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Andover Central shakes off slow start, stays undefeated

Published Sep. 3 at 2:16 p.m. | Last updated Sep. 2 at 10:12 p.m.

For the first set of Andover Central’s volleyball match Tuesday night at Valley Center, the Jaguars definitely didn’t look like a team that opened its season by winning all six matches at the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail tournament.

Andover Central trailed Valley Center as it fumbled its way to 13 unforced errors, including four missed serves.

But the Jaguars scored the set’s final three points, including a set-ending kill by sophomore Beth Schulte, as they went on to sweep the Hornets 25-23, 25-19. Andover Central rolled past Heights 25-15, 25-8 to improve to 8-0.

“It took us a while to wake up,” Andover Central coach Rachel Tyner said. “We pushed through at some important parts. That’s going to be crucial for us all season long — pushing through those little hiccups that we have, where stuff isn’t going our way.”

Valley Center, which is 2-6 after falling to Heights 25-20, 25-17, quickly had a 7-3 lead on Andover Central and led 14-7. But the Andover Central setter Brooke Pedersen got a kill, then Beth Schulte had two kills to help the Jaguars get within 14-12.

Valley Center’s final lead was at 23-22 on a stuff block by Mikaila Woods. The Hornets were led by Kyli Webber’s nine kills on the night.

Little went awry in the final three sets for Andover Central, which proved it has all the pieces to make a run into the postseason.

Pedersen runs the 5-1 offense and has plenty of hitters to choose from throughout a match. She spread the ball around to senior Julia Joseph (11 kills, two stuff blocks), senior Becca Schulte (five kills, five tips for points), junior Amanda Kakaoulias (six kills, three stuff blocks), Beth Schulte (seven kills) and sophomore Hannah Cole (two kills).

“I can count on everyone,” said Pedersen, who ran the 6-2 offense in 2013. “… Right now, definitely our passing is on point. I love when our passing is on point because as the setter, there’s nothing better than having a pass come right to you, so I can help the team — set them up and get a kill.”

Andover Central was on a roll when it faced Heights, which was playing in its season-opening matches.

“Given what they did at Hutch Saturday, I knew they were going to be legit,” Heights coach Tracy Doile-McHatton said. “You don’t go 6-0 without playing some pretty good volleyball. What I didn’t expect was the extent of our nerves.… The good part of the night is we come back (against Valley Center).”

Heights was led by senior Rianne Richard’s six kills and two stuff blocks, while sophomore Paige Rohner added six kills, sophomore Taylor Robinson seven, senior Janay Maggett four and freshman Trinity Conley three.

Andover Central isn’t surprised by its stellar start.

“I don’t think anyone else expected us to be 8-0,” Becca Schulte said. “But we have an air about us when we practice and work hard — we know we’re a good team, and we’re here to compete.”

As impressive as the first eight matches have been, though, Tyner is fully aware of the scrutiny that comes with it.

“We have the ability to be great,” she said. “We’re just going to have to continue to get better and work hard every day. At this point in time, we probably have a pretty big target on our back. Everyone else is goign to get better, so we’re going to have to do the same.”

Reach Joanna Chadwick at 316-268-6270 or jchadwick@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachadwick.