1A volleyball — Vanguard improves to 4-3 in league with victories over C.S. Lewis Academy, Falls City

Despite falling 3-1 to Country Christian, Veritas made progress in its quest to make the district tournament by bouncing back to best C.S. Lewis Academy and Fall City.

The wins moved the Vanguard into a tie for third place in the Casco League along with the Moutaineers, as both teams are 4-3, while the Cougars (3-1) sit in fifth having played just four games.

Veritas and Country Christian pushed each other in the first two sets on Sept. 17, with the Cougars taking the first 25-22 and the Vanguard the second 28-26.

The Vanguard struggled at times with their offense and watched as the visitors seized control of the match with a 25-14 win in the third set. Head coach Rachel Schippers’ team responded in the fourth, but the Cougars were able to close out the match with a 25-23 win.

Briana Stoppa recorded a season-high 16 kills in the win and formed a strong partnership at the net with Natalie Anderson, who had doled out 31 assists.

“Country Christian has a solid team and we knew going into it we would have to play our best,” Schippers said. “Even though we had some good moments, we failed to play consistently and couldn’t keep up with the Cougars.”

Matchups between Veritas and C.S. Lewis are always spirited, but there was added excitement in the air Thursday as senior middle blocker Mikaela Raudsepp took the court for the Watchmen for the first time since 2011.

Raudsepp is still nursing a wrist injury she originally suffered during club volleyball in the spring and hasn’t started hitting freely, but entered in the third set to spell setter Halah Grobey, who was battling a sore foot.

“It’s been a long wait,” Raudsepp said. “I’ve been practicing with the girls, but my therapist just wanted me to take it easy.”

Veritas took the first two sets rather easily 25-13 and 25-18, but Raudsepp rallied her team to a 25-21 win in the third.

The Vanguard, however, regained their composure and completed the victory by taking the fourth 25-20. The quartet of Stoppa, Anderson, Mimi Danese and Tess Johnson combined for 33 kills in the win.

“There were a few moments when the girls sat back, in the third set especially, and then had to dig out of a hole which they did,” Schippers said. “Overall I was pleased with how my girls handled themselves.”

Service errors by Fall City helped Veritas win the opening set of their match 25-12, but the Mountaineers quickly leveled the match by taking the second 25-23 and put the Vanguard on the ropes by winning the third by the same score.

Rather than sitting back, Veritas jumped to an early lead in the fourth and controlled the match from that point on, winning the fourth 25-18 and the fifth 15-6. Johnson led the effort with 13 kills and Stoppa added 12.

“I think it was important for us, as a team, to see that with the right adjustments we didn’t have to wait for the other team to error, we could make smarter decisions and earn the win which we did,” Schippers said. “It was a good lesson learned for my girls.”

For C.S. Lewis, which played well for stretches against the Vanguard and Perrydale, also a 3-1 setback, before being swept by St. Paul on Monday, the results have yet to come, but with Raudsepp integrating back into the team, the future looks bright.

“We’re competitive with teams and putting points on the board, it’s just about rising to the next level,” head coach Vince Swagerty said. “Part of that comes with getting all of our people healthy.”

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