CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Carl Sandburg College volleyball team got off to a solid start, but Lincoln Land went on to hand the Chargers a 25-18, 25-13, 25-15 loss Thursday in the first round of the NJCAA Division II Championship.
Sandburg (25-15), making its first appearance at nationals in program history, will face Northeast (Neb.), which lost its opening match to Sauk Valley in five sets, at 11 a.m. Friday in the ninth-place bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
The 13th-seeded Chargers (25-15) had an early 7-6 lead in the first set before the fourth-seeded Loggers (35-6) took the next five points for an 11-7 advantage. Sandburg got within 18-15 on a tip from Jordan Price (Fulton, Ill./Fulton), but Lincoln Land, last year’s runner-up, responded with five of the next six points.
“We were looking pretty good early and then hit a rough patch, and things started to snowball on us a little bit,” Chargers coach Todd Winkler said. “We didn’t play our best, and that’s the toughest thing to swallow right now. Everybody was relaxed and feeling great coming in, so I think we were all a little surprised at how we played today.”
The Loggers scored six straight to open the second set. A kill and an ace from Hannah Thompson (Blandinsville, Ill./West Prairie) brought Sandburg’s deficit to 16-8, but Lincoln Land answered again with a five-point run.
A Josalyn Owens (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln) kill and Sam Mayberry (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) block brought the Chargers to within 14-8 in the third, but the Loggers pulled away by taking eight of the next 10 points.
“We had some bright spots today, but at this tournament you have to be sharp from start to finish,” Winkler said. “We’re confident that we can come back tomorrow and show everyone what our best volleyball looks like.”