SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It is considered good luck to rub the nose of Abraham Lincoln's statue in Springfield. For the Harper College volleyball team this past weekend, they became believers.
After splitting their first two matches on Friday, the team rubbed Lincoln's nose Saturday morning and won their final two matches that day to complete a successful 3-1 weekend at the Lincoln Land Invitational.
Harper vs. Kaskaskia College
The Hawks (23-16) got the weekend started on the right foot with a tightly-contested straight sets victory over Div. I Kaskaskia College (25-22, 25-23, 26-24), who beat Harper in the same invitational last year.
"This was a nice turn of events. We played very well," said Harper head coach Bob Viloset. "This match was a good confidence builder."
The Hawks built a 21-10 lead, but the Blue Angels responded with a 12-3 run to cut the lead to 24-22. Harper captured the next point to win the set. Madison Rodriguez(Palatine, Ill./Palatine) the attack with four kills in the set while Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) contributed 11 assists.
Harper fell behind 9-3 in the second set but clawed back into it. Trailing 23-22, the Hawks won the last three points to go up 2-0 in the match. Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) led a powerful attack with six kills.
In the third set, Harper fell behind 17-5 and the match looked to be heading to a fourth set, but Rebekah Hischke (Algonquin, Ill./Dundee Crown)'s strong serving (10-for-11, three aces) got the team back into the match. The Hawks still trailed 22-18, but they scored eight of the game's final 10 points to complete an amazing 12-point comeback.
Lindsey Murphy (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) led the Hawks in two categories, recording a double-double with 15 digs and 38 assists. Dabrowski finished the match with a team-high 14 kills to go along with nine digs.
Harper vs. #13 Butler County Community College (Div. II)
In Friday's nightcap match, the Hawks fell to a very strong Butler squad in straight sets (18-25, 12-25, 20-25).
Harper fell into a 17-7 hole in the first game and could not recreate the magic from the prior match against Kaskaskia. Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) led the Hawks with four kills and five digs. The second game was no different, as Butler built an early lead and cruised to victory.
In game three, Harper took a 16-15 lead but could not hold on for the victory.
Murphy led the team with 18 assists while libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) led the team defensively with 14 digs.
"They were very strong defensively and put their hits in play and relied upon their defense. I was impressed with them," Vilsoet said.
Harper vs. East Central College
The Hawks caught East Central at the right time, just after they played a hard-fought five-set match against Kaskaskia. Harper won in straight sets (25-9, 25-7, 25-19).
In the first two sets, the Hawks opened up big leads and won easily.
The final set was much closer, with the game tied at 16-16 before Harper won nine of the final 12 points en route to victory. Messner led the Hawks with five kills and six digs in the set.
Messner had a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs while Murphy was a perfect 16-for-16 serving with two aces to go along with 34 assists.
Harper vs. John A. Logan College
After the Hawks dropped a tough match against John A. Logan at the Harper College Invitational on Sept. 20, they enacted revenge on their opponents with a straight sets victory (25-23, 25-23, 25-21).
The Hawks fell into an early 16-5 hole in the first set but fought back to close the gap to 19-17. Harper took the lead at 21-20 and held on to complete an unlikely 11-point comeback.
The Hawks carried the momentum into set two, taking a lead of 21-14 before the Volunteers tied it at 23-23. Harper won the final two points to pick up the win. Rodriguez was a blocking machine with four rejections in the contest.
Harper raced out to an early 10-3 lead in set three, but the opponents closed the gap to 16-15. The Hawks responded to the adversity and finished strong to win the set. Dabrowski led the Hawks with six kills while Messner tallied 10 digs.
Murphy notched a double-double with 11 digs and 32 assists in the match.
Harper outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd) was named to the Lincoln Land All-Tournament Team. For the weekend, she tallied 34 kills and 50 digs.
Thoughts from Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet
"This was a nice volleyball vacation to Springfield for our team. We played four excellent teams this weekend," he said. "All-in-all, it was very fun volleyball experience for the players."
The Hawks return to action Tuesday against N4C foe Milwaukee. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 PM, and the match will be played at Alverno College.