Vandalia gets big win in Wollerman's final home game

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By Andrew Harner

The night was all about the team’s lone senior, and by the end of the night, every varsity player that entered the game had given her a fitting tribute.


Haley Wollerman has never missed a game in her four years with the Lady Vandals and has never taken a play off during a game. And by playing with that same desire, all her teammates helped lead Vandalia to a 25-19, 28-26 win last Thursday against Taylorville in Wollerman’s final home game.

“That explains her whole career in a nutshell,” said coach Allison Smith. “Everybody on this team contributed to this win, and I thought we played the way Haley plays.”

Wollerman, who could have close to 500 assists and 75 service aces by season’s end, has been the primary leader for the Lady Vandals this season, and she hopes to guide Vandalia to its first regional championship game appearance since 2009.

If she, and the team, play the same way they did against Taylorville, which is a Class 3A school and the No. 1 seed in its regional tournament, there is a good chance that can happen.

The Lady Vandals would have to beat second-seeded Carlyle and top-seeded Breese Central to achieve that task, but after seeing how the Lady Vandals were able to come back against Taylorville, it shows their resilience.

Trailing 12-9 during the second set, it was Wollerman who rescued the team, assisting junior RaeChelle Leiken on a kill before serving back-to-back aces to tie the game, then making a diving save before assisting sophomore Megan Godoyo on a kill to go ahead, 13-12.

The set would be tied 11 more times before it was decided, and the Lady Vandals were down to their last point twice, at 24-25 and 25-26.

Both times, however, junior Sierah Ruffner earned a kill to move the game back into a tie, but the second time, she also killed off the next point to give Vandalia its second match-point of the night, the first having come at 24-23.

Taylorville aimed its next kill toward the right side of the floor, and the Lady Vandals watched intently as the ball fell just outside the boundary line, sending the team and crowd into elation, and Wollerman into an emotional embrace with her coach.

“That’s this team,” Smith said. “They like to keep it close, have fun and be in those tight situations. As young as we are, varsity-experience wise, it says something that we can come out with a win like this.”

Vandalia has just two true returning starters in Wollerman and junior Austyn Krueger. The others last season primarily played off the bench or started for the JV.

Krueger was a vital piece to the win last Thursday, earning six kills and a block. Her one ace ended the first set and provided momentum for the second.

“It was nice to get the first (set),” Smith said. “I didn’t really know how we would do, because they are rated No. 1 in their regional and are a bigger school.”

Smith also said she had not tried to scout the Lady Tornadoes, who Vandalia defeated last season, 26-24, 25-11, instead telling her players to focus on playing as a team, no matter what Taylorville did.

That certainly happened, as six players had at least one kill, four had at least one assist, four had at least one ace and seven had at least one dig.

Vandalia started the first set with a 2-0 lead, but it fell behind by two points at 7-9, before coming back to tie the game at 10 on a kill by Krueger.

Wollerman stepped to the service line and helped Vandalia go ahead, 13-11, and three straight kills, one by Krueger and two by Leiken that were all assisted by Wollerman, later put the Lady Vandals ahead, 23-17.

Vandalia at Marquette

The Lady Vandals defeated Marquette Catholic, 25-14, 25-14, during a road game on Tuesday.
Vandalia now has 22 wins on the season.

Wollerman led the way in the game, with 10 service aces, and Krueger led the team with six kills.

Season finale

The Lady Vandals close the regular season on Thursday, with a big matchup at Pana.

Vandalia and Pana have split the two season battles so far, with Pana winning in Vandalia, and the Lady Vandals winning during the Pana Tournament.

Box Scores
Vandalia 25, Marquette 14
Vandalia 25, Marquette 14
Kills: Krueger, 6; Ruffner, 4; Godoyo, 2; Leiken, 1.
Aces: Wollerman, 10; Leiken, 3; Krueger, 2.
Blocks: Leiken, 2; Ruffner, 1.
Assists: Wollerman, 11.
Record: 22-6

Vandalia 25, Taylorville 19
Vandalia 28, Taylorville 26
Kills: Leiken, 8; Krueger, 6; Ruffner, 4; Godoyo, 3; Shelby Foster, 2; Wollerman, 1.
Aces: Wollerman, 2; Foster, 1; Godoyo, 1; Krueger, 1.
Blocks: Krueger, 1; Ruffner, 1.
Assists: Wollerman, 17; Foster, 2; Godoyo, 1; Leiken, 1.
Digs: Godoyo, 14; Wollerman, 12; Ruffner, 8; Krueger, 7; Foster, 3; Leiken, 2; Gabby McNutt, 1.
Record: 21-6