Seventh-graders advance in regional tourney

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By Andrew Harner

GREENVILLE – A rotation switch helped the Vandalia seventh-grade volleyball team score 26 aces during a 25-12, 25-10 win against Litchfield on Monday during the first round of the regional tournament.

Molly Kern opened the game as the No. 1 server for the Jr. Lady Vandals for the first time this season, and she quickly went to work, earning aces on six of the first nine points of the game to put Vandalia ahead, 9-0.

“We switched our first server after losing to Hillsboro,” said coach Jane Bell. “Molly is our big server, and she did exactly what she is supposed to do.”

Kern later finished off the match by serving 10 aces in 11 tries for the final 11 points of the match. With the win, Vandalia moved on to play on Wednesday against Carlinville.

The winner of that game moves to Thursday’s regional championship game, which begins at 4 p.m. at Greenville Junior High School.

After Kern’s match-opening streak, Litchfield was eventually able to get a small streak of its own, earning five straight points to cut Vandalia’s lead to 11-6.

That, however, would be the only time in the match that Litchfield would score more than three points in a row.

“We remained calm,” Bell said. “I preach the pass, set, spike (method), instead of ping-ponging back-and-forth.”

Running an organized offense limits mistakes, and that showed on Monday, when the Jr. Lady Vandals had six kills but just three attack errors.

If Vandalia (13-6) continues that for the rest of the week, then success could very well follow, Bell said.

“Hopefully, we can control our emotions,” she said. “In junior high, you have longer swings in momentum, so you can go five or six points good, then five or six points bad.”

Against Litchfield, the Jr. Lady Vandals scored at least four straight points five times, including a stretch following the Jr. Lady Panthers’ streak in the first set and a stretch that gave Vandalia the lead in the second set.

Litchfield opened the second set with two points, and continued to play Vandalia close until a tie at 5-5.

At that point, Vandalia’s Macye Sarchet earned an ace, and served three more points to put the team ahead, 8-5. After one point from Litchfield, Emma Meyer had two aces to put Vandalia up by five.

In the first set, Meyer recorded her team-high four kills.

Meyer’s success is just one example of the vast improvement the team has made since it opened the season with a record near .500.

And that is one of the main aspects of the season that Bell will remember.

“No matter what happens this week, I am so proud of them because they have improved so much,” she said.

Monday, Feb. 27
at Greenville Regional
vs. Litchfield
Vandalia 25, Litchfield 12
Vandalia 25, Litchfield 10
Aces: Kern, 17; Meyer, 3; M. Sarchet, 3; Carson Howard, 1; Madison Klanke, 1; Hannah Mayhaus, 1.
Kills: Meyer, 4; Howard, 1; Klanke, 1.
Assists: Klanke, 2; Howard, 1.
Record: 13-6

Friday, Feb. 24
at Ramsey
Vandalia 25, Ramsey 12
Vandalia 25, Ramsey 14
Aces: Kern, 10; Klanke, 3; Meyer, 1.
Kills: Meyer, 6; Klanke, 5; Klanke, 2; Sarah Bigelow, 1.
Record: 12-6

Thursday, Feb. 23
at Hillsboro
Hillsboro 25, Vandalia 21
Vandalia 25, Hillsboro 17
Hillsboro 25, Vandalia 17
Aces: Kern, 6; Courtney Sarchet, 6; Meyer, 1.
Kills: Meyer, 12; Kern, 4; Klanke, 4.
Record: 11-6 (6-2 JMSC)

Eighth-grade scores

Friday, Feb. 24
at Ramsey
Vandalia 25, Ramsey 22
Vandalia 25, Ramsey 23
Aces: Mindy Ritchey, 4; Makayla Tinker, 4; Leah Francis, 3.
Kills: Francis, 2; Ritchey, 1; Tinker, 1.
Record: 15-6

Thursday, Feb. 23
at Hillsboro
Vandalia 25, Hillsboro 4
Vandalia 25, Hillsboro 15
Aces: Lexi Buechel, 10; Karlie Bright, 6.
Kills: Bright, 2; Buechel, 1.
Record: 14-6 (6-2 JMSC)

The eighth-grade regional tournament begins next Tuesday in Staunton. Vandalia has the No. 1 seed, and will face eighth-seeded East Alton-Wood River at 4:15 p.m.