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SPOTLIGHT
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Hoxie, Centralia play into the night Friday at GMC

Published on -10/28/2012, 7:46 PM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

A trademark of Hoxie High School's successful volleyball and girls' basketball programs are their depth. The Indians have long used a deep roster full of talented players. When someone is ineffective or is injured, the Indians rarely drop off.

However, that wasn't the case in Hoxie's final match of pool play on Friday night in the Class 1A, Division I state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Junior Kristina Farber, the team leader with 223 kills during the regular season, went down with an ankle injury early in the second set against Centralia. She came down on junior Natasha Allmer's foot and rolled it.

"I rolled it pretty bad this summer, and I rolled it back in sixth grade, and it's just kind of annoying," Farber said.

Farber returned midway through the set, but Hoxie couldn't bounce back. The Indians lost 20-25, 25-12, 25-17.

"When she went down, for some reason, we quit trusting each other," coach Shelly Hoyt said. "We couldn't recover from it."

No. 2 seed Centralia and No. 3 seed Hoxie took the top two spots in their pool and qualified for Saturday's semifinals.

"We tried playing for her, but I guess it didn't come out as planned," Hoxie senior Danel Stithem said.

However, no one had easy matches. Centralia went 3-0, but won all three of its matches in three sets.

Hoxie defeated Bucklin 25-16, 22-25, 25-18 and then beat Waverly 25-19, 25-19 to move to 38-3 this year. The win against Waverly was the only one of the six pool matches that went two sets. Hoxie and Centralia were supposed to play at 8:30 p.m., but didn't start until 10:07 and concluded at 11:14 in front of a nearly empty GMC.

"It's been a long day," Hoyt said. "That's part of volleyball, though. You are used to that."

In the other pool, Olpe and St. John qualified. Hoxie will face Olpe in the semifinals. Olpe is the defending Class 2A state champion, while St. John defeated Centralia in the Class 1A, Division I state championship last fall. Hoxie beat St. John for the 1A, Division I basketball title last season, but didn't reach the state volleyball tournament last fall. Hoxie and Centralia could meet up again in the final.

"It will definitely be reversed," Farber said with a smile.

Against Bucklin, Hoxie took the first set off six serves and several other serves that forced free balls or over passes that led to Indian kills. In the second set, Bucklin all-stare junior Morgan Hood -- one of the classification's top players and the Red Aces' best offensive threat -- delivered six kills. In the third set, Hood had five kills and three blocks. Hoxie was tied at 18, but finished on a 7-0 run.

Hoxie's talent showed in the finishing stretch as junior Gabi Spresser served well, Allmer had two kills, sophomore Carly Heim collected two blocks and Farber had a kill.

"They've got one heck of a player in that Hood girl," Hoyt said. "Late in the match, I thought Tasha and Lexi (Schamberger) and some of those kids up front just shut her down and that's hard to do. That's not an easy task at all. That kid is good."

After the win against Waverly, Hoxie faced Centralia. At that point, both squads had qualified and were playing for seeds entering Saturday. The Indians won the first set before Farber went down early. Centralia raced out to a 12-4 lead --- and never trailed again in the match.

"She plays all the way around and they are not used to anybody playing in that spot," Hoyt said. "But I am disappointed that they didn't pick each other up, I really am. On the other hand, they fought hard in the second and third set. We are just going to have to come back tomorrow and play with a lot of heart, and dig a little bit deeper and see what we can do."

Led by 27 kills from left-handed junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Koch, Centralia led 11-1 in the third set.

"We are not used to lefties, that's for sure," Stithem said. "We don't have very many lefties and not very many hard hitters like she is, so it's just hard adjusting and just closing our blocks was a major problem."

Hoxie rallied to a 19-15 deficit, but couldn't get closer.

"It was pretty cool," Farber said. "I thought that we could probably come back all the way, but we couldn't quite make it."

It marked the Indians' first defeat against a Class 2A or smaller classification team this year.

"They had the momentum, and this is a game of momentum, but we fought back," Hoyt said. "We fought back really hard. I thought that the kids did a great job, and they truly believed that they could win. It's just too bad that happened to Tina, because it might have been a different match."

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