ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Harper College volleyball team finished with a 2-2 record against stiff competition at the Rochester Community and Technical College Volleyball Invitational over the weekend. The invitational was held at this year's host of the NJCAA DIII Volleyball National Championship.
In Friday's first matchup against Minnesota-State Fergus Falls, the Hawks (8-8) pulled out a thrilling five-set victory (25-14, 25-19, 21-25, 21-25, 15-13) that took a total team effort. Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 22 digs while adding three service aces and four big blocks. Madison Rodriguez (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) and Alyse Kolner (Crystal Lake, Ill./Marion Central)each had 10 kills in the victory.
Libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) showed her quickness, totaling a team-high 28 digs in the match. Valerie Bazemore (Houston, Tex./Keller) directed the offense with 30 assists, while Katherine Milla(Honduras/CEAD Christian School) had 10 assists and seven digs in her first match of the year. Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown) recorded three services aces while tallying 13 digs.
"We are figuring things out," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "We are getting closer to where we need to be to win all our games. I truly like our progress as a team so far."
Harper could not carry over the momentum into Friday night's matchup with NJCAA Div. II Bismarck State College, falling in straight sets (18-25, 16-25, 17-25). Hischke was 15-for-16 hitting with a team-high seven kills in the match. Spychala led the Hawks with 14 digs, while Kolner had seven assists to pace the team.
"Fergus Falls had a very strong middle hitter, and Bismarck State is a very strong D2 team that should be ranked," Vilsoet said.
The Hawks rebounded from the defeat with a four-set victory over Minnesota West Community and Technical College on Saturday morning (23-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-16). Five Hawks totaled at least seven kills, led by Rodriguez's nine. Hischke and Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) both had their serves working, going a combined 31-for-31 with five aces. Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) led the Hawks' defense with 15 digs, and Murphy guided the offense with 20 assists.
In the final match of the weekend, Harper fought hard but fell to No. 4 Rochester Community and Technical College (20-25, 25-18, 17-25, 14-25), who also defeated No. 1 Madison College the day before in five sets.
Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) led the Hawks' attack with nine kills. Murphy totaled four service aces and 15 assists, while Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) led the defense with 30 digs.
"Hopefully, we improve our inconsistencies, and get a chance to win our region later on," Vilsoet said. "When we play well, we play very well. Perhaps we will get a chance to ride to Rochester again, this time in a bigger bus to play for a chance at a national championship."
The Hawks return to their home court Thursday for a N4C matchup with College of DuPage. First serve is scheduled for 6:00 PM.