Ironically, Morton College's reversal of fortunes in the early part of the women's volleyball conference season came thanks to a referee reversing a line judge's call in the final set of the Panthers' 16-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22, 17-15 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference victory September 17 at Prairie State.
The Panthers looked like they were going to be facing match point at 14-12. However, the referee overturned the line judge's ruling to whether the ball was in or out. That took away a point from Prairie State and tied the game at 13.
"I know Prairie State wasn't happy with it, but it was the right call," Morton College women's volleyball coach Tom Malesky said.
The win was important to Morton College on a number of different fronts. It enabled the Panthers (6-10 overall) to surpass last year's overall win total of five. On the conference side, it moved Morton College to 2-0, matching the Panther win total in conference play the last three years.
Going into the match, Malesky figured Morton College and the Pioneers were evenly matched. The two went to three at last month's South Suburban Tournament with the Panthers prevailing in the final set, 16-14.
The third set was tied at 23 when back-to-back errors by Morton College gave Prairie State a 2-1 advantage.
"I thought losing that third set would hurt us, but it didn't," Malesky said. "We didn't play poorly; we just needed to eliminate the unforced errors."
Malesky said it was difficult to select a match MVP. The Panthers featured an extremely balanced attack with Cassie Tijerina (15 kills, 22 digs, block), Melissa Villafuerte (12 kills, 29 digs, 2 aces), Patrice Silas (9 kills, 2 blocks, ace), Yasmin Lopez (8 kills), Marlene Valadez (7 kills, 5 blocks, 20 digs) and Samantha Rule (47 assists) leading the way.
"After the first set, what a difference," Malesky said. "We showed a lot of heart and played with a lot of energy. It was a good match to watch. We showed a lot of character. We talked about taking a step forward today and we did."
Morton College scored all its goals in the first 20 minutes of a 3-1 Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference win September 17 at Lake County.
The win moved the Panthers to 5-2-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the Illinois Skyway. Ramon Gutierrez jump started the Panthers with a goal at the 8th minute. He was followed by Alexis Monteon (16th minute) and Sergio Otalora (20th minute). Farai Tsingano assisted on Gutierrez's goal, while Julio Pedroza notched a pair of assists.
"Lake County has a good team, but we were able to get off to a good start," Morton College men's soccer coach Juan Franco said. "We were consistent throughout the match."
Franco was happy with the contributions of Tsingano and Carlos Leon on defense, and Juan Salgado, Pedroza and Daniel Hernandez in the midfield.
The Panthers were coming off a 2-1 non-conference at home to Owens of Ohio September 14.
"The good part about that it was a non-conference game," Franco said. "It allowed us to come up with solutions to things we needed to work on."
Morton College hosts Oakton at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 19, at Antonio Carbajal Soccer Field, 32nd Street and Central Avenue, Cicero. The Skyway match was rescheduled from September 11 because of a heat advisory in the area.
The Panthers haven't beat Oakton since 2007.
"Oakton is a big game for us," Franco said. "We'll be at home and hopefully, we'll have a good result."
Morton College, the top-ranked team in Region IV, played Moraine Valley to a 1-1 double-overtime tie September 17 in Cicero. The Panthers are 3-0-1, both overall and in the Illinois Skyway.