By John Miller (For

Springfield, Mo. — For the primary time since 1978, the Central Bulldogs are district champions.

Third-seed Central swept top-seed Lebanon 26-24, 25-23, 25-23, on Thursday evening at Parkview Excessive Faculty, claiming its first district title in over 40 years.

“Often we get put out within the first spherical,” chuckled Tameya Neal, the Bulldogs’ lone senior. “Profitable simply feels actually good. It looks like we actually did one thing.”

Central (12-13) received simply six matches whole within the final two seasons. Final yr, they’d solely two victories. However there’s been one thing totally different about this yr’s workforce.

“The vibe on the workforce is certainly totally different,” Neal stated. “We’re extra collectively and have extra of a bond. That actually helps. We don’t get down on one another.”

That bond was vital Thursday, as Central (12-13) needed to compete with out its head and assistant coaches. Former freshman volleyball coach and present women basketball coach Caitlin Lamberth was left in cost.

“(Administration) requested me to assist out,” she stated afterwards. “I used to be simply right here to assist and clap.”

The Bulldogs trailed early in each set to the favored Yellowjackets. Central fell behind 9-3 and 20-15 within the first set earlier than rallying late. Three consecutive kills from freshman Miliana Sylvester helped shut out a primary set win.

Lebanon (13-10-1) led 19-17 within the second, solely to see Central rating 5 of the subsequent six factors and declare the set, 25-23.

Within the third, Lebanon constructed a 16-11 benefit that Central wiped away with 5 straight factors. The Jackets additionally held a 22-21 lead however couldn’t shut out the Bulldogs.

“We didn’t hand over,” Neal stated. “Each level. It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says, we disregarded that and targeted on the subsequent level.”

Central will now face Lee’s Summit West (18-6) within the Class 5 sectionals on Halloween. The Titans claimed District 12 on Wednesday evening with a 3-0 win over Joplin.

“This offers us an entire lot of motivation,” Neal stated. “We actually didn’t assume it was going to prove like this the place we’d have this chance.”

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