I don't usually write articles for out-of-town volleyball matches. I
don't usually write about two matches at once. But something tells
me that this is not going to be a usual volleyball season for the
Lincoln Lady Railers. So, I'll write and I'll give you some examples
of "unusual" in a moment.
This week the Lady Railers traveled
twice to the towns that have proclaimed themselves to be central
Illinois' volleyball capital. And while the few hairs I have left on
the back of my head bristle at such a self-designation, Bloomington
and Normal (especially Normal Community) certainly have had the
Railers' "number" over the years. Maybe they are right -- but you
would never catch me acknowledging it, not even with my last dying
On Tuesday and Thursday, the Lady Railers headed to Bloomington
High School and then Normal West High School to disprove the
Bloomington-Normal theory. They were partially successful. The
Railers, I thought, played well in both matches. They even played
better overall perhaps in their loss than they did in their victory.
At BHS on Tuesday night, I observed some previously unseen "fire"
in the Lady Railers. For instance, Natalie Boward played as well as
I have seen her play this senior year. She blocked everything in
reach of her, including, by my count, three successive blocks on one
play against BHS' star player Kristin Petrinec. Ashley Bonaparte did
a great job at the service line especially and also in her co-setter
On the negative side of the coin, though, the Railers were weak
on their initial serve-receive passes, especially when Bloomington's
excellent server Lisa Bogle was at the line. My play-by-play notes
also showed that the other thing that killed Lincoln's hopes of
winning was, on at least five occasions during the match, that
immediately after a great Lincoln point, the very next Lincoln serve
was in the net or out of bounds.
Overall though, I thought the Railers looked much better, much
more inspired and, well… much more like the Lincoln Railers, even
though the end result was a BHS victory.
The Thursday night trip to "mecca" was expected to be a lesser
challenge as a young Normal West team took on the more experienced
Game one was a game of "thirds." It was close at the start, and
then the Railers pulled away during the midpoint of the game. Normal
mounted a comeback attempt in the final third of the game, but the
Railers held on for a 25-21 win.
I thought Chrissy Schonauer was the difference-maker in game one,
where she collected all four of her kills for the night. During the
Railers' midgame run, on three successive plays Chrissy received
some excellently chosen sets from Ashley Bonaparte and finished for
Railer points. Lincoln was up 16-10 after the third Schonauer kill.
Quite appropriately Chrissy was the one to put an end to the game
with her fourth kill.
Ashley Myrick did an excellent job of serving in the first game,
as did Natalie Boward. Kate Schonauer also had a good match at the
In game two the Railers had to come from behind to secure the
victory. For the first part of the game the Railers were on
"overkill" mode and Normal was not going down without a fight on its
home court. Throughout the game, for whatever reason you want to
attribute it to, the Railer net players were knocking ball after
ball into the net during kill attempts. Coach Howe had a little
discussion with the front line and the setter when the score stood
at 6-11 in favor of Normal. After the timeout, the Railer
serve-receive defense collapsed for a few plays and the score was
[to top of second column]
The Railers began their comeback largely on the strength of the
front-row play of Jamie McFadden and the nice serving of Molly
Goodrich. With the score at 12-16 in favor of Normal, the next four
Lincoln points came on McFadden kills, one of which sent the entire
West back row running for cover. Normal was then unable to handle
six successive serves (say that five times real fast) from Molly
Goodrich, and Lincoln was finally up 19-18. The remainder of the
game was a series of mistakes by the Wildcats where ball after ball
was hit into the net or long. Abbie Feldman, who had a really nice
match overall, put an end to Normal's night with a kill to put the
final score at 25-20.
So, overall the week was a draw from a
win-loss perspective but a win overall for improvement and effort by
the Railer ladies.
But it was still unusual. I promised some examples. For instance,
usually the Lady Railers have one or two dominant players on the
court. This year, it appears, so far, they will have a varied
combination of players who will rotate in and out and who will be
effective to varying degrees on different nights. For instance,
usually the Lady Railers have one, maybe two, highly emotional floor
leaders to whom the team is always looking to direct the Railer
attack. This year, so far, no one person has yet assumed that role.
Usually I sense a strong spirit of "team"; so far this year, I just
haven't. For instance… well, that's enough for now. Let's see how
the season progresses. It's unusual… or maybe the team IS its usual
self and I'm just the unusual one. I never want to overlook that as
The varsity will travel to St. Francis Borgia High School in
Missouri on Friday (today) to play in a tough weekend tournament,
where the Lady Railers will look to avenge some summer tournament
losses suffered at Rolla, Mo. All of the Railer teams will return
home to play Urbana on Sept. 14. GO, RAILERS!!
Junior varsity has a tough week
The younger Lady Railers had a double-loss week, falling to 2-2
overall with losses to both Bloomington and Normal West. Unforced
errors at the service line and numerous net violation calls doomed
an otherwise well-played match against BHS. The JV fell in two games
by a score of 20-25, 23-25.
Emily Berglin and Amy Kelly had good matches, combining for 15
assists while setting and a total of 10 service points. Hilary
Hobler had a team-high seven kills. Laura Aughenbaugh played well at
the net in both blocking and hitting.
In the Thursday night match against the Wildcats from Normal
West, the Railers looked unbeatable in game one (25-16), played a
close game two (21-25) and shot themselves in the foot in game three
For the Lady Railers, Emily Sheley had five kills and eight
service points. Amy Kelley had nine service points and 13 assists.
Laura Aughenbaugh had four blocks. Hilary Hobler had seven service
points and three kills. Emily Berglin and Hannah Sheley each had
five kills. The Railer libero, Hannah McShane, had a team-high 11
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