Mohawk seniors take it home

SYCAMORE – For the seven Mohawk senior volleyball players, many memories have already been made in the school gymnasium.

The banners on the wall are the reminders of all that’s already been accomplished. Three sectional titles, two district titles, a Midland Athletic League championship in 2012 and the program’s first trip to state.

Thursday, the group of seven seniors added one more memory.

On senior night, Mohawk fought off three game points to win a thrilling first game against Calvert, and with the seniors leading the way, Mohawk took the match in four, 27-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19.

“It’s a bittersweet kind of thing,” Julie Adelsperger said. “It’s our last game, but it was a really good win.”

“It’s all bittersweet. It’s good, I’m glad we got the victory,” senior libero Taylor McClain added. “It’s tears of joy right now. I’m going to miss the girls; I wouldn’t change any person on that team for anything. They all, no matter what, give everything. I just look at everyone and know I can believe in them.”

Mohawk coach Eric Hoover said after the win, the match was big not only to send the seniors out on a strong note, but to keep Mohawk alive in the race for its second-straight league title.

“We needed that to keep our hopes alive for a chance to share in the league,” Hoover said. “Obviously it’s a big rivalry on top of that. Unfortunately, with all the leagues changing, it’s probably the last time we’re going to play them for a long time. That’s how it goes. It was a lot of fun. It was a great win, way to go out for our seniors in our last home game.”

Three of the seven Mohawk seniors come from one family. Julie, Kasey and Clara Adelsperger combined for 56 kills. Kasey led everyone with 30 kills and Julie added 21. Clara set up her sisters with 53 assists, but also added five kills of her own.

Calvert coach Greg Hendrix said his team had problems stopping the Adelspergers at the net, but a lot of that was due to the play of Mohawk’s back row.

“The Adelspergers did a great job of hitting tonight, but what really got them going was their back row was putting everything right to the target,” Hendrix said. “They were just consistent the entire night. Even when we had pressure on them, their back row was making miraculous passes right to the target. They just wanted it more than we did tonight.”

The first game was tied 10 times. Kasey Adelsperger had nine kills in the game alone. Julie had seven in the game, as did Calvert’s Meridith Lucius.

Lucius led Calvert with 18 kills on the night.

The Senecas had a 21-18 lead, and got to game point on three occasions, but each time Mohawk rose to the challenge. The Warriors, finally surged ahead 26-25 and put the game away on their first chance at game point, when McClain came up with a diving dig and senior Aubrie Flood slammed down the game-winning kill.

“We made a run at the right time,” Hoover said. “It was back and forth the whole first set. … We were able to come back and make big plays at the end of the game to get the win.”

“It really set the tone,” McClain added, who had a team-high 20 digs. “If you go out there and you give everything you have, then right there, that shows in the first game, if we do it then, we know we’ll be able to do it the rest of the game.”

Hendrix said his team tried to rally, but losing such a close first game had its effect.

“We tried to blow it off and come back out that second set,” he said. “We knew we could play with them, but it was a backbreaker losing that first game when we had two, three game points on it. You got to put them away. You got to step up and you got to want it. Tonight Mohawk wanted it more than we did.”

Kasey and Julie Adelsperger were at it again in the second game combining for 13 kills as the Warriors never trailed.

“We just knew they had big blockers. We saw they weren’t covering the lines. That was our area we were aiming to and also the middle and the front corners were wide open,” Julie Adelsperger said of the hitting strategy. “That’s what we were aiming for.”

With its back against the wall, Calvert rallied to win game three, but Mohawk gained separation early in the game after three consecutive aces from MacKenzie Sowers. Kasey Adelsperger had 10 kills what turned out to be the deciding game.

The loss was Calvert’s first in the MAL. Calvert (15-5) and Mohawk (16-3) sit tied for second with 8-1 league marks behind unbeaten New Riegel. Calvert will play New Riegel Tuesday, a Seneca win would create a three-way tie atop the league.

But Hendrix said his team has some searching do before it takes the floor again.

“We’ve got some kids that got to do some soul searching after that game,” he said. “Mohawk read the defense well and exposed a weakness of ours and we got some kids that got to decide whether or not they’re going to shore it up because, if you don’t play defense, you can’t win in this league. Mohawk seen a weakness and went after it. Now I got a couple kids that got to figure out what their problem is and sort it out.”