Harper sophomore volleyball player Veronica Dabrowski (Mount Prospect, Ill./Rolling Meadows) possesses all the attributes of a volleyball player. She's tall, strong, mobile, coordinated, skilled, experienced, coachable, smart and possesses a great vertical jump.
As Dabrowski is playing the final stretch of her Harper volleyball career, she continues to show off her repertoire of skills while being an exemplary teammate. Dabrowski is at or near the top of several NJCAA statistical reasons and has been named the sixth Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.
A natural outside hitter, Dabrowski has played middle hitter for much of the year because the Hawks had a need at the position.
"Clearly, she is playing not only for herself, but for the team's success," said Harper head coach Bob Vilsoet. "She puts the team's goals above her own goals and has elevated our team to be able to defeat other very strong teams such as D1 Kaskaskia and D1 John A. Logan."
She has improved majorly in her two years with the Hawks, becoming a well-rounded player with her hard-hitting, smart tipping and blocking and two lethal types of serves -- a booming jump serve with topspin and a jump-float that can hit all spots on the opponents' court.
Vilsoet's confidence in her is apparent, as she leads the nation in matches played (46) and sets (151), sitting out only seven sets this year. She is third in the nation in total kills (427) and total attacks (1138) and is also fourth in the NJCAA with 94.5 blocks. Her hitting efficiency, which was 21.5% in 2012, is at 24.3% in 2013. Finally, Dabrowski ranks second in the NJCAA for with 584.5 points, a stat that combines kills, blocks and aces.
While her stats have been off the charts in the 2013 season, Dabrowski brings more to her team than what a box score shows.
"She is friends with everyone on the team. She makes everyone around her feel at ease," Vilsoet said. "She laughs with the rest of the team, keeping us all in a good frame of mind. She is part of a team dynamic that is just outstanding."
Dabrowski thinks her team has come a long way from its 12-14 start to the season. Since that point, the Hawks have gone 15-6 and are ranked No. 5 in the nation.
"We struggled with consistency early on. However, we are a lot more consistent now, and it's exciting to see the improvement," she said.
The team that will likely stand in the way on the Hawks' path to nationals is No. 1 Madison College. The WolfPack is 28-3 and has won 15 matches in a row. The Hawks have come up short in all three matches against Madison this season. Vilsoet believes if Dabrowski plays well, Harper has a strong chance of finally knocking off Madison.
Dabrowski will get her Associate in Science degree in May and most likely move on to the University of Illinois in the fall of 2014. She has strong family ties to U of I, as her older brother and sister both graduated from there. She plans to major in kinesiology and would someday like to work in health care. Dabrowski is exploring the fields of physical therapy and sports medicine to see what she'd like to focus on.
As for her volleyball career, Vilsoet believes Dabrowski could play at many four-year schools and offered his insight on U of I.
"If she makes the U of I team, that would be a dream fulfilled. But if she plays club volleyball there, that will satisfy her, too," Vilsoet said.
While Dabrowski isn't actively pursuing other four-year schools as possible destinations to continue her volleyball career, she said she wouldn't rule it out if the opportunity seemed promising.
"It sounds very appealing, and I would definitely consider it and think it's an option," she said.
When she leaves Harper, Vilsoet knows Dabrowski and her fellow sophomores will be tough to replace.
"Veronica is part of the best sophomore leadership we've had here to date," he said. "When the sophomores graduate, there will be a major hole in our team to fill with new players."