Lady Vandals get to 20 wins

HIGHLAND – The Lady Vandals earned their 20th win of the season and senior RaeChelle Leiken was named to the all-tournament team as Vandalia placed fourth at the Highland Invitational this past weekend.

Leiken recorded 39 kills and five aces in the five matches, during which the Lady Vandals went 2-3 to move their season record to 21-4.

Vandalia and Wesclin were the only Class 2A schools in the tournament, and the Lady Vandals fell to Class 4A O’Fallon and Class 3A Breese Central and Highland, while defeating Wesclin and Class 3A Carbondale.

Each match except the one against O’Fallon went three sets.

Coach Allison Smith said before the tournament that it would serve as preparation for postseason play, and last Thursday, it was announced by the Illinois High School Association that Vandalia would have the No. 1 seed at the Vandalia regional.

Other No. 1 seeds in Vandalia’s section are Pana, Carlinville and Newton. Regional action begins on Monday, Oct. 22.

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HIGHLAND – Vandalia had no match for University of Illinois recruit Katie Roustio as she and O’Fallon had little trouble in defeating the Lady Vandals, 25-16, 25-13, last Friday.

Roustio, a 6-foot-2 senior who verbally committed to play for the Illini when she was a freshman, attacked the ball with more force than any player the team has seen this season, though Vandalia did dig up some of her attacks.

Still, coach Allison Smith thought her team should have performed better in the match.

“I really thought we could have won that game,” she said. “I think we were scared to death of (Roustio), and we let one person beat our whole team.

“If we had put a block on her and not freaked out about her hitting, we’d have been fine.”

Outside of Roustio, O’Fallon was not overpowering, and that showed as the Lady Panthers were never able to score more than four points in a row.

O’Fallon jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Vandalia didn’t let the eventual runners-up dominate, getting three kills in six points to make the score 4-7.

The Lady Panthers did go on a 12-6 run from there, however, before closing out the set.

Even though the second set’s final score ended up being wider than the first, Vandalia stayed close longer than in the first set.

O’Fallon again opened an early lead, going up 3-0, before increasing the lead to 11-4.

The Lady Vandals behind some strong serving from senior RaeChelle Leiken tried to surge back, cutting the lead to 12-9. Included in that stretch were a consecutive kill from sophomore Jessica Sullens, ace from Leiken and block from senior Sierah Ruffner.

But that was followed by two aces and four kills from O’Fallon as part of a 13-4 run that closed out the match.

Friday, Oct. 5
at Highland Tournament
O’Fallon 25, Vandalia 16
O’Fallon 25, Vandalia 13
Kills: Ruffner, 3; Krueger, 3; Leiken, 2; Godoyo, 1; Sullens, 1.
Aces: Leiken, 1; Godoyo, 1.
Assists: McNutt, 7; Sullens, 2; Ruffner, 1.
Blocks: Ruffner, 1 ½; Johanna Walton, ½.

***

HIGHLAND – In the second game last Friday, the Lady Vandals rebounded from a loss in game one to capture a three-set victory against Class 3A Carbondale.

“They, for whatever reason, started to get a few things together,” said coach Allison Smith after the 20-25, 25-23, 15-11 win. “Our big talk in between games was that I have never seen them quit on me, and I thought in the first match, they did.”

Carbondale controlled the game for the entire first set, opening up an 8-2 lead and holding a lead of at least six points until the Lady Vandals used two kills and a block to make up some ground at the end of the set.

Four kills in the first five points of the second set gave Vandalia the early advantage and the Lady Vandals would never lose that lead.

Senior Sierah Ruffner had a kill on each side of an ace by senior Austyn Krueger, and prior to that, Krueger and junior Megan Godoyo each had a kill.

Carbondale would get back within two points, but two more kills from Godoyo around another ace from Krueger helped the Lady Vandals take a 19-11 lead.

The Lady Terriers cut the lead back down to two, before Vandalia went ahead, 24-19. After some tense moments that saw Carbondale get within a point, Krueger killed off the final point.

After a tie at 2-2 in the third set, Vandalia would maintain the lead the rest of the match, with Carbondale never mounting a serious threat.

Krueger, Leiken and Ruffner each had kills in that set, pushing each girl’s total for the game to seven.

Friday, Oct. 5
at Highland Tournament
Carbondale 25, Vandalia 20
Vandalia 25, Carbondale 23
Vandalia 15, Carbondale 11
Kills: Leiken, 7; Krueger, 7; Ruffner, 7; Godoyo, 4.
Aces: Foster, 3; Krueger, 3; Dugan, 1; Godoyo, 1; Leiken, 1; McNutt, 1; Sullens, 1.
Assists: Sullens, 8; McNutt, 7; Leiken, 2; Godoyo, 1.
Blocks: Ruffner, 2; Krueger, 1; Leiken, 1.

***

The Lady Vandals closed tournament play with three games on Saturday, going 1-2 with a win against Wesclin and losses to Highland and eventual champion Breese Central.

Vandalia returns to action on Thursday, hosting Carlyle at 5 p.m.

Senior RaeChelle Leiken led the team in kills in each match, totaling 30 on the day to push her season total just eight short of 200. She is also now one of three Vandalia players with at least 40 aces this season.

In the final game of the tournament, senior Austyn Krueger notched her 150th kill of the season.

Saturday, Oct. 6
at Highland Tournament
Wesclin 25, Vandalia 22
Vandalia 25, Wesclin 11
Vandalia 15, Wesclin 10
Kills: Leiken, 12; Krueger, 7; Ruffner, 6; Foster, 2; Godoyo, 2.
Aces: Krueger, 3; Foster, 1; Godoyo, 1; Leiken, 1.

Saturday, Oct. 6
at Highland Tournament
Vandalia 25, Highland 21
Highland 25, Vandalia 18
Highland 15, Vandalia 8
Kills: Leiken, 10; Godoyo, 4; Ruffner, 4; Krueger, 3; McNutt, 1.
Aces: Dugan, 1; Krueger, 1.

Saturday, Oct. 6
at Highland Tournament
Breese Central 25, Vandalia 10
Vandalia 25, Breese Central 22
Breese Central 15, Vandalia 9
Kills: Leiken, 8; Krueger, 6; Ruffner, 4; Godoyo, 2; Foster, 1; McNutt, 1.
Aces: Leiken, 2; McNutt, 1.

Team standings
•Breese Central
•O’Fallon
•Highland
•Vandalia
•Wesclin
•Carbondale

All-tournament team
•RaeChelle Leiken, Vandalia
•Taylor Rakers, Breese
•Maddie Timmermann, Breese
•Sophia Baltz, Carbondale
•Savannah Sells, Highland
•Nzingha Clarke, O'Fallon
•Katie Roustio, O'Fallon
•Ally Isenhower, Wesclin

Vandalia senior Shelby Foster attacks the ball at the Highland Invitational last Friday. She has helped the Lady Vandals get to 20 wins on the season.

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