East bounces back on senior night

Losing three of its past four matches, the Columbus East volleyball team needed a boost of energy.

On Tuesday, that boost came in the form of senior night.

Getting back to their winning ways, the Olympians defeated Bloomington South 25-9, 25-20, 25-14.

“Right now I’m kind of emotionally drained,” said Cortney VanLiew, one of East’s seven seniors. “Staying focused on the game instead of getting into the hype of senior night was really difficult for me.”

Leading 7-6, the Olympians (14-7) began to control their emotions and put together an 8-0 run en route to a first-set victory.

“This is the first class that has truly bought into the new era of Columbus East volleyball and the stuff that we are trying to do offensively, defensively and on and off the court,” East coach Stacie Pagnard said.

After a dominant first set, the Olympians allowed the Panthers to linger late into the second set. Leading 22-20, East rolled off three straight points to pull out the set.

“We practiced phenomenally (Monday) night, and then we transitioned what we practiced (Monday) night into tonight,” said VanLiew, who finished with 12 kills and 11 digs. “That was a big key for us.”

The third set would prove just how hard the Olympians practiced after losing three matches over the weekend. Leading by as many as 14 points, East would go on to finish off Bloomington South 25-14 in the final set.

“Anytime that you have seven seniors, it’s a testament to their class and their hard work and their dedication to the program. I commend them for that,” Pagnard said. “We have some really talented players. It’s a good group, a hard group to lose.”

Kendal Williams led the Olympians with 30 assists, while senior Alaysha Pollert chipped in 12 digs and two aces. Seniors Bailey Western and McKenna Chandler each had two blocks.

“I was trying to hold back the tears,” VanLiew said. “I know when I get home I’ll probably let them all out.”