ST. ELMO – Sarah Maxey has reinvented herself as a player, and the early results are extremely promising for St. Elmo/Brownstown.
The junior setter had 12 assists and four service aces in last Thursday’s season-opening 17-25, 26-24, 25-20 win against Vandalia, moving fluidly across the court to set passes and committing just three errors in the match.
“She’s still working on her confidence and decision-making, but she has worked so hard to be in this spot,” said coach Elise Asher. “She makes a difference when things are going right, because she gets the ball to the person who needs it.”
Maxey, who worked as part of a setting committee last season, left the school’s softball team last spring to focus on club volleyball, and that commitment showed in the opener, as she sparked a rally late in the second set and used an ace to help establish SEB’s leads early in the second and third sets.
Improved serving in the last two sets, combined with numerous passing and hitting errors by Vandalia, allowed the Lady Eagles to come back from a tough start.
SEB was slow in the beginning, with Vandalia using a 5-0 run to take an 8-2 lead and a 6-0 run later to take a 20-11 advantage.
“The first set never really goes as you plan it out, but tonight was a good display of our conditioning,” Asher said. “The (starting) lineup we had been working on – it wasn’t that anybody was doing anything wrong – but it just wasn’t fluid.
“I felt like we played more as a team in the second and third set.”
Maxey served an ace on the third point of the second set, and the Lady Eagles (1-0) added six more in the set, though Vandalia did rally from two different seven-point deficits to nearly win the match.
Senior Madison Click served six straight points with the Lady Vandals trailing 22-16, but a service error and an attack error at the end of the set gave St. Elmo the 26-24 win.
Click served a team-high three aces for Vandalia (0-1), and coach Allison Hall called her the team’s “player of the game.”
“Madison did a fantastic job on offense and defense tonight,” Hall said. “She had a lot of nice digs and some great serves, and she didn’t even practice that, because I had her setting for the JV team.”
Vandalia scored the first point of the third set, but SEB played consistently to take a 17-8 lead.
The Lady Vandals would use an 8-0 run to rally back to a one-point deficit, but Hall said too many errors made the margin too wide to overcome.
“It was error after error, and we couldn’t get over it,” Hall said. “We have to get to the point where if we make an error, we say “It’s OK. It’s over with,’ and go from there.
“Mental toughness is where we need to go to (in those situations).”
Vandalia senior Kadi Metzger had a game-high seven kills, and SEB’s balanced attack was led by juniors Emily Bone and Gabi Moore, who each had six kills.
Bone added a match-high five service aces, and Vandalia senior Jessica Sullens had 14 assists to pace the game.
The Lady Vandals had the lone block, coming from sophomore Madison Klanke.
Thursday, Aug. 28
Vandalia 25, SEB 17
SEB 26, Vandalia 24
SEB 25, Vandalia 20
Kills: Bone, 6; Moore, 6; Elissa Baron, 3; Katie Kroll, 3; Erica Behl, 2; Brandi Howard, 2.
Aces: Bone, 5; Maxey, 4; Behl, 2; Moore, 2; Howard, 1.
Assists: Maxey, 12; Behl, 3; Elizabeth Guerrero, 1; Kroll, 1; Moore, 1.
Kills: Metzger, 7; Ally Sasse, 5; Jalea Pasley, 3; Klanke, 2; Katie Tarkington, 1.
Aces: Click, 3; Sullens, 2; Gracie Morrison, 1; Sasse, 1.
Assists: Sullens, 14; Metzger, 2; Klanke, 1.
Block: Klanke, 1.