains to be seen. She was taken immediately for x-rays, Central coach Jim Cook said.
“That will take a lot of punch out of us, because that's the only size we have,” he said. “We're getting beat up by bigger teams because they are able to hit over our smaller players.”
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Central took on four straight losses over the weekend at the Effingham Tournament and fell to 3-6.
Columbia lost a pair of matches at the Mascoutah Tournament, but bounced back to defeat Freeburg Saturday and improved to 13-2 with the win Tuesday.
"It's a good way to come back,” said Columbia coach Kelly Landgraf. “We lost this weekend in Mascoutah and dropped one to Murphysboro. It was good to come back on a two-game winning streak, especially coming here to Central. This is always a tough place to play."
Central held a 9-7 lead in the first set when Wilken came down awkwardly on her ankle after an attempt to block a shot. With Claire Long at the service line, Columbia scored five points in a row on its way to a 13-4 run. Junior Colene Hamilton had six of her match-high nine kills during the first set rally.
The Eagles jumped ahead quickly to a 7-2 lead in the second set. Neither team could rally for more than three points at a single stretch thereafter. But kills by Alyssa Yochum helped Columbia slowly open the lead to 23-14. Kills by Hamilton and Jordan Hausmann secured the set and match.
Hamilton’s nine kills led Columbia while Yochum added seven and Hausmann had four. Long led with eight service points.
For Central, Kim Hall and Alicia Book each had three kills. Grace Yaunches had five service points.
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"We got a solid game from Colene and a solid, solid game from Alyssa. Both of the outsides played extremely well. But we had 18 blocking errors ... That's how talented this group is — we can make that many blocking errors and still push through."
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“It's not been an easy year. We've lost a player with a concussion and have a couple out with ankles. But it's what you go through. I've been here long enough and I've seen it before."
Columbia plays at Red Bud Thursday with the junior varsity match starting at 6:15; Columbia is at Freeburg, also with a 6:30 JV start Thursday.