Van Rallies to Capture Dramatic Five-Game Victory Over Rival Lindale
LINDALE -- The community of Van has had quite the last few days in the neighboring town of Lindale, beginning with the football team's win on Friday and culminating with a five-game win for the Lady Vandals on Tuesday night.
Van rallied for wins in the final two games to outlast rival Lindale, 22-25, 26-24, 19-25, 25-19, 15-12, in the final non-district match for both teams.
"It's a huge win for us," Van coach Kristen Reaves said. "(Lindale is) a great team, they have great hitters. This was big for us because they're a 4A school and we're 3A. They were in our district last year and beat us, so this was a nice win for my girls."
The Lady Vandals improved to 25-3 on the season heading into their District 15-3A opener Friday at home against Mabank.
"I think we're ready (for district)," Reaves said. "This gets us really ready."
Junior outside hitter Rebekah Rogers led the way for the Lady Vandals with 16 kills, while senior middle blocker Haley McCarty chipped in with 11. Morgan Wilkerson finished with a match-high 38 assists.
Reaves said Van's offensive attack centered on keeping it away from Lindale's standout 6-3 middle blocker Zhanelle Geathers.
"Rebekah and Haley were amazing, they did a good job," Reaves said. "We really tried to focus on hitting away from (Geathers) in the middle and they started to listen and really do that."
Lindale (16-9), which begins District 16-4A play Friday at Corsicana, was led by Geathers' 18 kills and seven blocks. Hannah Brown followed with 13 kills and two aces, while Savannah Cantrell contributed 11 kills, three blocks and four aces. Sydney Tiiman assisted on 37 points.
"I thought we played well tonight," Lady Eagles coach Meghan Koonce said. "We've had some good practices here this past week. I think we're ready for district right now."
Lindale took two of the first three games, and looked to be in complete control after going up 5-1 in the fourth game.
That's when sophomore middle blocker Bri Thompson rose to the occasion, literally, and began providing strong resistance at the net to Lindale's powerful attack. All three of Thompson's blocks occurred in the fourth game, and two her of eight kills came in the match-deciding fifth set.
"Bri Thompson, she's a beast," Reaves said. "She's just incredible. Once she gets in the game -- it takes her a while to finally get into it -- but in the fourth and fifth game she was on. She was ready to play and did an awesome job."
Koonce said her team had difficulty finishing plays.
"Van came in ready to win tonight," she said. "I think our momentum got a little down there towards the end; we just didn't finish and made a lot of mistakes on our side that we shouldn't have made. We started kind of playing a little scared, and that hurt us a little bit tonight."