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What does the new year hold for this volleyball team?

By Rick Hobler

[AUG. 25, 2005]  As the summer volleyball season comes to an end and the fall regular season begins, one major question must be asked of the Lincoln Lady Railers volleyball team: After losing last year's talented senior class, will the Lady Railers need to rebuild this year or will they instead just reload?

If the summer season is any indication of what might happen, then it appears that the Railers are not looking to rebuild… they are already reloading.

Lady Railers varsity team

[click here for more Lady Railers pictures]

The Lincoln Lady Railers' summer season is over. But what a summer it was! The summer season culminated in a stellar performance by all three Lady Railer teams at the 191 team multistate tournament in Rolla, Mo., at the end of July. The Lady Railers entered three teams in the huge field, and each Lady Railer team won first place in its bracket! At the varsity level, the Lady Railers went undefeated and won the final match against a talented team from Fatima, Mo., by a final match score of 25-12 and 25-15. The Lincoln junior varsity squad, not to be outdone, also won its bracket with a final match win over Nettleton, Mo., 25-15, 25-23. The Lady Railers' youngest team pulled out a hard-fought victory in its bracket over Lebanon, Mo., 19-25, 25-18, 15-13.

In addition to the team victories, and for the second year in a row, the tournament's most valuable player honors went to a Lady Railer. This year's MVP was LCHS senior Michelle Fitzpatrick. Michelle repeats the honor that was awarded last year to Lincoln's Brooklyn Robbins. Joining Michelle with all-tournament first-team honors was Lincoln's senior middle blocker Erin Frick. Both Michelle and Erin will be at the heart of a strong Lady Railer team that begins its 2005 high school season next week.

The Lady Railers will have no time to sit back and relish their summer success, since their first four matches will present tough challenges for them. The season begins next Tuesday night at Peoria Richwoods High School. The Railers then travel to Morton on Thursday. The Lady Railers' first home match in the beautiful, newly refurbished LCHS gymnasium will take place on Sept. 6 against northern rival Bloomington. The Railers will turn right around on Sept. 8 to face, at home, another nonconference rival, Normal West. Season tickets are available at LCHS.

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Fitzpatrick and Frick will be joined on the Railer varsity by fellow senior Shanan McLaughlin. Three talented and athletic juniors will be critical to the team's success. They are Katie Conklen, Melissa Ramlow and Natalie Boward. Sophomores, who will also be essential to the Lady Railer's success, will include Ashley Meyrick, Kate Schonauer, Ashley Bonaparte and Jamie McFadden. Coach Howe and assistant coach Conrady are looking forward to helping this year's varsity take their skills and their game to the next level of success. This year's team will be looking to defend its Central State Eight conference championship against some tough CS-8 competition and to carry their success on into the postseason.

The Lady Railers will also look to be tough at the junior varsity level, with eight returning sophomores and three promising freshmen. Returning sophomores will be Lindsey Coyne, Abbey Feldman, Kelly Gosda, Bridgette Hyde, Kari Jones, Amy Ramlow, Chrissy Schonauer and Cori Wendell. Freshmen joining the junior varsity will be Molly Goodrich, Hilary Hobler and Samantha Lowman. Coach Crawford will attempt to continue her success at the junior varsity level after her recent successes with the freshman program over the last couple of years.

At the freshman level, another fine group of young ladies will move into the program, looking to continue the deep program that allows the Railers to keep its competitive edge year after year. The freshman players on the roster will be Laura Aughenbaugh, Emily Berglin, Michelle Boyer, Kelsey Bunner, Brittany Colby, Felicia Jackson, Kayla Jenkins, Kelsey Jurgens, Amy Kelley, Chelsie Landstrom, Hannah McShane and Leah Shirley. The freshmen will also have a new coach this year with the welcome addition of Amanda Allred to the LCHS coaching staff.

Having reloaded, let the games begin! And as always, GO, RAILERS!

[Rick Hobler]

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