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Friday, Oct. 22

Lady Railers serve up number 30

Railers end regular season 30-5; 6-1 in conference play

By Rick Hobler       Send a link to a friend       

[OCT. 22, 2004]  It's not over until it's over.

Senior Night, for many teams, means it's almost over. Not for the Lincoln Lady Railers. Not this year.

Last night the Railers first and foremost gave honor to whom honor is due: Michi McFadden, Mel Boyer, Brooklyn Robbins, Maria Benitez, Robin Conklen, Katie Green, Megan Hoffert, Julie Fults and Kendall Paulus. Senior Night, always a bittersweet moment, was more sweet than bitter last night as the Railers honored their senior teammates and easily ended their fantastic regular season with a win over the Senators of Springfield High School. The win brought their season total to 30, and, due to a Sacred Heart win over Jacksonville last night, placed the Railers in second place in the CS8 conference standings at 6-1.

And as soon as the regular season ended, the postseason began. This year it begins right here in Lincoln. The Railers hope to see it end with wins at Redbird Arena.

But first things first. The Lady Railers made short work of Springfield High School last night, primarily on the exceptional serving of its starters. In game one Michelle Fitzpatrick started it and senior Brooklyn Robbins ended it. Michelle began the serving extravaganza with eight successive points, putting the Railers up 9-1 before she rotated over. At 18-9 Brooklyn took over from the back line and powered seven serves, including five aces and two "as close as you can get to an ace" serves to end the game at 25-9.

The Railer servers continued their dominance in game two as once again Michelle Fitzpatrick ran off five in a row, to put the Railers ahead 7-2. Not to be left out, senior "mighty" Mel Boyer came up next to add three of her own service points. Senior Maria Benitez got another to make it 16-7 in favor of the Railers, and Robbins came back to get another two aces to bring the score to 20-11. And, in the spirit of sharing, the seniors allowed one other underclassman, Katie Conklen, to help finish off the Senators at 25-15.

All totaled, Fitzpatrick left the floor last night with 14 service points and Robbins had 10 with seven aces. Not a bad night's work.

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The front-line story for Lincoln last night was primarily about Erin Frick and senior Julie Fults. Erin finished the match with 10 kills and five blocks. Erin dominated both the Railer middle and outside hitting areas. This is the kind of strong performance that the Railers will need to have from Erin all through the postseason. Julie added another five nicely placed kills as the Railers dominated the net all night.

As always there were the usual Senior Night "surprises": Two Railer seniors had to sit out with minor injuries, resting up in hopes of being stronger for the postseason and causing Lincoln's coach Howe to have to come up with "creative" lineup changes. Julie Fults, one of the exceptional senior front-line hitters, decided she wanted to be a setter about halfway through game two… and did a fine job at it. Brooklyn Robbins got a kill or two of her own, instead of just setting up others to do the honors. All good, typical Senior Night fun.

But the fun turns into hard work and intensity today.

For the Railers, only the first part of their season is over. And while it was a successful first part, it was only the warm-up for the second season, the postseason. That second season begins next Wednesday at LCHS as the Railers make a run at a state volleyball title. The road to Redbird is tough, but doable. Carrying the No. 1 seed in their sectional complex will mean the Railers will have a target on their back all the way to Normal. They start "the trip" by staying home to face Decatur Eisenhower next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The late game that night will place eighth-seeded Mahomet-Seymour against 10th-seeded Decatur MacArthur. The winners on Wednesday will play for the regional title on Saturday, the 30th, at 7 p.m. And that's just the beginning of the drama.

In order to get to Redbird, the Lady Railers, especially the seniors, will literally have to play every game like it might be their last. It's time to step up, ladies. It's not over until you say it's over.


[Rick Hobler]

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