In a closely contested match, the Lady
Railers varsity defeated SH-G by scores of 25-23 and 25-22 to stay
undefeated in Central State Eight match play. The varsity record now
stands at 17-2-1. The junior varsity, bouncing back after their
first loss of the season at Chatham on Tuesday, defeated their SH-G
counterparts by a match score of 27-25 and 25-12.
And while the Railers won, they had one
major problem all night. Her SH-G number was 14 and her name was Jen
Foster. The Railers had two solutions for her talented play. First,
get her to the back row as quickly as possible and keep her there as
long as possible. Second solution, have more than just one weapon.
The Lady Railers' multiple weapons came in standard form and in
improved form. The solutions worked.
In Game 1, LCHS showed its increasing
maturity as it refused to go down to defeat. At one point LCHS was
down 17-22, and it looked like it was going to be a long night for
the home team. Lincoln started out slowly and found itself down 1-4.
Julie Fults and Michelle McFadden got the Railers back on track with
some strong net play, while Samantha Conrady continued her
consistently good serving at the back line. The Railers had climbed
back in to hold a 10-9 advantage. But once again, the play of SH-G's
Jen Foster resulted in the Railers being down 13-15, and coach Howe
called for a timeout. Julie Fults responded on the very next
exchange with a kill to bring her team back to within one. Then SH-G
went back on a roll and the deficit grew to 15-21 in favor of SH-G.
Coach Howe let her team stay on the floor to figure it out together.
But when the score reached 20-23 SH-G,
it looked like it was too late for the Railers. Not so, said the
home team. Not so, said Katie Green. As Katie rotated to the service
line she proceeded to knock down five straight service points to put
out the Blazers' flame for good. Michelle McFadden and Megan Hoffert
stepped it up at the net, and the Railers came out with a 25-23 win
in round one.
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LCHS never trailed in Game 2, but that
doesn't mean it wasn't close. Close as defined by eight ties
throughout the game and a late run by SH-G to bring the score to
22-20 and 23-22. The game was tied at two, three, four, eight, nine,
12, 14 and 15, at which point apparently Kendall Paulus had had
enough. I heard this usually quiet Railer outside and middle hitter
actually calling for the ball -- and setter Brooklyn Robbins giving
it to her. Paulus then gave it to SH-G with authority! Paulus had
three great kills at this midgame point, which turned a tie game
into a 20-15 Railer lead. While Kendall was dominating the net,
Maria Benitez was doing the same at the back stripe. Six successive
serves, including an ace, during this midpoint push put the Railers
up 20-16. It was the game difference.
But SH-G wasn't about to pack it in
yet. When SH-G's Jen Foster stepped to the service line and hit an
ace past the Railer defense, the score was 22-20. Then SH-G shot
itself in the foot. At 23-22 the SH-G server hit the serve into the
net and the Railers were almost home. After a Robbins serve, SH-G
finished itself off with an attempted kill into the net, giving the
Lady Railers the last point they needed to secure their homecoming
I thought the Lady Railers put together
one of their first truly ALL-team efforts last night. Railer fans
have come to expect consistent performances at the net by the likes
of McFadden (nine kills), Conrady and Hoffert, and they provided
those last night as usual. But it was the net play of the home
team's "other weapons" Julie Fults and Kendall Paulus which, I
thought, was noticeably improved and ultimately the winning
difference in a tight match. Julie's net play in Game 1 and
Kendall's net play in Game 2 were repeatedly noticeable, especially
at crucial points in each game. And while these ladies have somewhat
quietly played well all year, I thought this was a breakout match
for both of them. At the service line, the Railers continue to get
excellent and consistent serving from Katie Green, Maria Benitez,
Samantha Conrady and Michelle McFadden (three aces). A team couldn't
ask for a better setter than Brooklyn Robbins (25 assists).
So far, so good. Seventeen wins.
Undefeated in the conference. It's a great start! How will the Lady
Railers finish? That's up to the entire team, and it will take the
entire team. Just like last night.
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