MATTOON — The Lake Land volleyball team has two things working in its favor going into the Region 24 tournament that starts on Friday. First, the Lady Lakers are playing some of its best volleyball as it heads into the tournament after winning three of their last five matches. Second, Lake Land is hosting the Region 24 tournament.
Lake Land comes into the tournament with a 15-23 record and finished 4-6 in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference. The Lady Lakers fell to Southwestern Illinois in five sets on Wednesday, but SWIC was second in the GRAC and SWIC swept Lake Land earlier in the season.
"(Wednesday) was a good match to get us excited for the regions. We needed some momentum and it sparked some energy for us," Lake Land coach Ashli Robison said. "I think the girls are ready and it's nice to be hosting. We will take that advantage. It's ironic it happened this way because we were the number one seed last year at John A. Logan and John A. Logan is the number one seed this year. We are hoping to get some revenge after last year and hoping to get good crowds since it's at home."
There will be two matches in the tournament. Lake Land hosts Kaskaskia in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday and the winner faces John A. Logan at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the Region 24 championship match.
Lake Land might be playing its best volleyball of the season coming into the tournament. Out of the three wins Lake Land has in the past five matches, one of them was against 11th-ranked McHenry County College.
"We definitely peaked when we knocked off McHenry. We are still focusing on the mental game, but I think we are ready," Robison said. "We had a good weekend off to be able to take some time off and focus on the most important part of the season. Everyone is piecing it together well."
It's been a mixed bag for Lake Land against Kaskaskia College this season. The two teams faced for the first time this season on Aug. 30 and Kaskaskia won 3-1. Over a month later, the two teams faced again and it was a completely different outcome as Lake Land swept Kaskaskia at Laker Fieldhouse, the site of Friday's match.
Kaskaskia finished the regular season with a 19-11 overall record and were 6-4 in the GRAC.
"Honestly, it's a coin flip and I hope the girls can come out strong at home," Robison said. "We swept them at home and hopefully we can come out and take control of the match right away. The first time we played them, it was early season jitters. They will be out for us. It will be a good match to watch."
The winner gets John A. Logan at 1 p.m. on Saturday and the Lady Vols come in as the clear No. 1 seed. John A. Logan went 18-10 overall and were 9-1 in the GRAC. John A. Logan won both matches against Lake Land this season. The first one was a sweep. The second time, Lake Land won a set against John A. Logan, but still lost 3-1. The Lady Vols won both matches against Kaskaskia.
"They are solid. They are definitely someone that we can beat," Robison said. "They always have great athletes and have amazing ball control. I think we matchup pretty well against them. They run a 5-1 and they do a pretty good job with that. If we get that far, I think it will be a great match."