Girls Volleyball: Harvest Christian falls short of state semis againHarvest Christian Academy Head Coach Kim Floyd talks to her team during the Class 1A Eastland volleyball super-sectional in Lanark on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. | Dave Manley~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2012 9:10PM
To Harvest Christian’s credit, there was no whining.
There could have been some, because losing to a team that has a key 6-foot-3 player allowed by the IHSA to start her season competing at the sectional level after transfering to a private school from a public school always invites plenty of questions. But after Harvest Christian suffered a season-ending 18-25, 25-19, 25-18 defeat at the hands of Keith Country Day in the Lanark Class 1A Supersectional, failing to take the last step to the state semifinals for the second straight year, the Lions players and coach Kim Floyd looked only at themselves for blame.
“I don’t even think it was that big of a difference for us,” star middle Sydney Doby said about facing 6-foot-3 transfer Adeja Lambert.
Harvest beat Keith Country Day twice, and once convincingly, before it had Lambert, who came from Rockford Guilford and was allowed by the state to begin play in the sectional. She played for Club Fusion and has committed to play at Michigan on scholarship.
“Things were slightly different against them this time,” Doby said. “There were different (hitting) openings and stuff. I just don’t think we had the smartest game. I don’t think it was really her.”
The stage seemed set for the Lions to win and possibly take state because they had won the first two matchups with Keith.
“That’s the disappointment,” coach Floyd said. “We came in here wanting to win last time (in 2011) but we didn’t really know that’s what was going to happen. This time, losing was not an option.
“We prepared as much as we can prepare and they outhit us, outdug us, outplayed us all around.”
The defeat couldn’t diminish a second straight strong season for the tiny, 104-student school on Elgin’s far west side, which is located in the former Safety-Kleen building. The Lions went 31-6 and won a Northeast Athletic Conference title in their first year of competition within that league, then took their second straight regional and sectional in their first two years of IHSA play.
When the 2011 team finished its season, there had been uncertainty in players’ minds about whether they could have another run to the supersectional.
“Last year we lost a couple of seniors and had no clue who would fill the spots,” Doby said.
Instead, the Lions came up with a couple players who attended the church but were not students at the school. Senior all-around player Jordan Sollars and junior outside Chloe Corbett transferred in and made a huge difference in the team’s success.
“We knew Jordan from our club play but Chloe was literally out of the blue,” Doby said.
Sollars went on to finish second on the team with 253 kills while Doby led the way with 267 kills, 87 blocks and 101 aces.
It’s possible the Lions were a bit betrayed by their schedule this year, which was easier than last season when they played a handful of 4A teams and several 3A teams. There wasn’t room for as many bigger schools with a conference schedule and conference tournament — which included some matches against vastly inferior teams.
However, the Lions appeared poised for the run to state. Their path in the sectional and regional included only one real test against Westminster, and they’d already handled the Warriors twice. It may have been a factor when they suddenly faced a much stronger opponent in supersectionals.
Now they’ll go back to rebuild around Doby, who is a college prospect. The team will lose Erica Manusos, setter Katelyn Floyd, Sollars, and senior middle Sarah Kott. Doby, Ashlyn Floyd, and Shayna Manusos will be back at Elgin’s Top Flight volleyball club working on their games to try for another run next year.
It will be more difficult to make another run or win a conference title because Iman McGary, the outside hitter whose 13 kills proved a big part of Keith’s offense, will be only a junior next year and the 6-3 Lambert will be a senior.
“You want to play the best to be the best,” Kim Floyd said.
They’ll have to be at their best in 2013.