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Lady Railers easily win regional opener

By Rick Hobler

[OCT. 28, 2004]  Easy.

Perhaps too easy, would be a fair description of last night's IHSA Class AA regional semifinal match between the Lady Railers and the Panthers from Decatur Eisenhower. After a long delay, due to the Panthers getting lost finding the LCHS gym, Lincoln rather quickly dispatched the Panthers by a match score of 25-15, 25-9.

It was the beginning of what the Railers hope will be a total of eight victories in a row during this postseason run. I doubt any other match from here on out will be quite so simple.

In game one the Railers gave too many points away and then finally put the Panthers away. After too much adrenaline caused the first two Railer kills to go out of bounds, the Railers settled down and began to build their lead to 13-6, mostly on the serving of Michelle Fitzpatrick with help from Michi McFadden and Mel Boyer. The Railer front line took turns finishing points as McFadden, Boward, Fults, Frick and especially Megan Hoffert all put the ball down on the Panthers' side of the court. Hoffert also made one kill "supper" for one of the Panthers. Several Railer mistakes and a few Panther kills characterized the rest of the game. Game one seemed to be being played in slow motion throughout. Eventually the Panthers decided to end it by hitting a kill long for the game's final point.

In the second game of the match it was the serving of Maria Benitez and Michelle Fitzpatrick that ran the table for the Railers. By my count, Maria had the first nine service points to begin the game and also got the last four service points. When Maria decided to let up for a moment, Michelle Fitzpatrick decided, once again, to take the ball. When Michelle handed the ball over, the score stood at 17-3 in favor of the Railers. Megan Hoffert did the majority of the net work for the rest of game two. The Railers finished the night by winning game two by the lopsided score of 25-9.

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For the night, my stats had Maria Benitez with 14 service points and Michelle Fitzpatrick close behind with 11. Michelle had three aces and Maria added two aces of her own. Katie Green and Fitzpatrick did a great job on defense as they dug out 13 balls that otherwise would have hit the Railer side of the floor. Michi McFadden led the team in kills with seven, and Megan Hoffert added six kills of her own and two blocks. As always, Brooklyn Robbins did a great job of running the offense as she totaled 20 assists in setting up the Railer hitters.

The Railers next move on to play in the regional championship match on Saturday night at 7 against the spirited Decatur MacArthur Lady Generals. The Lady Generals defeated Mahomet-Seymour in last night's second match by the score of 25-13, 25-18. The Lady Generals got good overall play from Julie Haskel, especially at the service line, and good net play from 6-foot middle hitter Abby Andrick. The Lady Generals' setter, Michelle Calvert, also had several successful soft tips over the top of Mahomet blockers and into the open court.

Nothing will be easy from here on out. One at a time. GO, RAILERS!

[Rick Hobler]

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