On the other hand, they couldn't have
asked for a worse result.
homecoming activities running full speed, a capacity crowd larger
than I have ever seen for a Lady Railer home volleyball match, and
two great volleyball teams to play the match, the atmosphere at LCHS
last night was almost perfect. The result, however, for the Lady
Railers, was certainly far from perfect.
I have been in gymnasiums before
when these two great volleyball programs met, and sometimes the
Railers have left the floor embarrassed. Last night was NOT one of
those nights. In a tough match, decided somewhat by small errors at
crucial times, the Lady Railers went "toe to toe" with the Ironmen
of Normal Community. In the end though, one team left disappointed,
but no team left lacking respect for the other. The Railers were
ultimately defeated by a tough Normal Community team by a match
score of 23-25, 17-25.
The action was fast and furious
throughout game one, with each team bringing out all of their
volleyball weapons. A fair match summary would be that the Railers
brought out their hitting arsenal and the Ironmen brought out their
blocking arsenal, and on this night, the blockers prevailed.
Game one started out well enough for
the Railers as they quickly built a 5-1 lead and then a 9-5 lead
over NCHS. Timeout NCHS.
Whatever the Ironmen coach said
during the timeout was taken to heart by her players, and the Railer
lead soon evaporated with the score tied at 12-12. The teams fought
back and forth with no more than a two-point spread between them
until a Normal block sent the score to 20-17 in favor of the
visitors. Two Ironmen miscues brought the score to 19-20 and a Megan
Hoffert "ballistic missile" tied the score at 20-20. A critical
Railer missed serve once again put the Ironmen up 22-21, but once
again Megan Hoffert brought the Railers back even with another nice
kill. With Michelle Fitzpatrick serving, the Railers went up by one
at 23-22, but that would be the end for the Railer scoring. Three
successive points by Normal, primarily from their senior outside
hitter, Bre Leisner, ended game one at 25-23.
The game one loss seemed to take its
toll on the Railers and they never seemed able to fully recover in
game two. But the Railers' inability to win the second game doesn't
mean they didn't give it their all trying.
Initially they dug a large hole for
themselves… a very large hole. Down 0-3, then 2-6, then 3-12, the
Railers looked like they were going to get blown out. Not so,
courtesy of the front-line play of Megan Hoffert, Erin Frick and
Michi McFadden and the serving of Michelle Fitzpatrick. The Railers
showed their heart as they battled back to 7-13, and then with three
successive Hoffert kills followed by a Michi McFadden kill the score
stood at 12-16. Timeout NCHS.
[to top of second column in
Upon returning to the floor, Normal
put a virtually impenetrable blocking wall that lasted until match
point. Hit after powerful hit by the Railers seemed to bounce right
back at the Railers after front-line Ironmen blocks rejected them.
In the end the blocking prevailed over the powerful hitting and so
did Normal by a score of 25-17.
Overall, I thought Megan Hoffert had
her best match of the season, and her statistics bear out that
observation. Megan had a team-high eight kills, combined with three
blocks, and she seemed to be able to get through the Normal blocks
all night. Michi McFadden also had eight kills and eight crucial
digs as she came all the way from the back line many times to dig up
short serves from Normal that otherwise would have been aces. When
Michi wasn't digging out tough Ironmen hits, Brooklyn Robbins was,
and she ended the match with six digs. Michelle Fitzpatrick was the
most effective Railer server as she came away with six service
points. The rest of the Railer blocking was carried out by Erin
Frick. Brooklyn was, as always, tireless in her setting
But all of that wasn't enough last
night. "Little" Railer errors like long or short serves, some poor
first passes, and a repeated failure to recognize and adjust to the
defensive blocking become "big" when you play an equally tough and
talented team like Normal.
Last night the Ironmen made fewer
errors and as a result won the match.
Last night, NCHS played a better
match. Maybe another postseason night will bring a different result.
Time will tell.
I have one final cause for concern.
It seems to me that the Railers are playing with a great deal of
heart, while under the pressures of high expectations, but they
aren't having much fun. I hope the Lady Railers will return to
having some FUN (how about a good pre-game round of
duck-duck-goose?), while they courageously play out and win the rest
of their regular-season matches.
And with Jacksonville coming to town
next week, all I will say, as always, is…
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