LINCOLN, IL — Lincoln College Volleyball hosted the 7th Annual Hampton Inn Classic Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-31. The Lady Lynx went 4-0 at the five-team round robin event to run their record to 21-11, a season-high ten games over .500.
Lincoln began play on Friday afternoon by winning a five-set thriller over the Southeastern Community College Hawks (IA). Lincoln took set one 25-21, but faltered in the next two sets to drop them 21-25, 22-25. In set four, Lincoln was able to slow down the SCC offense by blocking effectively and serving more aggressively. Lincoln won the set 25-20 to force a deciding set to 15. In that set, Lincoln went down 0-3, but a Kaylyn Hoffert (Lincoln) kill for a side out and two quick points served by libero Megan Gilliam (Waterloo) tied the game. LC then grabbed the lead for good after a five point run of serves from sophomore setter Makalya Suelter (Peoria). Lincoln held on to win the set 15-9.
In the match, Hoffert would lead all hitters with 14 kills while Suelter and fellow sophomore setter Jenna Weller (Salt Fork) combined to dish out 33 set assists. Gilliam led the defense with 24 digs and she also recorded a team-high 15 service points in the match.
On Friday evening, LC faced Highland Community College (IL) in their second match of the event. Highland looked strong in set one as they came out swinging and put Lincoln on the defensive right away. After building a six-point lead early, HCC held on to win set one 25-22.
In set two, Highland appeared to have the upper hand in the early going once again, but this time Lincoln was able to respond and keep the score close throughout. Lqter in the set, Highland took a 23-19 lead and appeared poised to go up two sets to none, but a Lincoln side out on a kill by sophomore Mattie Giese (Highland Park) stopped the bleeding and sent senior defensive specialist Erica King to the service line. King would score four straight points off of HCC hitting errors to put her team up 24-22. She was unable to finish the set off, however as a service error gave the ball back to Highland. After an ace serve tied the score, a tip-kill from sophomore Mikayla Siebert (Mackinaw) gave Lincoln another shot at set point. That’s when setter Jenna Weller delivered an ace serve of her own to win the set 26-24.
With renewed confidence after the set two, come-from-behind win, Lincoln was able to dominate play the rest of the match and win sets three and four by scores of 25-15 and 25-20. LC Coach Mark Tippett was happy with the results. “We were without two starters today, but the players who stepped in did a great job and kept us competitive in every rotation,” he said. “Both of the teams we played today were strong defensively and really made us work for every point. I was proud of our effort.”
On day two, Lincoln faced Frontier Community College in what would be the team’s final match this season against a Region 24 opponent. Frontier started off strong and took advantage of several Lincoln hitting errors and net violations to build an early lead. LC was unable to recover from their sloppy start in time to stop FCC from taking set one 25-20. In set two, Lincoln cleaned up their act and dominated play on their way to a 25-12 set win. The defeat in set two seemed to shake Frontier’s confidence and they were unable to recapture the momentum they had in set one. Poor passing and strong defensive work by the Lady Lynx led to two more routes as Lincoln took the next two sets 25-13 and 25-13. Lincoln finishes Region 24 play with a record of 4-4 and will likely be the fifth seeded team in the nine-team Region.
Middle hitters Elysa Smith (Metamora) and Cassidy Sanneman (Henry) each turned in strong performances in the win over Frontier. They recorded five kills apiece and combined for 16 total blocks.
LC’s final match of the event was a three set sweep of the College of DuPage (25-17, 25-21, 25-16). The most exciting portion of this match came in set two which saw Lincoln overcome a nine point deficit. The Lynx were trailing 20-11 when a side out gave setter Jenna Weller the serve. Weller delivered five straight to cut the lead to 20-17 before a COD side out. A quick kill from Mikalya Seibert off of a Weller set got the ball back for LC right away and sent freshman outside hitter Maddie Malinowski (Bloomington) behind the line. Malinowski would run of seven points in a row to finish off the set 25-21. During Malinowski’s streak of serves, she was aided by two kills from Seibert and one from Hoffert, but she took care of the final point herself by serving up an ace to win the set.
“We showed a lot of mental toughness this weekend,” said Coach Tippett. “In all four matches we played we encountered points where the other team challenged us and each time we responded by making the necessary adjustments and never lost confidence in ourselves. The ability to recover quickly when things are not going our way has been a real strength for this group and has made them a fun team to coach.”
Lincoln is off until Wednesday evening when they will host Illinois Valley Community College at 6:00 PM. Teams will wear pink in order to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness month.