When the Cyclones needed them most, the sophomores stepped up and helped finish the regular season on high notes.

Through all the ups and downs, Moraine Valley ended the regular season ranked second in the district. The team’s overall 14-13 record and 3-2 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference record is not indicative of the improvements made and the efforts of some athletes.

With a number of freshmen middles and right side hitters, the setters relied early in the season on sophomores Kelly Lind (Richards) and Heather Fane (Stagg), who took on leadership roles. “As with any team, it takes a while for a new hitter to adjust and connect with a setter. Heather’s defense improved immensely from last year, and Kelly scored so many points for us by being a smart, strategic hitter. They both really matured as players,” said second-year Cyclone head Coach Lauren Lorenz.

Jessica Gavras (Oak Lawn) also was a key player throughout the year and kept the Cyclones in matches with her quick defensive reactions. By season’s end, she ranked No. 9 in digs per set (6.5) in NJCAA Division II and was named to the All-Region and All-Conference first teams. “Passers don’t always get enough credit, but she has been an integral part of our team for the last two years. She really commanded the back court and excelled in her position,” Lorenz said.

Colleen Corbett (Queen of Peace) came in as a transfer sophomore and made an instant impact. Teammates looked to her and her positive energy and demeanor on the court to get through tough matches. “As a setter, she improved her decision-making and became extremely successful at attacking the second ball,” Lorenz said. “She was a huge part of our program this year.”

Throughout the season, various injuries sidelined players, making it a challenge to solidify team rhythm. The moments of strength and weakness unbalanced the Cyclones as they lost some games they shouldn’t have. However, newcomer Elizabeth Coffey (Peotone) blossomed mid-season becoming one of the Cyclones’ go-to hitters. That effort was recognized as she was ranked No. 34 nationally for blocks per set (1.2) and was named to the All-Region team. “The start of the season was a little difficult for her because we ran a much faster paced offense than what she was used to, but she took it day by day and ended up being ranked nationally,” Lorenz said.

Corbett joined Coffey and Gavras on the All-Region team. Kazune Hinomoto (Japan) earned a nod to the All-Conference first team while Fane and Lind were named to the All-Conference second team.

“I think this year had its ups and downs. We lost some matches we shouldn’t have lost because we struggled to finish. Individually, I think every player improved, we just couldn’t always put it together on the court. I think it was a great introductory year for our freshmen/middles. They know what [assistant Coach] Carly [Trinley] and I expect from them and what kind of work they need to put in. After this season, they are in a great position to be extremely successful next year,” Lorenz said. “We only have three returning next year, so it will be a completely different team. I’m hoping to see our returners step up as leaders on and off the court like our captains did this year.”