Start calling them the champs because the Cyclone volleyball team played exactly how they needed to earn their fifth NJCAA Region IV championship. They'll head to the national tournament next week in West Virginia.
It was the culmination of the region tournament, Nov. 4, where the Cyclones determined their fate after two matches with tough conference rivals, one of which they lost to for the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference title.
First, they faced the previously nationally ranked McHenry County College Scots. Elizabeth Coffey made significant contributions in this game, blocking nine (team total was 13). A solid effort earned the win in three sets: 25-17, 25-18, 25-19. Abbi Fletcher had 13 kills and 15 digs, Lauren Gausselin tallied 22 digs and four aces while Taylor Bulow earned 26 assists.
The final matchup with Waubonsee Community College determined the region champs. Waubonsee had defeated Moraine Valley last month in four sets for the conference title. This time, the Cyclones were on their A-game, prepared for this moment and had control the entire time, winning in three: 25-19, 25-23, 25-23. Fletcher added 16 more kills, Taylor Bulow increased her assist count to 29 and Gausselin dug up 20.
The last time the Cyclones won regionals and competed at nationals was in 2013 under the leadership of since retired Coach Gloria Coughlin. Following their performance, Fletcher, Coffey and Taylor Bulow were named All-Tournament players.
"Our conference loss to Waubonsee didn't sit well with us. Knowing that we would likely meet up with them again in the regional tournament, we took some time to learn from our mistakes and refocus. We came in with a game plan and stuck to it. The whole team was on the same page mentally and physically. Our energy was high, and effort was consistent. It truly was a team effort, and I couldn't have asked for anything more from them. They took control of the match and never let up," said head Coach Lauren Lorenz, who will be taking her team to nationals for the first time in her three-tenure at Moraine Valley. "I am excited to see how we compare to the other top teams in the nation. This is a new experience for all of us, but I am confident that if we play like we did at regionals, we will be successful."
The Cyclones will compete at the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship, Nov. 15-17, in Charleston, West Virginia.