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Monday, Sept. 29

'Devils' cast out
LCHS volleyball teams continue to win     Send a link to a friend

By Rick Hobler

[SEPT. 29, 2003]  Exorcisms are not permitted at Lincoln Community High School. An exception to that policy was made on Saturday. But it wasn't easy.

In a rare Saturday match, the Lincoln Lady Railers volleyball squads refused to let the Blue Devils of Quincy High School "possess" a victory at Roy S. Anderson gymnasium. Instead the JV and the varsity squads both won hard-fought two-game matches. The JV won its match by scores of 28-26 and 25-20. The varsity matches stretched to 25-21 and 25-20 before the day was over. The wins keep the JV ladies undefeated and improve the varsity record to 15-2-1 overall.

The varsity victory centered around the consistently excellent serving of Samantha Conrady and Maria Benitez as well as the net dominance of Michelle McFadden. McFadden led the team with 10 kills and three blocks and was virtually unstoppable on the front row. She also led the team with 11 digs, as she was consistently the target of Quincy's serves. Sam was, once again, on a roll from the service line, as she totaled a team-high 11 service points, including two aces. Maria Benitez was not far behind, as she also repeated her excellent performance from the Taylorville match and garnered seven service points. Brooklyn Robbins was, as always, tireless in her setting responsibilities.

In Game 1 the Railers started out quickly, almost gave it away and then came roaring back at the end. After an early 1-1 tie the Railers stayed out in front of the Blue Devils almost the entire game. But, just like in any other sport, being ahead most of the game just isn't that helpful unless you finish. Early game serving and net play by the Railer "towers," Conrady and McFadden, led the home team to be up by a score of 10-5.

The Railers then suffered a mid-game lapse that almost cost them the game. A combination of successful "quick sets" by QHS and some long, misguided missilelike kills that went out for the Railers brought the score to just 18-17 Lincoln. Timeout for discussion, called by coach Howe.

After the timeout the Lincoln ladies responded, but so did Quincy. The two teams traded points, and at 19-21 in favor of QHS, coach Howe requested a further discussion at the Railer bench. Immediately after the second timeout, Quincy shot itself in the foot by serving into the net, bringing the Railers to within a point. Then it was time for a senior to step up -- and she did. Samantha Conrady proceeded to serve out the game with five successive serves, including an ace. A nice block by Kendall Paulus, a beautifully placed long "push" to the back corner by Brooklyn Robbins and two McFadden kills and it was finished.


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Game 2 was a seesaw battle where neither team seemed to be able to shake the other. The QHS strategy seemed to change in Game 2, as they became more aggressive on the net attempting to block the Railer front line. Once the Lady Railers figured that out, some soft dinks over the blocks and some deep pushes to the back row caused Quincy to back off the net. When the Blue Devils backed off, LCHS decided that payback was only fair and began doing some nice blocking of their own. Paulus, McFadden and Conrady all got critical blocks. Two of Conrady's blocks came on Maria Benitez serves and gave the Railers 19 points and 21 points compared with 16 for the Blue Devils. Benitez had six of her service points in Game 2 alone. Mel Boyer and Conrady finished out the Railer serving, and with a McFadden "clear the floor, unless you want to get hurt" kill, the game and the match were in the books.

The Railers seem to be slowly picking up their intensity and consistency as each match goes by. Those are good things. LCHS will need all of both of these traits, as well as some more "from-the-gut passion" as they head into October for the following exciting challenges: four total conference matches that WILL decide the Central State Eight champions, a weekend tournament at Moline and two more road trips to the less-than-friendly confines of Normal Community High School and Jacksonville High School.

This is the time period where we separate the women from the girls, champions from the "also rans." It's the home stretch to the postseason. For each match, each game, each point -- bring it all to the floor and leave it all there. It's the stuff great memories are made of.


[Rick Hobler]

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