Volleyball Seasons Ends In Region IV Finals

Jason Cuevas, Clarion Staff Writer

After a long season of player changes and new expectations the volleyball team’s season has come to an end in the Region IV tournament on Oct. 30. After beating the number three-ranked Joliet Junior College in the semi-finals, they lost to Rock Valley College in the finals.

Madison College also lost to Rock Valley in the Region IV final last year. This year was more of a surprise as the expectations before the tournament were a Joliet and Harper College final.

The matchup against Joliet was an upset for Madison College. Toby Parker, head coach, felt the team was confident coming into the match. The previous time facing Joliet they lost, but had taken Joliet to match point three times. The team also received a bit of extra motivation before the game started.

“While we were actually warming up for the Joliet match, the players from Joliet were actually talking about the final against Harper,” Parker said.

Middle blocker Kate Jonas was a key contributor in the Joliet match. Parker felt that she had the best game of her entire career. She also performed at close to the same level in the Rock Valley match.

Setter Kirsten Halma was also praised for her work in running the offense and playing a quarterback type role for the team.

After such a grueling match with Joliet the ream just did not have enough left to overcome Rock Valley. Parker did not think that the team was physically tired, but that there may have been some mental drain at that point.

Early in the season it was hard to imagine the team getting this far after losing multiple starters over the beginning of the season. While many teams may have folded in such a situation, Madison College was able to keep a cool head.

“I have never been a part of, in 24 years of coaching, something like this,” Parker said. “It’s special on lots of different levels.”

He talked about how no matter what happened the team was able to come in and work hard and maintain their approach. He feels that if anything the team actually became more relaxed with their approach to things as adversity added up. Parker says the team actually taught him some things with the attitude they carried.

“Every team has a memory for every coach that does it for any period of team. You’ll always remember a team for something, you always remember your athletes,” Parker said. “I’ll always look back on this group and always remember the win at all cost versus the absolute best offer, fall short, and our response to it is; the sun still comes up tomorrow. ”

Halma and outside hitter Hannah Schwartzer were named to the all conference team while Schwartzer and libero Calli Dahl were named to the all region team. Schwartzer has been a stand-out player for the team all season long.

“She’s just consistent. She just likes to play and she’s good at it,” Parker said.

The season may be over for the fans, but the reality is that volleyball season never really ends. Since players only have two years to play, recruiting for next year starts immediately. Coach Parker is already getting to work.

“We’re very happy where the program is at. It’s a nationally recognized program because of the athletes we bring in,” Parker said. “We want to keep that. You can’t exhale for too long.”