VANDALIA – After dropping three straight conference games, Vandalia’s volleyball team got going in the right direction last Thursday with a win against Hillsboro.
The 25-23, 25-17 victory was the first game in a week for the Lady Vandals and moved the team closer to evening its South Central Conference record, while earning them their first win since Sept. 7.
“It was a much-needed win,” said coach Allison Hall. “Mentally, we needed that win to get back on track for the weekend tournament.”
Vandalia (6-4, 2-3 SCC) got eight kills from senior Megan Godoyo – who has led the team in the category in all 10 games – and seven from junior Mercedes Reynolds, who started for the first time in her career.
Reynolds has 12 kills in the past two games, and had three straight kills in the first set to spark a rally that saw Vandalia eliminate a three-point deficit and eventually earn the set victory.
The first six points of the game were all scored on attack or hitting errors, with Hillsboro holding the early 4-2 lead before sophomore Makayla Tinker earned the game’s first kill.
The teams traded a couple of leads before Reynolds’ run of kills, and there were five lead changes over the final 14 points, with neither team leading by more than two in the same span.
Junior Jessica Sullens sealed the win with three straight aces after the Lady Vandals had fallen behind, 20-21.
She had five total for the night, becoming the fourth player this season to have five aces in a match.
Sullens also paced the team with 17 of its 19 assists.
Hillsboro held the lead for the first 15 points of the second set, losing that lead when Godoyo had two kills and Reynolds had two aces as part of a 6-0 run that gave the Lady Vandals an 11-8 lead, which would not be relinquished.
Godoyo had five of her kills in the second set, and junior Kadi Metzger had the team’s lone block of the game to give Vandalia an 18-10 lead, the largest of the match for either team.
Hall said it wasn’t the cleanest game Vandalia has played all season – as evidenced by 17 attack errors and several blocking errors – but that that type of performance has been typical of homecoming week in the past.
“It’s homecoming week, so they are burning the candle at both ends,” she said. “There’s flag football, spirit week, the football game and the dance, so their minds are elsewhere.”
Thursday, Sept. 19
Vandalia 25, Hilsboro 23
Vandalia 25, Hillsboro 17
Kills: Godoyo, 8; Reynolds, 7; Metzger, 3; Tinker, 3; Johanna Walton, 3.
Aces: Sullens, 5; Godoyo, 2; Reynolds, 2; Jessica Booker, 1; Metzger, 1.
Assists: Sullens, 17; Reynolds, 1; Tinker, 1.
Block: Metzger, 1.
Record: 6-4 (2-3 SCC)
JV: Vandalia (5-1) won, 25-13, 26-24.
F: Vandalia (0-0-4) split, 25-22, 15-25.
Attacking, blocking next areas for Vandalia to improve
VANDALIA – Now that Vandalia has seemingly shored up its biggest weakness of the early season – working together as a team – it’s time to start to working on specific areas of play as the rebuilding process continues.
At their best, the Lady Vandals are a team with enough skill to make a serious run at a second straight regional championship, but the team has only been at its best for small portions of certain games this season.
Finding some consistency will go a long way for the inexperienced team, said coach Allison Hall, who is still engineering wins despite a roster with just one returning starter.
“We worked on that a lot this week,” Hall said after last Thursday’s 25-23, 25-18 win against Hillsboro. “We need to be consistent in attacking the ball quicker.
“Tonight, we came out timid,” she said. “All week we talked about being aggressive on the attack, and we didn’t do it.”
The Lady Vandals recorded 24 kills in the match, one of the lowest tallies of the season in a victory, but the bigger issue was the 17 attack errors.
And when the errors begin to pile up, the strength in the players' attacks begins to fade.
“If we are tipping, tipping, tipping, that means we’re being timid,” Hall said. “We’ve got to go attack the ball.”
Along similar lines, the Lady Vandals need to improve their blocking techniques, because the team lacks height.
Vandalia had just one block last Thursday, and Hall said improving the team’s blocking form will be a point of emphasis in coming practices.
“We are just jumping up and putting our hands up instead of looking for the ball,” Hall said. “We have to start looking for the ball, and then meeting the ball with our hands.”
Prolific attacking and blocking are needed to complement the strong serving and defense that the Lady Vandals have shown this year.
“I’m hoping that with a little bit of work, we will get there,” Hall said. “Once we get those down, we will be more confident.”