Coming off a record-breaking volleyball season that took Chet Snyder’s program to new heights, the Lady Mules had a high bar to clear this year to make some noise.
Noise, they have made, as they have jumped out to a 17-1 record as they begin Black Diamond play. They are currently on an eight-match winning streak, including another tournament championship.
Beat The Bison
On Sep. 12, Fairfield got a surprising challenge from Grayville and dropped the first game, 25-23. The Lady Mules answered by taking the next two sets, 25-15, 25-17.
Defend Benton Title
That challenge was a precursor to last Saturday’s Benton Invitational. Fairfield had never won that tournament, but they got their first a year ago. The second came much quicker, as they defended their title with five straight wins.
Fairfield dominated their pool, winning all three matches in straight sets. They bet West Frankfort, 25-15, 25-10. Carlyle was a stiff test, but the Lady Mules prevailed, 25-22, 25-22. They clinched the pool with a 25-15, 25-21 win over Woodlawn.
The Gold flight saw three powerhouse southern Illinois teams advance for round-robin play. Fairfield knocked off Nashville in the first match, 25-19, 15-25, 15-10. The Hornets were the team that ended Fairfield’s season in the Supersectional last year.
Nashville rebounded to beat Pinckneyville in three, 21-25, 27-25-15-13, and then turned around to root for their rivals in the hopes of a three-way tie.
Fresh off the loss, the Panthers rebounded well to win the first set against Fairfield, 25-14. The Lady Mules showed their grit and took the next two sets, 25-17, 15-12, to clinch the championship.
In the second set, Fairfield jumped out to a 13-4 lead behind three kills from Chloe Britton and two from Jacklyn Simms. That early cushion was enough to allow Fairfield to trade points the rest of the way and lead comfortable the whole way. They led by as many as 10 at 23-13.
In the final set, Fairfield scored five of the first six points, starting with a block by Leah Bowers.
Fairfield went up 7-2 on a double block, but then Pinckneyville got bck within two at 8-6.
Callie Vaughan had a kill and the Panthers had an attack error to push the Fairfield lead back to four. Pinckneyville followed with a 4-1 run to get within one at 11-10. Britton and Simms had back-to-back kills for a 13-10 lead, but against the Panthers rallied with two straight to get back within one.
That would be the last rally they had, however, as Fairfield got two straight kills by Simms to end the day.
The Benton tournament was the second team championship this year, after Fairfield also won the season-opening Fairfield tournament. They were third in the Casey-Westfield tournament, where they suffered their only loss of the year. Tolono Unity bet them there and is still undefeated on the year at 17-0.
Triumph In BDC Opener
Fairfield followed up the Benton Invitational win by starting conference play Thursday. They easily handled the Johnston City Lady Indians, 25-13, 25-16.
Fairfield jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first set and was never challenged, maintaining at least a seven-point lead the rest of the set.
The Lady Indians started off better in the second set as the Lady Mules took their foot off the gas a tad. Johnston City trailed just 9-7 before a 9-3 run by the Mule gals gave them command again.
Fairfield scored five in a row for a 24-13 lead before winning by nine.
Simms led the offense with nine kills, while Britton had five and Nadia Reid had four. Britton and Reid each had two aces as well.
Jayvee Wins Own Tourney
The volleyball success is not confined to just the varsity level either. Fairfield’s jayvee squad won the Fairfield jayvee tournament at FCHS as well Saturday, besting a field of eight other teams despite also having a fresh/soph team in the field as well.
Fairfield is at Hamilton County Tuesday and then will host Eldorado Thursday.