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Lady Vandals stay perfect at 7-0

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By Andrew Harner

The Lady Vandals stayed undefeated on Tuesday night, winning their third conference match of the season by beating Carlinville in thrilling fashion, 20-25, 28-26, 28-26.

The match marked the fourth time that at least one set in a Vandalia match has gone past the 25-point threshold.
“This is my team’s demeanor,” said coach Allison Smith.

The match was decided late in the third set, when superior efforts from three Vandalia players broke a match-point serve for Carlinville and resulted in a deflating kill that tied the set at 26.

Junior Megan Godoyo’s dig on a Carlinville attack was not hit squarely and popped up and backwards, but senior Sierah Ruffner saved the ball with a pass to senior RaeChelle Leiken, who put the ball over the net, landing it between two Carlinville players for a kill.

Sophomore Ally Sasse then served the final two points, with Ruffner pounding a cross-court kill to secure Vandalia’s third South Central Conference win of the season and the first ever against Carlinville.

“It’s sweet, because last year, they were the team that upset us to win the conference,” Smith said.

Another part of the Lady Vandals’ demeanor is that they never give up, and it’s a good thing, because without that, Vandalia (7-0, 3-0 SCC) would never have gotten to a third set.

After struggling in the first set, the Lady Vandals fell behind 21-13 in the second set.

“In the first set, we played more as a group of individuals, but in the middle of the second set, we started to play together,” Smith said. “That was the difference in the game.”

Senior Gabby McNutt set Ruffner for one of her nine kills to get the ball back to Vandalia, but Carlinville got a kill two points later to take a 22-15 lead.

Then, McNutt set Leiken for one of her 12 kills, and Godoyo took a fantastic turn at the service line, forcing Carlinville into five errors to help bring the Lady Vandals to a tie at 22-22.

McNutt had 19 assists on the night, a season- and career-high, and looked more comfortable in her new role as the team’s primary setter.

“And the more practice she gets, the better she gets,” Smith said.

The Lady Cavaliers then had three match-point serves, but could not secure the point. McNutt served the final two points, securing an ace that stayed just inside the back boundary line for the set-winning point.

Vandalia took an early lead in the third set, but after the match was tied at 6-6, Carlinville took off to a 12-8 lead.

Godoyo served three straight aces to help tie the set at 12, and it would remain close until it ended with Vandalia staying undefeated.

“Usually, you have that one game (where things go wrong), and I thought tonight was going to be it,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we can learn from tonight that we can’t ever let up.”

Tuesday, Sept. 4
Carlinville 25, Vandalia 20
Vandalia 28, Carlinville 26
Vandalia 28, Carlinville 26
Kills: Leiken, 12; Ruffner, 9; Austyn Krueger, 5; Godoyo, 3; Shelby Foster, 2; McNutt, 1; Jessica Sullens, 1.
Aces: Godoyo, 3; Leiken, 3; Krueger, 2; Abby Dugan, 1; McNutt, 1.
Assists: McNutt, 19; Foster, 3; Sullens, 3; Leiken, 2; Godoyo, 1; Ruffner, 1.
Blocks: Ruffner, 1; Leiken, ½; Sasse, ½.
Record: 7-0 (3-0 SCC)
JV: Vandalia won, 25-20, 20-25, 25-12.

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Last Thursday, the Lady Vandals traveled to Roxana, and found themselves locked in a tight battle.

Led by senior Austyn Krueger’s 12 kills and seven aces, the Lady Vandals (2-0) overcame a first-set loss to win the match, 16-25, 25-15, 27-25, for their second South Central Conference win of the season.

Senior RaeChelle Leiken added 10 kills, and senior Sierah Ruffner posted eight. Assisting them were senior Gabby McNutt (12) and sophomore Jessica Sullens (11).

Thursday, Aug. 30
Roxana 25, vandalia 16
Vandalia 25, Roxana 15
Vandalia 27, Roxana 25
Kills: Krueger, 12; Leiken, 10; Ruffner, 8; Foster, 4; Godoyo, 3.
Aces: Krueger, 7; McNutt, 2; Ruffner, 2; Foster, 1; Leiken, 1.
Assists: McNutt, 12; Sullens, 11.
JV: Vandalia won, 25-17, 25-17.