Effingham’s Kennedy Sowell (left) and Lexi Chrappa (right) will continue their volleyball careers at Vincennes University.

Lexi Chrappa and Kennedy Sowell couldn't help but cry after they had their season end at the hands of Mattoon nearly one month ago.

They knew that moment could have been one of the last they shared on a volleyball court together.

But it wasn't.

On Senior Night — one week before the loss — Chrappa announced that she was attending Vincennes University to further her volleyball career.

What she didn't know, though, was that her long-time friend would soon be doing the same thing.

"[Gary Sien] ended up contacting me," said Sowell on how she ended up with the Trailblazers. "I didn't ever think about Vincennes. I was super proud of her for going there, but it's not a school that I ever looked at and when he contacted me, I was like, 'OK, I'll give this a shot. I'll go to the visit," but I kept it from Lexi because I wanted to surprise her with it."

Sowell held offers from Saint Mary of the Woods, Wabash Valley, Southwestern Illinois College, East Central College, Morton College, Mineral Area College, and Indiana Tech, with numerous other schools wanting her to visit.

However, once she stepped foot on Vincennes' campus, three reasons, in particular, made it stand out from the rest.

First was the recent success under Sien.

Vincennes is coming off of a 22-4 season. The Trailblazers won the Region 24 championship over John A. Logan in four sets before losing to Jefferson College in the Midwest District semifinals.

"It's a very competitive program," Chrappa said. "I liked that they just won their region and beat John A., which was nice for me to hear. We have big shoes to fill next year."

Then was the chance to make an immediate impact.

Vincennes will graduate six sophomores, three of whom primarily played middle blocker, Sowell's position, and one who played outside hitter, Chrappa's position.

Finally, was the academics.

Athletically, the university serves as a junior college. Academically, though, it is a four-year institution, which both Sowell and Chrappa liked.

"I liked their education program; the fact that it was a two-year school, but they had a bachelor's program," Sowell said. "So that will be nice for me in the long run."

Sowell plans on majoring in nursing. She said that she does not play on continuing her volleyball career after the two years are over.

Chrappa, on the other hand, does plan to continue after her two years, but there is a backup plan.

"Right now, the plan is definitely to transfer after two years and play somewhere else, but if I decide not to, I will also go there for four years," she said.

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 217-347-7151 ext. 124 or

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