By Phil Brozynski
Illinois high school volleyball said goodbye to a great coach and an ever better person when Belleville Althoff coach Kathy Wuller recently announced she was stepping down.
Wuller coach the Crusaders to nearly 400 victories in her 13 years at the school including a second-place state finish in 1999, third-place finishes in 2001 and 2004 and fourth-place finishes in 2003 and 2007.
Althoff was an annual fixture in the Chicago area, competing in the Rich East tournament and the St. Charles East Mizuno Scholastic Cup. The Crusaders finished third at St. Charles East under Wuller in 2007.
The Crusaders were touted as a national-title contender prior to this season thanks to the presence of U.S. Youth National Team setter Carly Thomas and middle hitter Carly Marcum. But Althoff had trouble living up to the hype.
Althoff won 30 games this year, but suffered a 25-8, 25-11 loss to Mother McAuley at the Rich East tournament and was eliminated from the 2008 Class 3A state tournament in the sectional semifinals by Breese Mater Dei, a team it had beaten twice earlier in the season.
Benet's Jessica Jendryk and Chatham Glenwood's Hannah Werth were among 24 players from throughout the nation named to the 2008-2009 Under Armour All-American High School Volleyball Team.
Each of the 24 players on the first team will be invited to play in the inaugural Under Armour All-American Volleyball Match and Skills Competition scheduled for December 21 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Jendryk, who led the Redwings to second place at the recently-concluded Illinois High School Association Class 4A state tournament, is headed to Illinois next fall. Werth, a 6-1 outside hitter, is committed to Nebraska.
Werth's high school coach, Larry Sample, also announced his resignation recently. Sample exited with a career record of 672-150 including an 84-29 record in three years at Chatham Glenwood. He coached at Jacksonville previously.
Sample, Werth and the Titans went 28-9 this season, losing to Champaign Centennial in the semifinals of the Class 3A Mt. Zion sectional.
Finally, girls volleyball will miss Lincoln-Way Central coach Joann Holverson, who announced recently she was giving up coaching the Knights' girls volleyball team. Holverson will remain as Lincoln-Way Central's boys' coach.
Holverson is the only coach in Illinois history to lead the same school (Sandburg) to state titles in both girls (1998) and boys volleyball (1999) in the same school year.
Holverson leaves girls volleyball after a 20-year career as a head coach at Thornwood, Sandburg and Lincoln-Way Central. Her career record in girls volleyball is 424-293.
She could easily equal if not eclipse that mark as a boys coach if she continues until she is eligible to retire in four years. Holverson is 339-109 coaching the guys.