Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spychala's Defensive Prowess on Display for Hawks

Athlete of the Week: Kelly Spychala
Harper libero Kelly Spychala is leading the country in digs.
PALATINE, Ill. – Sophomore volleyball player Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) had an outstanding week this past week with 141 digs in six matches and is currently the leading the nation in digs with 459. Harper coach Bob Vilsoet said Spychala, the team's libero, is also the vocal leader and backbone of the Harper defense. For these reasons she has been named the second Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.

Spychala came to Harper College in the fall of 2012 after her sister Katie played volleyball for the Hawks in 2008 and 2009 and was a key part of the team that made it to nationals in 2009 as well as an Academic All-American. This past week, the 5-foot-6 libero has elevated her play to new heights for the Hawks, who are ranked No. 7 in the most recent national poll.

Last Thursday against No. 1 Madison College, she tallied 22 digs. Against tough competition over the weekend, Spychala had 22 digs against D2 Black Hawk, 20 digs against D1 John A. Logan, 18 digs against D2 Lincoln Land and 31 digs against Marshalltown. Finally, she recorded 25 digs in a victory over No. 5 Rock Valley, the defending national champion in D3.

"Kelly has an innate desire to play the best she possibly can on every point she plays," said Vilsoet. "She never takes a point off. If she doesn't make a play or dig, she comes back and figures out where she should have been on that play so that point doesn't happen again against her."

Spychala's 459 digs are 87 more than the next closest NJCAA Div. III player, Tara Wogomon of Rock Valley. Her 5.28 digs/set rank 12th in the nation.

Athlete of the Week: Kelly Spychala File
As a freshman, she totaled 338 digs in 101 sets (3.35 digs/set). With about half of the season still remaining, Spychala could break the Harper record for digs in a year (811) and threaten the career record (1298).

According to Vilsoet, Spychala is not only all over the court on defense but an exemplary teammate who genuinely wants the team to win and is providing constant encouragement to her teammates who step in to fill her position at a given time.

"You can tell by her attitude that it doesn't matter to her who does what on the team – her one and only passion is to win that point, the game, and then the match," Vilsoet said.

With about half of the season left, Spychala feels the Hawks are improving and still have their best volleyball ahead of them.

"If everyone performs at the higher level they are capable of, we can make a run to nationals for sure," Spychala said.

While she has not yet received any offers from four-year schools, she said she'd love to play at the next level while pursuing her degree in elementary education. She also acknowledged that her older sister's good experience at Harper is something she is now experiencing for herself.

The Hawks will continue to play good teams in the coming weeks, giving Spychala plenty of opportunities to impress four-year schools looking to recruit an agile and consistent defender, strong serve receive passer and most importantly a team leader with a strong will to win.

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