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Lady Vandals seek first regional title since '85

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By Andrew Harner

The last time Vandalia’s volleyball team won a regional championship was in 1985, but the Lady Vandals hope to change that on Thursday when they battle Flora at home for the regional crown at 6 p.m.

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After defeating Altamont on Tuesday, the top-seeded Lady Vandals (24-5) move on to the regional championship game for the second straight season.

Flora advanced to the game by beating Staunton in three sets, leaving coach Allison Smith to prepare her team to play a team she’s not familiar with.

“I don’t know anything about Flora,” Smith said after the Lady Vandals’ win.

She did get to see the Wolfgals play on Tuesday, and she will certainly have the team prepared to play on Thursday.

“That’s where we want to be, and we are taking it one day and goal at a time,” she said. “Hopefully, on Thursday we will get our last goal accomplished.”

Senior RaeChelle Leiken led Vandalia with 11 kills against Altamont, and Austyn Krueger added three service aces – which give her 50 for the season – to lead the Lady Vandals to victory.

It was a back-and-forth battle in the first set, with 13 ties and both teams leading at different times in the set.
Altamont’s largest lead came at 9-6, and Vandalia’s lead was never larger than that.

Krueger has back-to-back kills to cut that Altamont lead to one, and a few points later, senior Sierah Ruffner had a kill that was followed by two kills from Leiken to take a 13-12 lead.

By the end of the game, Ruffner had surpassed 150 kills for the season.

But Altamont came back again, taking an 18-16 lead before three straight Vandalia kills – one each from Leiken, Ruffner and sophomore Jessica Sullens – gave the Lady Vandals the lead for good, save for two ties.

Leiken killed off the final point to end the slow-paced battle.

“We played down to their level instead of with the intensity that we had against Pana (last Thursday),” Smith said. “But that’s the difference between those teams, and in the second set, we adjusted and played better.”

Altamont did start with a 3-0 lead, but once Vandalia went ahead at 5-4 on an ace from senior Gabby McNutt, the team wouldn’t trail again.

The closest the Lady Indians would get would be at 9-8, but two kills from Leiken soon after helped the Lady Vandals move ahead, 12-9.

Senior Shelby Foster had a kill, and that was followed by two aces from senior Abby Dugan, which gave Vandalia an insurmountable 20-14 lead.

Two kills from each Krueger and Leiken plus an ace from Foster finished off the victory.

“Everybody played pretty well,” Smith said. “It just wasn’t at the level as the other night.”

Tuesday, Oct. 23
Vandalia 25, Altamont 23
Vandalia 25, Altamont 17
Kills: Leiken, 11; Krueger, 8; Ruffner, 6; Foster, 3; Megan Godoyo, 1; Sullens, 1.
Aces: Krueger, 3; Dugan, 2; Foster, 1; McNutt, 1.
Assists: McNutt, 17; Sullens, 9; Ruffner, 1.
Blocks: Ruffner, 2; Leiken, 1.
Record: 24-5