VANDALIA – The newness of the St. Elmo/Brownstown volleyball co-op didn’t just affect the players on Thursday in the Lady Eagles’ season-opener at Vandalia. It had their veteran coach feeling butterflies too.
“I’m always nervous before a game,” St. Elmo/Brownstown coach Elise Asher said. “But even more so tonight with a kind of Fayette County showcase and all you (media) guys here.”
Those nerves showed early on, as the Lady Vandals dominated the first game from the service line, cruising to a 25-17 first-set win. But St. Elmo recovered to claim a 25-23 win the second set to push the match to a winner-take-all third game.
The Lady Eagles looked poised to pull off a mild upset of Class 2A Vandalia early on, enjoying a 16-10 lead at one point, but the Lady Vandals’ duo of Johanna Walton and Megan Godoyo proved too much down the stretch, as Vandalia rallied for a 25-23 win.
Despite the defeat, Asher was encouraged with her team’s effort.
“I asked them to do three things tonight: hustle, make serves and take a breath,” Asher said. “They did what I asked them to do. The physical mistakes we can correct.”
St. Elmo made most of those mistakes in the first game, as Vandalia served up eight aces and got a combined seven kills from Godoyo and Walton. Several other Lady Vandals serves weren’t technically aces, but were either not returned or the returns set up ideal Vandalia attacks.
“We struggled with serve receive,” Asher said. “I’m going to make a lineup switch to change some of the awkwardness in our rotation.”
The Lady Eagles served notice they were not going quietly by opening the second game with a 5-0 run, which was highlighted by a pair of Makayla Walk aces.