ROCKFORD, Ill. – The fifth-ranked Harper College volleyball team knocked off defending national champ Rock Valley (25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20) in the Region IV Semifinals on Saturday morning to set up a title match with No. 1 Madison. The Hawks took the WolfPack to a fifth set, and the match was tied at 10-10 before Harper lost 15-12. The scores of the match were 25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 20-25 and 12-15.
Harper's season ends with a 31-21 record. Three Harper players – outside hitter Alex Messner (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Fremd), libero Kelly Spychala (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) and middle hitter Veronica Dabrowski(Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) – made the NJCAA Div. III Region IV All-Tournament team for their efforts.
Harper vs. Rock Valley-Region IV Semifinals
Messner had a season-high 17 kills to go with 17 digs in the four-set victory over the defending national champ Golden Eagles on their home court. She also showed her versatility with four big blocks. Setter Lindsey Murphy(Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South) added to her nation-leading assist total with 35 assists and added 10 digs to record another double-double.
In the service game, Murphy was a perfect 25-for-25 with three aces while Dabrowski was 17-for-19 with three aces of her own. Defensively, Spychala was all over the court with 27 digs while freshman Morgan Peterson (Roselle, Ill./Conant ) contributed 16 digs.
"We played very well against the defending national champions and deserved the chance to play against the No. 1 team in the nation," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet.
The victory was the Hawks' third consecutive win over the Golden Eagles after losing the home opener to them in four sets back on Aug. 27.
Harper vs. No. 1 Madison-Region IV Finals
With a berth to the NJCAA National Championship on the line, both teams played their hearts out in an excellent five-set match.
The Hawks took the first set 25-18, but the WolfPack rebounded with a 25-15 win in the second set.
Harper claimed the third set with a 25-23 victory to take a 2-1 advantage in the match and inch closer to a bid to nationals. Madison once again showed its resiliency, bouncing back with a 25-20 win to set up the deciding fifth set.
In that fifth set, the WolfPack (31-3) found a way to beat the Hawks and win their 18th straight match.
"Both teams deserved to win this match. We were at 10-10 in game five, and we were playing well. Either team could have won this match," Vilsoet said.
Messner once again led the Hawks with a 14 kills coupled with 22 digs. Melina Villaber (Chicago, Ill./Taft) played a strong match, putting down 14 kills while tallying 16 digs. Murphy once again provided a steady presence in the setting game, handing out 36 assists while adding 22 digs.
On the defensive end, Dabrowski had four blocks while Spychala recorded a season-high 38 digs.