Sixth-ranked Keenan completed a season sweep of ninth-ranked Columbia with an easy Region 4-2A win over the host Capitals on Tuesday.
The young, rebuilding Raiders enter Thursday’s final region match with archrival Eau Claire with an 8-1 conference record and tied for first place with Central. Columbia, which blew its shot at forcing a three-way jam at the top of the standings, assumes the role of spoiler when it plays Central in its region finale on Tuesday. The best the Capitals can hope for now is to finish in the tie for second place with Central.
Keenan was rather lackluster in the first game, but pulled out a 25-23 win when the Capitals self-destructed after taking a 23-20 lead. It was no contest the rest of the way. The Raiders won by lopsided 25-6, 25-11 scores in the second and third games.
“We sometimes get off to slow starts before things start to click,” said Keenan coach Gwen Wilcher. “That’s what happens sometimes with a team as young as this one.”
Still, the Raiders mentor is more than pleased with the progress made by her young charges to date.
“I knew we had the talent to maybe win the region again, but I also knew we were young and needed to develop some chemistry on the floor over time,” she said. “We’re a little more consistent now than we were at the start of the season. We’re playing better as a team.”
Columbia had victory in site in the opener after an ace by Shaquetta Hilton upped the Caps’ lead to 23-20. But when Hilton’s next serve caught the net things changed quickly. Three of Keenan’s final four points came on unforced Columbia errors.
The difference in the second and third games was Keenan’s sharp serving and the Capitals’ serious serve-receive problems on the back row. Rebekah Davis, on Keenan’s first rotation, had 13 straight serving points with four aces. Davis them opened the third game with 11 straight serving points with four more aces.
Columbia’s back-row woes resulted in a total absence of offense. The Capitals had six kills in the first game, but only six more the rest of the way.
Davis, Brandolyn Mack and Quey Wilson had the big numbers for the Raiders, who now stand at 16-7-2 overall (including tournaments). Davis finished with nine aces, seven kills and three assists. Mack had six aces, six kills and eight assists. Wilson finished with 12 kills, two aces and one assist. In all, Keenan had 18 serving winners.
Areyonna Keels led Columbia with five kills.