The Vandalia volleyball team keeps finding ways to outdo itself.
A little more than a week removed from its first win over Pana in four years, the Lady Vandals made it two in a row over the Lady Panthers in a span of nine days Saturday – doing so under even more ideal circumstances the second time around.
Not only did the Lady Vandals beat Pana on its home floor – again – they did so in the championship game of the Lady Panthers’ own tournament, 25-15, 25-22.
‘It was sweet,’ said Lady Vandals coach Allison Smith of beating one of her team’s biggest rivals to finish off a 5-0-tournament performance.
And the key to Vandalia’s second straight win over Pana may have been some ill-advised razzing by the host team prior to the championship match.
‘Pana always sets up their tournament to make sure they’re in the championship game, and they got there,’ said Smith.
In fact, the Lady Panthers had already locked up first place in their pool when Stewardson-Strasburg and Vandalia met to determine first place in their pool.
The Lady Vandals went on to win that match 25-13, 27-25, and the trash talking ensued.
‘They were talking smack when we beat Stew-Stras in the playoff game, saying ‘Oh, we’re going to beat you,” Smith said. ‘That got the girls got fired up. And they came out and just smoked them in the first game.’
After rolling to an easy first game victory that featured the same intense, high level of play the Lady Vandals displayed Thursday in a dominating win at Greenville, VCHS overcame a momentary lapse to pull a match-clinching victory in Game 2.
‘The second game, they struggled a little bit,’ Smith said. ‘They stopped talking and got comfortable. …But we finally came back and got the win.’
The victory gave the Lady Vandals something that had been missing from a season that is shaping up to feature numerous unprecedented feats – a tournament championship.
The Lady Vandals are closing in on their first-ever SCC-East divison title and are just one win shy of matching the program’s single-season record of 21 victories.
But prior to Saturday, the lone blemishes on the Lady Vandals’ resume were a pair of disappointing finishes at their own tournament (5th) and the Altamont Tournament (3rd).
VCHS took its first step toward rectifying that situation by opening up play Saturday with a hard-fought 27-25, 25-27, 15-11 win over Argenta-Oreana.
Shelby Cearlock kicked off a huge tournament with seven kills in the win, while sophomore Taylor Parrish added six kills on 18 for 18 hitting and Mary Davis piled up 77 assists, including 17 kill assists.
The Lady Vandals followed with a 25-19, 25-23 sweep of a tough North Clay team, as Cearlock led the team again with seven kills, and Amanda Walton had five kills and four blocks.
Vandalia moved to 3-0 in pool play with another sweep, 25-22, 25-20, over Windsor, as Walton and Cearlock hammered down eight kills apiece.
VCHS then booked its ticket to the title match with a sweep of Stew-Stras, as Walton hammered down eight kills and blocked six Comet kill attempts. Carly Kelly stood out on defense as well, recording 12 digs.
Already a shoe-in for all-tournament honors, Cearlock saved her best for Pana, finishing with a team-high 10 kills. Walton added five blocks, while Parrish had five kills.
Amy Vieregge closed out the victory with a strong serve.
Henna, who recently became the Lady Vandals’ No. 1 server, set the tone by going 42 of 43 at the service line for the tournament.