By Phil Brozynski
The burning question is not who is going to be good this fall - the usual suspects like Naperville Central, Mother McAuley, Benet and Downers Grove South are among the easier choices. The question is, who's going to be good in 2010?
Based on the success that many sophomores-to-be enjoyed on the club circuit this summer, the answer is: a lot of teams.
Three members of the Sports Performance 15-Frosh team earned All-Star honors at the AAU Junior National Championships in Orlando earlier this summer. The trio was led by Hinsdale Central's 5-foot-8 defensive whiz Natalia Skiba.
"I think Natalia is going to make a huge impact as a sophomore," said Sports Performance 15-Frosh coach Amanda DeGrandis. "She is a defensive specialist with incredible ball control, but she'll also probably do a little bit of hitting."
Skiba was among a handful of area freshmen who appeared on their school's varsity roster during the 2007 season.
"It's exciting to think how many great opportunities are ahead of her," DeGrandis said.
The other two All-Stars were Benet's Kathleen Severyn and Waubonsie Valley's Martha Stewart. Severyn will find it tough to crack the varsity lineup at Benet, but DeGrandis expects big things from the 5-10 hitter in the future.
Other members of the Sports Performance 15-Frosh team - which finished second in the Club Divisions at the JVDA and AAU national championships - are Naperville Central's Chloe Lupina and Katie Battle, Laurie Duncan of St. Francis and Jenna Eisses of Waubonsie Valley.
Rounding out the roster are Sarah Hasselhorst of Naperville North, 5-11 setter Lindsay Juriga of Rosary and Ashley Veselik of Benet.
"Severyn is going to have a big impact on whichever team she plays on, and Juriga will be an outstanding setter in a 6-2 offense at Rosary," DeGrandis said.
The Sports Performance 15 Elite team tied for fifth at the JVDA championships in Louisville and placed 14th in the Open Division at the AAU championships. That team included St. Francis' Meg Vonderhaar, a JVDA all-tournament selection, and Hinsdale Central's Jamie Netisingha.
However, Sports Performance did not have a monopoly on talented sophomores-to-be during the just-concluded club season. Sky High 15 Black tied for fifth place at both the JVDA and AAU championships.
Among the top performers for Sky High 15 Black was Cary-Grove's 5-11 sophomore-to-be Kelly Lamberti, who was named to the AAU All-American team. Lamberti already has a year of varsity volleyball on her resume and only figures to get better during the 2008 high school season.
Lamberti's Sky High 15 Black teammates included libero Kelsey Nobilio and outside Carly Schmidt of Johnsburg and 6-4 outside hitter Ellen Chapman of Glenbrook South, the latter representing Sky High on the all-tournament team.
Meanwhile, Sky High 15 Red finished fifth in the Club Division in Orlando. New Trier's Cami Beghou and Woodstock setter Christie Jacobson are joined by three players apiece from Marian Central and Cary-Grove on the Sky High 15 Red roster.
Kristin Brocker, Shelby Cassesse and Erica Kadl should be building blocks for future Marian Central teams, while Krista Schott, Sam Mainzer and Allison Whimpey hope to power future Fox Valley contenders at Cary-Grove.
Other sophomores to watch include St. Edward's 5-6 defender Margie Haggenjos, Wheaton Academy outside Molly McCoy and 6-1 middle Maureen Johnson of Crystal Lake South, who helped Club Fusion 15 Black tie for seventh in the Open Division in Louisville.
Five-11 setter/opposite hitter Madison Lang of Barrington and St. Charles East's 5-11 Michelle Gross were among the top players for Fusion 15 White, which tied for fifth place in the Club Division at the JVDA championships.