Chargers Fall to Moraine Valley in 5-Set Thriller at Nationals

  Aaron Frey
  Friday, November 16, 2018 3:09 PM
  Campus News, Athletics

Charleston, WV

The most successful season in Carl Sandburg College volleyball history ended in heartbreaking fashion.

On the verge of picking up the program’s first-ever victory at the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship, the Chargers instead saw a two-set lead evaporate and their season end in a 18-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-13 loss to Moraine Valley on Friday in the quarterfinals of the ninth-place bracket.

Sandburg (26-19) ends its season after winning its first Arrowhead Conference title since 1990 (with an 8-0 record) and successfully defending its Region IV District A tournament championship to make its second straight appearance at nationals.

“It hurts now, but after a while they’re going to be able to look back and realize how much they accomplished this year,” Chargers coach Todd Winkler said. “It’s a special team, and it’s been a special season.”

The No. 12 seed Chargers were impressive in the early going against the 13th-seeded Cyclones (30-7), whom they’d defeated in four sets during the regular season. Up 17-15 in the first set, sophomore Josalyn Owens (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln) put down a kill to start an 8-3 stretch to give the Chargers their first-ever set win at nationals.

A pair of aces from sophomore Hannah Thompson (Blandinsville, Ill./West Prairie) were part of a 6-0 run in the second that broke a 9-9 tie. Freshman Cora Vyhnanek (Colchester, Ill./West Prairie) fed sophomore Jordan Price (Fulton, Ill./Fulton) for a kill down the line that put Sandburg up two sets to none.

“We came out with really good energy and a lot of confidence,” Winkler said. “It’s tough to bounce back after you lose your first match of the tournament, but I thought we showed a lot of resilience early on.”

Moraine Valley, though, didn’t go away. The Cyclones ran to a 9-4 lead early in the third to avoid the sweep and took the lead in the fourth for good at 21-20 after a kill from Karly Andersen.

“We had chances to finish them off and didn’t take advantage,” Winkler said. “You can’t give teams an extra life, especially in a tournament like this, and they made us pay for it.”

Sandburg took a 7-4 lead in the fifth on an ace from sophomore Haley Stevenson (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg), but Moraine Valley came back to tie it at 10 before a back-and-forth finish.

Vyhnanek, who finished with 49 assists and 11 digs, fed Thompson for a kill and a 13-12 Chargers lead, but the Cyclones won the next three points on kills by Noelle Knezz, Elizabeth Coffey and Amanda Bulow to take the match.

Price totaled a team-high 15 kills on 31 attacks for the Chargers. Thompson added 12 kills, 17 digs and three aces, while freshman Peyton Bowman (Sciota, Ill./West Prairie) had 10 kills and 3½ blocks. Stevenson had a team-best 25 digs from her libero position.

“Our goal from the time we left here last year was to make it back, and we did that,” Winkler said. “This year we showed we can compete here. Now we want to get back again and show that we can win.” 

BOX SCORE: Sandburg vs. Moraine Valley

NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship Tournament Central

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Volleyball vs. Moraine Valley 1
Carl Sandburg College freshman Cora Vyhnanek make a pass during the second set of the Chargers’ match against Moraine Valley at the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship on Friday at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va. 

Volleyball vs. Moraine Valley 2
Carl Sandburg College freshman Peyton Bowman tries to hit past the block of Moraine Valley’s Karly Anderson (7) and Noelle Knezz during the fourth set of the Chargers’ match against the Cyclones at the NJCAA Division II Volleyball Championship on Friday at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va.


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Aaron Frey