St. Elmo looked like it might cruise after that, as it led 22-15 at one point, but Jessica Sullens sparked a 7-0 Vandalia run from the service line with seven-straight points and a key dig to keep the game-tying run alive.
But the Lady Eagles regrouped and closed out the set victory on an Elizabeth Guerrero ace.
Vandalia lagged through the early stages of the third game much like St. Elmo/Brownstown did in the first game, and found itself trailing 16-10 after a Jenna Miller ace and a hitting error.
But a Walton stuff block got Vandalia back on track, kicking off an 8-0 run to set up a see-saw finish.
A Gabi Moore kill had the Lady Eagles up 19-18, but Walton came right back with a kill and a St. Elmo error put Vandalia up for good. Moore tried to rally the Lady Eagles late with a kill and ace to make it 24-23 Vandalia, but Sullens – the Lady Vandals’ setter – finished the match with a stuff block.
On a night in which both teams had few true individual standouts, Walton was a difference-maker for Vandalia in the middle, finishing with eight kills and four stuff blocks.
“You don’t see many lefthanded middles,” Asher said. “She’s a good hitter and she got where she needed to make attacks.”
Moore led St. Elmo/Brownstown with seven kills. She is the lone returning St. Elmo starter from the Lady Eagles’ super-sectional run last year. A handful of players return from Brownstown’s starting lineup, however.
“With the combination of those two schools, I think they are going to compete hard and be competitive,” Vandalia coach Allison Hall said. “And they’re well coached.”