Volleyball team successful in initial outing
The record is already blemished, but overall it was a successful 2013 debut for Moraine Valley College’s volleyball team.
The Cyclones, who went 35-0 during the 2012 regular campaign and earned a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national tournament, got handed a defeat during the two-day South Suburban Tournament. However, Moraine offset that loss with three wins to begin the year on a high note last week.
The Cyclones beat Harper College 25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18 in their season-opener on Thursday behind solid performances from Kara Kentner, Gina Ryan and Taylor Serrano, all of whom totaled 11 kills. Serrano also registered four blocks.
Other contributors were Autumn Seiler (10 kills) and freshman Alexandria Bojan (six kills, one block).
Carl Sandburg was vanquished more easily as Moraine downed it 25-16, 25-15, 25-15 in its second encounter of the young season. Ryan (12 kills), Seiler (eight kills, three service aces), Kentner (seven kills) and Serrano (five kills, three blocks, one ace) paced the Cyclones’ winning effort.
Moraine found further success at Indian Hills’ expense on Friday, with the former prevailing in a hard-fought match by a 25-19, 19-25, 25-19, 25-21 count. Kentner put down 12 kills while not committing any errors to spearhead the Cyclones’ performance. In addition, the Sandburg product supplied her team with 17 assists, eight digs and a pair of aces.
Ryan and Seiler both chipped in 10 kills, while Serrano provided eight. Setter Joanna Curtis (27 assists) and libero Kayla Manthei (12 digs, two aces) also made their presences felt.
After battling Indian Hills, Moraine had little time to rest before tangling with Des Moines Community College and wound up on the short end of a 25-16, 28-26, 25-13 final. Serrano (six kills, two aces, one block), Ryan (six kills, 10 digs, one ace), Seiler (five kills, two aces) and Kentner (five kills) all played well in a losing cause.
Cyclones coach Gloria Coughlin said her squad, which was ranked seventh in the NJCAA Division II preseason poll, will get tested a number of times in the coming weeks.
“We have a tough schedule ahead of us, and we’re looking forward to those first few tournaments that allow the players to get to know one another on the court,” said Coughlin, who is in her 22nd year at Moraine. “We have great potential and are very excited for the possibilities as things start to come together for this team.
“Our 2012 undefeated regular season was grand. However, the fifth-game loss in the first round at nationals still burns this team, and these players welcome the additional talent to help get us back to the tournament. They understand that every new season brings new challenges.
“This team is happy to be back in the gym preparing for the tasks ahead of them.”
Kentner, a D-II All-American and the reigning Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Player of the Year, is the Cyclones’ top returnee. Others who earned postseason honors a year ago include Ryan (All-Region IV and all-conference), Seiler (all-region and all-conference), Curtis (all-conference) and right-side hitter Stephanie Dagenis (all-conference).
Besides Mother McAuley grad Serrano, a transfer from Illinois central College, Moraine’s list of newcomers includes Bojan, Manthei, Jessica Chaput (Shepard), Samantha Newhall (Shepard), Olivia Lindner (Oak Lawn) and Colleen Kull.
With a deeper squad lined up this season, the Cyclones anticipate more success in 2013.
All-ISCC golfer Jack Misheck returns and is expected to be a leader for this year’s crew. Pat Neylon (Shepard) played every match last season and should step up his game as a sophomore, while Nathan LaPorte is another returnee who has worked hard to improve and will likely find himself as one of Moraine’s regular scorers.
New to the roster are Sandburg alumni Joe Knight, a potential all-region player, and long-hitting John Randolph. Along with them come John Yerkes (Marist), Jeff Cizek (Sandburg), Austin Temple (Stagg), Avery Peterson and Zac Trainar.
While the Cyclones will miss the presence of national qualifier Jeremy Fraser, who’s now at Lewis University, they shouldn’t have to endure any measurable drop-off.
“We have a stronger and deeper team, and I look forward to the season with cautious optimism,” Moraine coach Bob Freudenthal said. “We’ll miss having Fraser on the team, but we have some experienced players and we’ll be competitive. We’ll be in the mix this year.”
Despite their promising future, the Cyclones were unable to start the season off as well as they had hoped at the PrairieView Preview. Misheck’s 80 was Moraine’s lowest individual score.
Rounding out the scoring were Neylon (86), Randolph (87), Cizek (88) and Knight (89).
With a former standout player now coaching the team and a couple returnees having experienced last season’s national meet, the Cyclones carry some momentum into 2013.
Moraine went unbeaten in 2012, collecting conference and region titles along the way. Its big gun was two-time national qualifier and ISCC Player of the Year Nicole Selvaggio, who has succeeded Bill Finn as Cyclones boss.
Although she is no longer competing, Selvaggio intends to have a team that will fight hard for wins this season. All-region and all-conference player Alexandra Armon heads up the group, but Ann Pendergast is another reliable veteran who participated in the national tourney along with Armon.
Joining them on the roster Claudia Maka (Oak Lawn), Elizabeth Dominguez, Kelley Grzych, Tricia Poremba, Lindsey Walker and Atah Bahri (Shepard).
“I’m used to winning so I want to keep that up,” Selvaggio said. “I know what it takes. I want to come in first — I want that [championship] banner in the gym.
“They all have a great attitude and they’re picking up on things that benefited me when I was a player. If they do their best and fight for every point, I’ll be happy.”
The Cyclones open their season at home on Sept. 6 against the College of DuPage.