The Harper College women's volleyball team won the Region IV tournament title a couple of weekends ago, which puts the Hawks into position to defend their NJCAA championship this weekend in Rochester, Minn.
The Hawks, ranked No. 1 in the country, needed to defeat No. 2 Madison Area Technical College to win the regional.
"Madison played well," Harper coach Bob Vilsoet said. "They proved they will have a good team next year."
Getting past Madison was a relief for the 35-5 Hawks, and Harper is the No. 1 seed in the national tourney. First up at nationals is a Friday matchup against No. 8 seed Queensborough (N.Y.) -- the same foe Harper defeated in last year's quarterfinals.
"That's a game you cant be overconfident about," Vilsoet said.
The Tigers (22-4), winners of the Region XV tournament, have lost twice since Oct. 5. And unlike last season, when Queensborough had a veteran-laden squad, it features only three sophomores this year.
If Harper wins the quarterfinal, its semifinal could be a rematch of an Oct. 6 matchup played in Springfield against No. 4 seed Columbus State (Ohio) Community College.
Vilsoet expects a different level of intensity if that matchup materializes, and he also thinks St. Cloud Tech (Minn.) is a tough team.
The Hawks defeated Central Lakes College (Minn.) in last year's championship match. The Raiders are seeded third this time around, with Eastfield (Texas) at No 2.
The national champion will be decided in a matchup at 4 p.m. Saturday.