CLC volleyball team enters postseason play on hot streak
It wasn't that long ago that the College of Lake County (CLC) volleyball team was struggling through the first half of its season.
The closer the postseason got, however, the stronger the Lancers played.
Starting with a historic win to end a long losing streak to one program, CLC peeled off eight wins in its last nine regular-season matches. The key will be keeping the scorching play going when the Lancers dive into district play beginning Nov. 2.
“The competition is going to be tough. It's not going to be easy,” CLC Head Coach Bill Szczesniak told the Lake County Gazette.
What kick-started the Lancers' surge was a home win on Sept. 22 over Kankakee Community College, which is something no CLC team had been able to say in about 20 years, according to CLCLancers.com. The Lancers entered the match with a 2-6 record and trailed KCC two sets to one in the match. CLC came back, however, to tie the match by winning the fourth set, then won by taking the fifth set 15-13.
“I think that sparked the players quite a bit,” Szczesniak said. “They knew they could play with these people and do well.”
That was the start of a six-match winning streak, interrupted only by a 3-1 loss to South Suburban on Oct. 6, but the Lancers got right back on track after that, beating Elgin 3-1 on Oct. 11 and Malcolm X College 3-0 on Oct. 13.
One key for the great run has been more aggressive serving, Szczesniak said, with the team trying to go for more service aces. Statistics show a stronger service game for the Lancers during the streak. According to njcaa.org, CLC averaged 8.2 aces per match over its last nine matches of the regular season, compared with 5.1 aces per match in the first eight matches.
“Our defense has definitely stepped up,” Szczesniak said. “All our players are very scrappy to keep the ball off the floor and trying to get the ball back and attacking back at the opponent.”
The team also has done well off serve-receive, Szczesniak said.
Offensive balance in the attacks is a strong point as well, according to statistics on njcaa.org. For example, in the win over Malcolm X College, three players had at least five kills, led by Monica Donald's seven. Against Elgin, five players had at least seven kills.
There remain areas to work on ahead of the district games. Szczesniak said they plan to work more on offensive plays and setter-hitter combinations to get the timing down. The team also plans to continue working on serve-receive while focusing on more blocking techniques.
As of Oct. 20, CLC was fourth in the Illinois Skyway Conference with a 4-3 record in league play, according to IllinoisSkyway.org. McHenry County College won its second-straight league title, with a 7-0 record.
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