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Friday, Oct. 11

Super rematch with not-so-super results

By Rick Hobler

[OCT. 11, 2002]  What do you get when you add 19-2 to 21-1? One. As in one terrific volleyball match, with a not-so-great ending.

Last night, the Lincoln Lady Railers volleyball squad (19-2) faced their longtime nemesis and rival Normal Community (21-1) in a rematch of last year’s IHSA super-sectional match at East Peoria. The Railers’ memories were clear. The sting of last year’s loss was still fresh. As usual, the emotion was electric. As usual, more fans than ever showed up for both sides. As usual, both teams battled to the very last point. And, unfortunately, as usual, Normal Community won.

The final count — Lady Railers lose 8-15, 14-16. But it was not without a fight.

In game one, the Railers quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead as the adrenaline was flowing freely on both sides of the floor. But slowly and methodically thereafter, the much taller overall Normal Community Ironmen began to wear down the home team. Normal had a six-point service run that left the score 3-6, and they never looked back from there. The serving and setting of Normal’s Megan Trimpe was excellent, while sophomore Breanna Leisner and senior Stephanie Roof seemed to always be above the net to finish the matter. The Railers went down hard, but down they went.

Game two was a different matter. A determined Railer team, with some good noise from their fans, both high school-aged and older, came out swinging for round two. When the score reached 6-1 Lincoln, then 12-8 and even at 14-12, I was confident that we were in for a three-game contest. But it was not to be. On the initial stellar serving of Kari McFadden, which included three aces, the Lady Railers were rolling and led 6-1. Toward the end it was the same kind of great serving from Samantha Conrady that got the Railers to 14 and almost sent the match to game three. But the great serving could get us only to 14, never 15.


The middle of the match was a dogfight, with each team going all out to keep the ball off their own side of the floor. The Railers had some great kills by Samantha Conrady and Michelle McFadden, some great blocks by Brooklyn Robbins and others, and there was no lack of effort on defense. Missy Aper played very smart by not challenging the tall Normal blockers but instead gently dinking it over their outstretched finger tips for Railer points. Christina Xamis and Maria Benitez spent a great deal of time diving across the floor to keep the Railers alive.

But, in this second game of the match, it seemed like LCHS was unable to get blockers in place to stop the Normal quick sets. Give the ball to Normal’s Stephanie Roof about a foot above the net, and everyone on the other side better clear out. Several crucial kills and the final two Normal points belonged to Roof, at the net, pounding the ball to the floor. When the Lady Railers got to 14, they couldn’t finish Normal off, and Normal came back to get the next four points for the game and the match.


[to top of second column in this article]

The Railer stats looked like this:

•  Service points — Kari McFadden with seven points, including four aces; Samantha Conrady with five points, four aces; and Christina Xamis came through with five service points of her own.

•  Digs — Christina Xamis and Missy Aper with nine each and Samantha Conrady with eight.

•  Assists — Brooklyn Robbins with 14.

•  Kills — Five each for Missy Aper and Michelle McFadden and three each for Brooklyn Robbins and Kari McFadden.

•  Blocks — Brooklyn Robbins with three and the McFadden duo with two each.

The Railers hurt themselves several times throughout the match with first serves going either into the net or long at the backcourt. The Railers also never figured out a way to stop the Normal quick sets. But everywhere else the Railers showed their toughness. The Railers were diving and digging as evidenced by the large number of total digs that show up on the stat sheet and the floor burns of our ladies. They had some pretty blocks and some nicely placed tips — but in the end Normal Community was just better (you know it pains me to write that)… at least for last night (now I feel a little better).

I hate to lose. So do the Lady Railers. Some areas that need improvement showed themselves last night. And, as coach Howe put it after the game, "Better to find out now, than in the postseason." Agreed. I have the feeling the Railers will be working their way back to a return visit with Normal Community somewhere along that postseason road. Having learned a lesson tonight, maybe we can teach one later on.

The junior varsity team won a hard fought three-game match last night against Normal Community. After winning the first game on a great initial start, the Railers dropped game two in a seesaw battle. In game three, Melanie Boyer had a great early service run. Exceptional net play from Kendal Paulus, Julie Fults and Megan Hoffert helped the Railers pull out the game 15-13 to win the match.

The Lady Railers depart today for a grueling 20-team weekend tournament at St. Charles East in the Chicago area. Once they return, they will have one thing on their mind: a conference victory over Jacksonville at home on Tuesday night. A win over Jacksonville would put the Railers in the driver’s seat for the CS-8 title, with only two conference foes to face thereafter. Tuesday will again be required attendance for all Railer fans, especially those fond of making noise.


[Rick Hobler]

High school volleyball

[OCT. 11, 2002] 

At Stanford

Central Catholic def. Olympia 15-2, 15-7.

Olympia:  Service points, Kristin Goebel 4; Kills, Goebel 3; Blocks, Stacia Prater 2; Assists, Jaime Ahlers 25

Record:  Olympia 16-9 overall, 3-3 in conference

Junior Varsity:  Olympia def. Central Catholic 15-8, 15-11.

Freshmen:  Olympia def. Central Catholic, 2-0.

High school cross country

[OCT. 11, 2002] 

At Mason City - 3 miles

Illini Central 18, Lincoln 43

1. Derek Hunter (IC) 16:55; 2. Phil Sims (IC); 3. Alejandro Valdes (L); 4. Clint Wells (IC); 5. Jared McDaniel (IC).

Articles from the past week


  • High school golf

  • LC men’s soccer vs. Lincoln Land

  • LC volleyball vs. Lincoln Land


  • Lady Railers win again and prepare for showdowns

  • High school volleyball

  • High school golf


  • ‘Monday Night Football’:  A total blast... other than the score

  • 2002-03 Illini basketball unveiled at midnight event

  • High school volleyball


  • Mayfield’s Mutterings...:  I was wrong

  • Carroll Catholic junior high baseball

  • Lincoln splits doubleheader in Champaign

  • High school cross country

  • High school football

  • High school golf

  • High school volleyball


  • Men's soccer: LC loses to Tyler
  • High school football


  • Lady Railers defeat Sacred Heart

  • High school volleyball

  • High school golf

  • High school soccer

  • High school swimming

  • Lynx defeat Greenville JV and Black Hawk East

‘Monday Night Football’:
A total blast... other than the score

By Jeff Mayfield

[OCT. 8, 2002]  It was a wild, wild atmosphere last night in Champaign for the football game matching the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Perhaps the Bears got too much caught up in it, as they looked overmatched throughout most of the night and fell 34-21.

[Click here for more photos]

[Photos by Greg Taylor]

They will need to fix many broken aspects of their game IF they intend to get back into the playoff hunt. Right now I would have to label their play very disappointing at best. Maybe the aura of the Illini is hovering over the stadium too much at this juncture, but they sure missed an opportunity — with a national spotlight cast on this game — to show what they could be, and they remained as predictable as you could imagine. I’m not paid by any NFL team to scout or analyze, but if a nut like me can tell you what play or defensive call is coming up next, YOU are with an NFL team that is in some serious trouble.

While the Bears do have games with Detroit and Minnesota looming on the horizon after a bye week, a split right now sounds better than some alternatives. However, there IS STILL time to right the ship. IF they could get back on track and win both, then you never know where that might take them. Getting away from ultraconservative play-calling would be one step in the right direction. More aggressive defense, complete with many more blitzes, would also be something that ought to at least be tried. It’s hard for NFL QBs to throw TD passes while lying on their backs!



[to top of second column in this article]

I know that my many Bear-fan friends would like to see an IMMEDIATE turnaround, and I hope that happens for their sake… The prospects of that just don’t look all that strong to this onlooker at this point.


Breaking news...

While Illini football has faded since opening day, Brian Cook and his cast of Illini basketball hoopsters are going through the paces, readying themselves for action so that they don’t repeat the football team’s showing thus far. LDN staffers were on hand to watch some NCAA-approved 3-on-3 drills, and Cook was right in the middle of the action, teaching newcomers Augustino, Spears, Williams and others what it will take to get the job done in rugged Big Ten play. It is exciting and gratifying watching him help the younger Illini recruits! Brian has worked hard throughout his career and deserves good things to happen for him. I hope he stays healthy and has a banner season.

Whatever happens, Brian, thanks for the wonderful memories you’ve given us, and thanks for representing your family and Lincoln so well over the last three years. We are all so proud of you! Good luck, and as always, GO ILLINI.

For you really big fans... Midnight Madness is set for this Friday night at Huff Hall Gym. Admission is FREE and doors open at 10 p.m.!!! [See announcement.]

[Jeff Mayfield]

I was wrong

By Jeff Mayfield

[OCT. 7, 2002]  And I’ve heard that some men have trouble uttering those words. Since I’m wrong more often than not, these are not the most difficult for me. When I say that I was wrong… well, I was the guy who predicted the Arizona Diamondbacks in four!

However, I don’t pick for a living… obviously! I had been on such a big roll for the last two years, but I still wasn’t thinking of quitting my day job. I just felt like the St. Louis Cardinals needed home field advantage to be successful this year… with the starting staff as beaten up as it is and having to face not one, but two Cy Young candidates in the persons of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.

Little did I know that Matt Morris and Chuck Finley would do their own imitations of the dynamic duo. Little did I know that Andy Benes would continue to pitch like he did when he was a kid. Little did I know that our bullpen would bring back memories of Whitey’s pen: Todd Worrell, Ken Dayley, Rick Horton, Pat Perry, Jeff Lahti and Bill Campbell. That Fernando Vina would just onload his many offensive weapons. That we wouldn’t have to face Curt and Randy more than once. I was just plain out and out wrong!

BUT, I couldn’t be happier. When I was young I discovered the many superstitions involved in the game of baseball, and I used many of them during my playing and coaching days. With that being said… I’m staying with my prediction that, whoever the Cards play, the Braves or the Giants will whip St. Louis in four games. I sure hope I’m wrong for at least two more series!

Other Redbirds on a roll

Led by the stellar running of halfback Quincy Washington and the excellent receiving of Dwayne Smith and Vito Goulson, the ISU Redbirds hammered the SMSU Bears 33-20 on homecoming Saturday, and the game was NOT that close! Washington romped for 167 yards on a gutsy 33 carries and he tallied two touchdowns. Vito had his catches, but teammate Smith came down with five receptions for 64 yards and a TD of his own. Not to be outdone, the Redbird defense pounded the Bears time after time for big losses, especially on third down situations. I hope the Illini scouts are attending these games! ISU is now 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in Gateway Conference play, while the Bears slipped to 3-3 and 0-2.

My son was also impressed with paratroopers who dropped in from a helicopter from 4,000 feet above Hancock stadium and just happened to bring the game ball with them. He also REALLY likes the ISU band and of course, REGGIE Redbird, whom he got to meet just before kickoff!

ISU faces a stiff test next time out as they try to handle a very solid Western Illinois football team.

And speaking of the Illini, did they play football somewhere? Did you see the effort or lack thereof the last few weeks? It is hard to watch and even harder to cover. I think I speak for the whole platoon when I say that we’re giving that same kind of effort here in our coverage. Enough said!

Railers REALLY good

I think some people thought we were just being a "homer" when we said that the RAILER volleyball team looked to have all the "makings" during the preseason. Well, that’s our story and we’re stickin’ with it! After polishing off this week’s victims, the Lady Railers now stand at 17-2, 2-0. IF they stay healthy and focused, you might want to ride this bandwagon. I see good things for this team… as well as for Hartem, Mount Pulaski and Warrensburg. What is it about this area that we produce so many outstanding volleyball players?


[to top of second column in this article]

The LCHS football guys had some tough sledding against SHG. But with as many injuries as this team has had, it’s hard to produce wins when you’re short-handed. I’m still hoping for another win or two out of these guys!

Speaking of volleyball…

LCC’s volleyball team has been dominating their competition. They ripped through another set of opponents this past weekend to win yet another tournament and upped their record to 23-3 in the process. They ARE the No. 1-ranked team in the nation according to the latest NCCAA poll! Breanne Prunty was named the tourney’s MVP, and Christen O’Malley and Bethany Scheel were selected to the all-tourney team.

More wrong predictions…

After having a two-year run of luck, I haven’t picked one baseball winner yet. I had the D’backs, the Yankees and the A’s… I wonder IF this is why my stock portfolio is struggling… IF you’re a broker out there, give me a call before it’s too late!!!

Carroll baseball

The Carroll Catholic junior high baseball team lost a heartbreaking 2-1 thriller versus Princeville this past weekend.  It was the only loss the Crusaders suffered the entire season.  Congratulations on a fine year! 

"FANdamonium" LIVE from Champaign-Urbana tonight…

So, that will probably make it nigh to impossible for you to call in tonight with your question, comment or answer to our wacky trivia questions! Anyway, we hope to bring you the sights, the sounds, the smells (well, maybe NOT all the smells) and the stuff to make your pre-"Monday Night Football" routine more exciting than ever! We will be coming to you live on the LDN webcast, WFIX-96.3 FM and CITV Channel 5 here on the local cable affiliate. We will be broadcasting from the Christian Campus House on the corner of Oregon and Lincoln Avenue in Urbana. SO, if you get to the game early, come on by and help us host the show! We hope this is one of the funnest events of the year!

Have a great week, everybody!!!

[Jeff Mayfield]




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