By Phil Brozynski
The Illinois High School Association conducted its fall sports "rolling of the peas" Friday at IHSA headquarters in Bloomington. The result?
In Class 4A, if the projected top-seeded teams in each supersectional advance to the state semifinals, the matchups at Redbird Arena could look something like this: Evanston/Hersey vs. St. Charles East, and Downers Grove South/Benet/Naperville Central vs. Mother McAuley.
In Class 3A, the survivor of the Oswego supersectional featuring Joliet Catholic, Lemont and St. Francis would take on Belleville Althoff in one semifinal, while the other could feature Freeport vs. Marian Central.
Draw your own conclusions.
Six Illinois teams remain among the top 50 in John Tawa's PrepVolleyball.com national poll released earlier last week.
Benet, the top team in the Chicago area, remained No. 4 and Downers Grove South, seventh in the preseason poll, remained at No. 7, Naperville Central, despite remaining unbeaten, dropped one spot to 15.
Belleville Althoff, ranked 46th in the preseason poll, moved up to No. 29, Mother McAuley dropped seven spots to No. 44, and St. Charles East, a bubble team in the preseason, came in at No. 45.
Bloomington, Edwardsville, Joliet Catholic, Lemont, Naperville North and St. Francis were among the teams "On the verge."
The most impressive players at Prairie Ridge Saturday?
Naperville Central's Emily McGee and Megan Bray; St. Charles East's Jacqui Seidel and Caroline Niski; Cary-Grove's Allison Strauman and Kelly Lamberti (has anyone clocked her serve?); and Prairie Ridge's Sondra Parys and Taylor Brauneis.
Other observations from Prairie Ridge?
Naperville Central's Jill Fields drew comparisons to Sun-Times 2006 Player of the Year Lindsay Mango. The Redhawks' Mary Carroll is a better-than-adequate third option. And Barrington's athletic 6-foot junior Emily Harris has an unlimited ceiling.
Monday's rankings did not reflect St. Francis' performance at the Crossroads Classic hosted by Effingham, which, depending upon one's viewpoint, could have been a good thing or a bad thing.
The Spartans (12-2) squandered a 24-20 lead in the second game of their championship match against nationally-ranked and unbeaten Belleville Althoff (9-0), eventually losing 14-25, 26-24, 25-20.
However, for a team that was throught too young and too inexperienced -- particularly following last year's mass exodus due to gradation -- to contend for the state's 3A title, St. Francis proved a lot of folks wrong.
If the two teams do meet again, it would be in the state semifinals.