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VANDALIA – A pair of seniors who have both overcome numerous injuries are ready to take on the challenge of leading the volleyball team.
Megan Godoyo and Brandy Protz have each missed several games throughout their athletic careers as three-sport athletes at Vandalia, but both are healthy now as they look to lead the Lady Vandals to a second straight regional title.
“Wins are great, and I hope we get a lot of them, but the main focus is on regionals and sectionals,” Protz said. “I am hoping we can go far at the end of the year.”
Protz, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a sophomore during basketball and then missed time last season with a hip injury, has never played in a varsity volleyball game, but will be counted on this fall.
Godoyo, who also tore her ACL as a sophomore during basketball, rebounded to play in all 30 volleyball games last season, but she then suffered tears to both her medial and lateral meniscus in the same knee last winter.
“They have a lot of enthusiasm to just be on the floor since they have both struggled with injuries,” said coach Allison Hall. “They are excited just to run and do the little things we are doing now.”
The senior class came to high school with six volleyball players, but that tally has dropped in the past four years – partially due to injuries.
But with just the two of them, they expect to combine with a large junior class to compete for a regional championship.
“We’re down to two now,” Protz said. “I’m hoping we can continue what they did last year by having good teamwork with the juniors.”
Carlinville, which played in a sectional championship game last season, returns most of its roster from that team, and is the early favorite to win the South Central Conference.
“They have huge girls compared to us,” Protz said. “But, if we have good defense and get a couple of blocks, I think we can compete with them.”
The Lady Vandals defeated Carlinville last season because they were able to match Carlinville’s size with a front row of RaeChelle Leiken, Austyn Krueger and Sierah Ruffner.
But now that Vandalia’s game will rely more on passing and defense, it will take more than matching powerful hits and blocks to beat the Lady Cavies.
“Carlinville is always competitive,” Hall said. “They develop their program all year round, and now they are very tall.
“It’s always a contest with them, because their skills are very fundamentally sound.”
High in numbers
Volleyball recently has been a popular choice among females athletes at Vandalia, and this fall is no exception.
There are 27 players on the team, and Hall attributes that to the team’s run of success over the past decade.
“We’ve been a successful group every year,” she said. “It’s fun for the kids to be a part of the winning aspect, and that’s why they come out.”
Vandalia opens the season next Thursday with a county clash at home against St. Elmo/Brownstown.