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Zhanelle Geathers + Lindale Outlast Rival Van in Five Games

Lindale’s Zhanelle Geathers reaches for a returned ball during the Lady Eagles’ five-game victory at Van on Tuesday night. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

VAN — Lindale coach Meghan Renicker said improving her team’s defense has been a point of emphasis all season, and it showed up in a big way Tuesday night.

Behind a 21-block performance at the net, the Lady Eagles outlasted rival Van — ranked No. 2 in Class 3A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association — in five games, 25-22, 15-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-4.

“We’ve been trying to improve on that for a long time, and that’s one of our downfalls because we don’t block like we’re supposed to,” said Lindale senior Zhanelle Geathers, who finished the night with a match-high 20 kills and 10 blocks. “But we’re getting better, slowly but surely.”

Lindale’s Kaitlin Rice spikes the ball during the Lady Eagles’ five-game win at Van on Tuesday night. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Lindale (24-3) opened up a 9-2 lead in the decisive fifth game, helped along by a block from Geathers and two from Makenna Allen, who had 11 kills and three blocks for the match.

“We didn’t plan on losing,” Geathers said. “Van’s been a big rival of ours for a long time and we didn’t want to lose to them.”

Van (22-6) rebounded from dropping the match’s opening set with a dominant Game 2 victory and prolonged the match with a strong performance in the fourth game. But the Lady Vandals couldn’t overcome Lindale’s 7-0 run at the beginning of Game 5.

“The last game I think we just kinda ran out of gas,” said Van coach Kristen Reaves. “We played four really great (games) … those four (games) were the best they’ve played against a strong team. I think that last (game) we just ran out of gas; we couldn’t pick it back up and get any momentum back in it.”

Travicia Acy had five kills and six blocks for Lindale. Rhyan Rand added seven kills and one block, Kaitlin Rice chipped in with six kills, one block and three aces and Sydney Tiiman dished out 34 assists to go with three kills.

“We were really pumped up because I think it’s still a big rivalry between us, and I think the girls have kinda talked it up all week,” Renicker said. “It was a big match coming into this today and the girls were really excited to come over here and play tonight. It was a good game for us before district.”

Van’s Rebekah Rogers gets a piece of a returned ball during the Lady Vandals’ match against Lindale on Tuesday night in Van. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Bri Thompson led Van with 14 kills, six blocks and two aces. Hallee Carter added 10 kills, four blocks and two aces, Rebekah Rogers had nine kills and two blocks and Morgan Wilkerson finished with 20 assists.

“I definitely don’t like losing, but we definitely can learn some stuff from losing and what it takes to win,” Reaves said.

Lindale jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the opening game, prompting Reaves to call a timeout. The Lady Vandals eventually went up 22-20 before Lindale closed on a 5-0 run to take a 1-0 lead.

Van wasn’t deterred, rolling to a 10-point win in Game 2 to even the match.

“I thought my girls did a good job of coming back and stepping up,” Reaves said. “We started off slow that first game, but came back and got back in it and kept the momentum for that second game.”

But in the end, it wasn’t enough to keep Geathers from getting her hands on multiple Van shot attempts.

“(Geathers) does a great job of getting there and blocking everything,” Reaves said. “We just get frustrated and couldn’t get around her. It’s definitely good for us to see teams like that. We want to play teams that are going to get us ready for district and the playoffs.”

Lindale’s season resumes Friday at home against Texas High. Van plays at Whitehouse on Friday before beginning District 15-3A play at Mabank next Tuesday.

Lindale’s Sarah Crotser, Hanna Mitchell and Elizabeth McLaughlin celebrate their team scoring a point during their match at Van on Tuesday night. (© Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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