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ST. ELMO – Though Vandalia served six aces on the night, it was the diligent serve-receive of St. Elmo/Brownstown that helped propel the Lady Eagles to a regional victory on Monday.
Fifth-seeded SEB took down the No. 4 Lady Vandals, 27-25, 25-21, in a first round game at St. Elmo High School.
Only half of those aces were the result of errors committed by sophomore Gabi Moore and junior Elizabeth Guerrero, the two players who coach Elise Asher has relied on to field most of the serves since the Mattoon Tournament finished.
“Part of it was getting to know who needed to do what,” Asher said of why the team has improved so much in receiving serves since the start of the season. “There was a maturation process over the season, and we were able to pick out Gabi and Elizabeth to run a two-person serve-receive, which I have not done since 2003.”
It wasn’t the initial plan to rely on two passers, but when Jenna Miller was injured on Sept. 3, that took away a passer.
But Asher and the Lady Eagles didn’t panic, instead putting Moore and Guerrero – the libero – in the back row to handle most serves.
Vandalia coach Allison Hall said she noticed a significant difference in how the Lady Eagles received serves on Monday when compared to a season-opening matchup of the two teams on Aug. 29.
“They serve-received better than what they did when we played them on the first night,” Hall said. “They have really improved in that area.”
Asher, who annually makes the team’s serving one of her highest priorities, has once again done that, but now that it has been combined with stellar serve-receiving, the Lady Eagles have won nine straight games and reached the 20-win plateau.
The combination of strong serves – the Lady Eagles had just one service error and posted four aces against Vandalia – has made them difficult for opponents to defend.
“(Vandalia’s coaches) told me after the game that they were trying to find someone to serve to, and they couldn’t,” Asher said.
Additionally, the duo excels at digging up other team's attacks.
Moore had a team-high eight digs against Vandalia, and Guerrero added four.