KANKAKEE, Ill. – The Harper College volleyball team finished the regular season strong, winning matches against Kankakee Community College and Lewis and Clark Community College at the Kankakee Trimatch on Saturday.
Harper vs. Kankakee Community College
The Hawks (29-20) beat a strong Kankakee squad in four sets on Saturday morning (25-17, 25-14, 18-25, 25-18).
In the first set, Harper maintained control throughout, holding leads of 8-5, 15-10, 18-11 and 22-15 before picking up the victory. Outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) played a strong set with four kills and four digs while setter Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) directed the offense with 10 assists and added four digs.
The Hawks carried over the strong play into the second set, building a lead of 19-12 on their way to a relatively easy victory. Messner contributed six more kills and five digs while Murphy had 15 assists in the win.
Harper dug itself into a 19-10 hole and used strong serving to cut the deficit to 22-18 but could not pull out the win. Sophomores Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) (four kills) and Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) (seven digs) led the Hawks statistically.
Looking to close out the match in the fourth set, the Hawks built a 15-10 lead and went on to win comfortably. Spychala once again displayed her defensive excellence with 13 digs while Messner, Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) and Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) each had three kills.
"We played virtually a perfect match. I didn't ruin it by talking to them during timeouts and between games," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "I watched some of the best volleyball from the best seat in the house. This proves that coaching happens at practices, not during the matches."
Messner (13 kills, 18 digs) and Murphy (11 digs, 42 assists) both tallied double-doubles in the victory. Dabrowski put down 10 kills to go with a team-high four service aces. Peterson was 20-for-20 hitting with seven kills and also a perfect 17-for-17 serving. Spychala continued to add to her nation-leading digs total with 27 more digs.
Harper vs. Lewis and Clark Community College
After a well-played match against Kankakee, the Hawks started off slow against Lewis and Clark but rebounded nicely for a four-set win to end the regular season (17-25, 25-8, 25-19, 25-19).
Harper struggled in the first set, falling behind 13-9 and 22-17 before losing. Outside hitter Alyse Kolner (Crystal Lake, Ill./Marion Central) paced the Hawks with three kills and four digs.
Harper made some adjustments in the second set, and they paid off with a blowout victory. Peterson was a perfect 6-for-6 serving with an ace in the win. The Hawks won a tight third set as Messner caught fire with five kills and 8-for-8 serving with an ace.
In the final set of the regular season, the Hawks held leads of 4-1, 11-6, 14-18, and 20-15 en route to victory.
For the match, Peterson and Messner led Harper with 11 kills apiece. Defensively, Dabrowski (16 digs) and Spychala (15 digs) provided a lift while Murphy notched her sixth consecutive double-double (11 digs, 41 assists) to end the regular season.
The Harper volleyball team opens postseason play with a Region IV Quarterfinals match at home on Wednesday against Triton at 6 PM. If the Hawks win, they will move on to face either Rock Valley or Milwaukee on Saturday morning in the Region IV Semifinals.
If Harper was to win that match, they would move on to face the winner of No. 1 Madison vs. Joliet/DuPage in the Region IV Championship at 1 PM on Saturday, with a berth to nationals on the line.