SIKESTON, Mo. -- The Central Tigers looked in the early going like they might not allow a point in their Class 4 District 1 volleyball match against Hillsboro.
The Tigers eventually did but had little trouble downing the Hawks 25-9, 25-16.
The third-seeded Tigers will face No. 2 seed Poplar Bluff at 6:30 p.m. today in the second semifinal match at the Sikeston Fieldhouse.
Central jumped all over Hillsboro early, taking a commanding 7-0 lead to start the match.
"That felt really great," Central's Chelsey Brown said. "We came in wanting to win. We've had a rough couple of past games so we needed this."
Brown's serving keyed the Tigers' early dominance.
Central scored off the Hawks' serve to start the game before Brown took over serving duties, rattling off six consecutive points.
"We got our serves over," Tigers coach Charity Huff said. "We got out and had really good placement."
It was clear from the start that Hillsboro was rattled by the powerful serves of the Tigers, failing to get a good return for the majority of the first game.
The Hawks clawed back to 10-5 before Central put the game out of reach, using a 5-0 run to push the lead to 15-5.
"That was awesome," Brown said. "That gave us the intensity we needed."
Hillsboro made one last desperate attempt in the first game, cutting the Tigers' lead to 16-9.
Central was unfazed, scoring the last nine points to end the suspense.
"Hillsboro picked up their game," Huff said. "But we picked ours up. We displayed confidence and that will to win."
The Hawks made the second game more interesting.
Hillsboro took its first lead of the match at 1-0 and maintained a 3-1 lead until Central took over.
The two teams battled back and forth with Central refusing to surrender the lead while the Hawks applied pressure.
Hillsboro won a long rally after the Tigers mishandled a tip to tie the game at 6-6, but Katie Williams had an emphatic kill on the next rally to silence Hillsboro's bench.
Central controlled the net throughout, earning multiple blocks and overpowering Hillsboro with kills.
"We played a lot more at the net," Huff said about Game 2. "We talked about taking the game to the net and did our best to keep it at the net."
Added Brown: "We've been working on blocking and our net play. We came out ready for anything."
Hillsboro cut the lead to 10-9 before Brown took over.
Brown served four straight winners to push Central's lead to 16-9 and take the wind out of the Hawks' sails.
"I concentrated more tonight," Brown said of her serving. "Throughout the season I've had a rough time serving, but tonight I was just on."
Added Huff: "She came out and did a good job serving-wise tonight. She was consistent and they had a hard time picking her up."
Hillsboro got no closer than 21-16 as Central cruised.
The Tigers were led by Brown's nine aces, four kills and three digs. Tori Scheller added five kills and one ace while Chelsea Pannier tallied four kills.