DEWITT — As her team hit the midway point of Central DeWitt’s three-game sweep of Maquoketa, Sabers senior Becca Grell knew that the match was right where the Sabers wanted it.
The teams had played to a 16-all tie in the first set, but Grell could feel the Sabers’ confidence growing with every point. With Central DeWitt’s large student section firmly behind its squad, Grell and the rest of the Sabers knew that Thursday was their night to end two years of frustration against their arch-rivals.
They did so in an emphatic way.
Central DeWitt junior Mackenzie Kuehn’s run of seven straight points on her serve gave the Sabers a 22-17 lead in the opening set, and they never trailed again. Central DeWitt won 60 of the match’s final 90 points to notch its first win over the Cardinals since 2010, a 25-21, 25-12, 25-13 romp that thrilled the large crowd at Central High School.
“We’ve lost to Maquoketa two years in a row now, and it was nice to come out and get the win,” Grell said. “We thought it would be a close game, but once we got those few key plays out of the way, we went from there and it was a pretty easily played game.”
Once the first set was behind them, the Sabers (3-3, 1-0 WaMaC) appeared much more relaxed and quickly put a stranglehold on the match. In each of the final two sets, Central DeWitt established a commanding early lead, going ahead 20-5 in the second set and winning the first eight points of the final frame.
“It was great to see that the girls kept their heads focused and did a great job,” Central DeWitt coach Peggy Kuehn said. “I think it was just believing in themselves. Having the crowd behind them, they knew they could do it. Our aggressive serving from Mackenzie and the spot serving from Olivia (Haack, six aces) really helped us out throughout the night.”