By Pat Brozynski

Why did Joliet Catholic fall down?

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By Phil Brozynski

First of all, congratulations to Joliet Catholic on winning the Illinois High School Association Class 3A title.

But some people are wondering how the Angels could win a state championship and slip from No. 2 in the Sun-Times last regular-season poll to No. 4 in the final Sun-Times volleyball poll.

Blame the IHSA, St. Charles East and the math.

First of all, the Class 4A tournament field - top to bottom - was superior to the Class 3A field. The final four of Mother McAuley, Benet, St. Charles East and Evanston was significantly better than Burlington Central, Breese Mater Dei, Payton and Joliet Catholic.

It is hard to imagine, after watching the state finals, any of the three Class 3A semifinalists other than Joliet Catholic capable of beating Benet, Mother McAuley or St. Charles East.

So by winning the Class 4A title, regardless of the path they took to the championship game (and the IHSA contributed by steering the Saints clear of teams like Naperville Central, Naperville North and Downers Grove South), the Saints earned the final No. 1 ranking. What they did during the regular season does not affect their final ranking.

That left three teams for consideration for the next three poll positions. And that's where head-to-head meetings came into play.

Joliet Catholic lost to Mother McAuley in their only meeting (at Glenbard East). Benet beat McAuley in their only meeting (in the 4A semifinals). Benet and Joliet Catholic split. So in meetings among the three teams, Benet was 2-1, McAuley was 1-1 and Joliet Catholic was 1-2.

That's how Benet finished second, McAuley third and Joliet Catholic fourth in the final poll.

If Benet had won the 4A title, the final rankings would have been No. 1 Benet, No. 2 McAuley, No. 3 Joliet Catholic (still dropping one spot) and No. 4 St. Charles. If McAuley had won (and beaten Benet in the semifinals), Joliet Catholic would have remained No. 2.


You have to admire Sue Hayes' matter where they are.

During Friday's intense semifinal between Mother McAuley and Benet, the Mighty Macs' 5-foot-1 libero ran off the court prompting a brief pause in the match. Hayes looked at first if she was going to head up the tunnel exiting the arena.

Only the McAuley bench and a few close spectators knew what was ailing Hayes. But when she knelt in front of a bucket surrounded by teammates, it became apparent that intestinal distress has gotten the best of the 5-foot-1 senior.

After a few minutes, Hayes returned to the floor, waiving to the McAuley fans with a wide smile across her face.

"She was giving everything she had on the floor, and she left some in the bucket, too," McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said.


Apparently, the listed starting times for the state volleyball tournament are more like guidelines than actual rules.

Neither 9:30 a.m. match on Friday or Saturday started on time, and when Saturday's Class 1A third-place match went three games, the 1A title game was pushed back to 11:00 a.m. Then that match went three games.

By the time St. Edward took the court for a 11:30 a.m. scheduled start to the 2A third-place match, it was 1:25 p.m.

Saturday's headliner 4A title game between Benet and St. Charles East, scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m., did not begin until nearly 8:30 p.m. and did not finish until 9:50 p.m.

Of course, if you're a fan and you have to wait two, three hours before your team's game begins, you can always pass the time by visiting nearby scenic Towanda.


Quick. Can you find Ashland, Chandlerville or Prentice on a map? Or even know where to look? How about Blandinsville? Good Hope? Tennessee (the town not the state)? Greenup? Jewett? Dover? Leepertown? Pesotum? Sadorus? Fayetteville?

All those towns were represented by teams in the Illinois state volleyball tournament.


2009 favorites?

In Class 1A, Lanark Eastland returns sophomore setter Hope Linker, 6-1 sophomore middle Courtney Blair, 5-8 sophomore Katelyn Hasken and 5-9 junior outside Megan Bunyer.

In 2A, Freeburg loses setter Krystin Wahlig and libero Andrea Bolt, but welcomes back most of its offense including 6-2 middle Kayleigh Cox, outside Colleen Yarber, sophomore middle Chelsi Hummert and outside Sam Kassing.

Joliet Catholic and Annemarie Hickey and St. Francis with Kelsey Robinson figure to emerge as early favorites in 3A, but don't discount a return visit by Burlington Central with junior star Stephanie Holthus.

Also in 3A, Payton could return to Normal with 6-2 sophomore Mari Faines, sophomore libero Lauren Lee, freshman outside Michelle Schultz and sophomore setter Roxanne Rivera.

In Class 4A, McAuley welcomes back Jessica Falk, Jessica Galotta, tradition and fiercely stubborn determination, St. Charles returns Meghan and Caroline Niski, Jacqui Seidel, Maisey Mulvey and 6-2 sophomore Olivia Desormey, and Evanston returns outsides Ali Gossen and Megan McCareins.

But another team to watch is Naperville North, which returns a powerful front line of Sidney Sauter, Kaia Schwartz and Audrey Wilson.

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Hey Phil: thanks for your coverage during an exciting girls volleyball season. It was a fun year to say the least! Just 1 comment though on your final rankings…how about some love for the York Lady Dukes!

30-8 Record
Undefeated Conference Champs – West Suburban Silver (includes “others ranked” Hinsdale and LT)
Sweet 16 and Sectional Finalist…lost to #1 (38-4) St Charles East
Won at #10 (30-11) Evanston (2-0)
Won at (29-9) Downers Grove South (2-0)
Beat (30-8) Geneva in Sectional Semi (2-0)
Split matches with (28-9) Hinsdale Central
Beat (28-11) Lyons 2 out of 3 matches this season
Lost to (30-5) Lemont twice in 3 game matches (LT Quad Finals and Benet Tourney Semis…the same day they took Benet to 3)
Lost to #2 (40-2) Benet

Just something to consider since teams that we beat like Evanston, DGS, Geneva, and conference opponents Hinsdale and LT made the list. Thanks again for a great year! I really enjoyed your coverage.


To say it does not matter what happened during the season and that the winner of 4A is the number 1 team is little silly. Of the top 4 teams in meetings against each other JCA is 3-2 Benet is 2-2 McAuley is 1-1 & St. Carles East is 1-2.

I think the results against St Charles East should also be included in the math. Joliet Catholic pounded them twice late in the season. That would make them 3-2, Benet 2-2, McAuley 1-1, and St Charles East 1-2, so the match doesnt necessarily work that well. With that being said, I don't have a problem with St Charles being 1, but I don't think that Joliet Catholic should have fell from their 2 spot. Either way, Phil, thanks for your great coverage of volleyball all season long.

That was not a good morning for York but I'm sure all of the "special mention" teams listed went through similiar days. It was great to see the team bounce back very strong in the tourney.

Phil, Good job on your articles this year. I was very impressed with your final ranking,I felt you hit it right on. What most people don't understand, you were personally there watching most or all the tough matches this year,whether they were conference games, tough tournament games or the tough sectionals/ supersectionals. There are not to many unbiased writers out there left, keep up the good work.

Phil: Check out John Tawa's comment and rankings on Enough said, except if you think he's "biased" too. Your math does not compute. The only thing that should matter are the final four teams in 4A and 3A. JCA beat St. Charles East twice and split with Benet. St. Charles East beat Benet. McAuley lost to Benet. And all of those teams play tough schedules. Sure, Benet plays the toughest schedule and had the toughest road, but they lost in the final. If they win, they definitely deserve No. 1. But losing, it should have been JCA, St. Charles East, Benet and McAuley. Just like John Tawa has it.

What you do during the regular season should not have any kind of effect of what happens at the end of the year (end of the season rankings). That's why you play the regular season... to prepare for the postseason... We are okay with taking a "L" during the season. It helps us prepare for the road ahead of us. Some teams just dominate the regular season, because they have the players to do so. Some teams have take losses for them to get better at the end.

Phil- I think you do a great job throughout the chicagoland covering volleyball.

I think you should have Lyons Township on your list of teams to watch for next year. The two players that played all the way around were two freshman, 6'1" setter Alexis Viliunas who was named to the Rich Each All-Tournament team and Laura Williams (5'10" OH) who was second on the team in aces, digs, kills and assists. Both Viliunas and Williams made honorable mention All-Area (Suburban Life) Another freshman, Megan Miller played DS. Other key players / starters returning are 6'2" sophomore Jocelyn Birks (RS and OH), Juniors Mo Stroka (RS/OH), Junior Katie Bazzoni (MH), Junior Tiffany Vazquez (MH), Junior Jamie Lundstrom (Libero) and junior Julie Karas (DS/OH). This team beat some great teams this year including York, Evanstan, and Downers South. While they lost at the end of the season to Mother McAuley, most of their other loses were earlier in the season (Lemont, York, Hinsdale). The LT sophomore team only had one loss during the season and will bring even more skills to varsity next year. This team was in the Elite Eight and will be working hard to better that finish next year.

I would also agree that York will be a force next year. They also had two freshman that started on varsity (Caroline Rose (OH) and Morgan Semmelhack (MH). In addition, they had another freshman that set the sophomore team who is awesome (Katie Gallagher). Most of us couldn't figure out why she didn't set the varsity this year. Lauren Zerante will continue to be a force next year and with the younger Deastch entering York as a Freshman next year, they will be a big force.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on November 17, 2008 10:00 PM.

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