MONMOUTH — A game score might show who won the game, but it doesn’t reveal the battle that was fought on the court.

A 3-0 loss against Corvallis (9-3 overall, 8-1 Mid-Willamette Conference) on Thursday night was how the game ended for the Central High School Panthers volleyball team (6-9 overall, 3-6 MWC), but during the three-set contest, the audience was on its toes as the Panthers refused to cave to the Spartans’ pressure. There was no telling who was going to win; it was anyone’s game.

“It’s the old roller coaster effect, you know, we have our ups and downs, but we don’t have the extreme highs and extreme lows like we have been,” said head coach Bruce Myers. “We’re on the kiddie roller coaster right now.”

Ranked 21st in the MWC league by the Oregon School Activity Association, the Panthers didn’t match up against the No. 6 Spartans.

On paper, anyway.

The game told a different story. The team has been putting in hard work on the courts during practice over the last several weeks; its improvements were made clear during Thursday’s game.

“We’re a much better volleyball team than we were in August,” said Myers. “So, we’re getting better. And Corvallis is extremely good — they’re one of the top eight teams in the state.”

In every set, the Panthers matched the Spartans’ energy, staying right behind them, never falling behind by more than six points until the third set, when Corvallis went on a 9-2 scoring spree that sent Myers signaling for a time out.

It’s unclear what was said in that time out, but whatever Myers said, it worked.

Returning to the court, the Panthers began notching points onto their scoreboard, trying to catch back up to the Spartans — even taking the lead at one point.

Overall, senior Grace Holstad added eight kills and three digs. Junior Kennedy Kantola contributed seven kills. Junior Emily Cole recorded nine assists and three digs, while senior Sydney Nash tallied up 11 assists.

The team didn’t win the game, falling 25-22, 25-19 and 25-17, respectively, but it walks away knowing what to do for next time: fixing the little things.

“Our blocking could have been better,” Myers said. “We let them have too many easy swings. We’re blocking too far out instead of moving over.”

On Saturday, the team kept the momentum going at the Hood River Valley Varsity Tournament, nabbing a 2-0 victory against Parkrose (7-7 overall, 5-4 Northwest Oregon Conference), and a 2-0 win against Redmond (3-8 overall, 0-5 Intermountain Conference).

“We had a extremely good day,” Myers said of the tournament. “It was nice to have multiple players step up and make plays throughout the day.”

This week marks the second half of the season. On Tuesday, the Panthers traveled to North Salem (2-12 overall, 1-8 MWC) after press time, and Thursday, the team hosts Silverton (4-8 overall, 4-5 MWC) at 6 p.m.

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