By Phil Brozynski
Meghan Niski of Class 4A state champion St. Charles East and Lyons setter Alexis Viliunas are among the Best High School Playing Freshmen of 2008 according to a list recently released by Prepvolleyball.com.
Niski, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter, had 229 kills and 284 digs for the Saints and earned honorable mention all-Upstate Eight Conference honors.
"Meg worked hard every day in practice to make sure she was the best that she could be," St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. "She is a perfectionist, always wanting to do things the best. I am blessed to have her for three more years. She is a diamond."
The 6-foot-1 Viliunas started every match for the 28-12 Lions and earned all-tournament honors at Rich East. She finished the season with nearly 700 assists and added 126 digs, 22 aces and 82 kills.
Jenna Jacobson of Whitney Young, Michelle Schultz of Class 3A semifinalist (Chicago) Payton and 6-foot-2 middle hitter Abby Heise of downstate Jacksonville received highest honorable mention honors.
Jacobson, a 5-foot-8 setter, helped lead the Dolphins to the city championship game by amassing 682 assists, 211 digs, 58 aces and 64 kills. A 5-foot-8 outside hitter, Schultz had 138 kills, 207 digs and 67 aces for the 37-3 Grizzlies.
Named special mention were Amelia Anderson of Crystal Lake Central, Samantha Bedard of Breese Mater Dei, Emily Burger of Bloomington, Sam Espensa of Edwardsville and Maisey Mulvey of St. Charles East.
Also earning special mention honors were Brooke Schulte of Breese Mater Dei, Morgan Semmelhack of York and Jessie Tulacka of Downers Grove North.
Named honorable mention were Huntley's Amy Dixon, Batavia's Mary Nilles, Lake Zurich's Amanda Orchard, York's Caroline Rose and Lake Forest's Heidi Sierks,
Annemarie Hickey of Joliet Catholic and Jessica Jendryk of Benet were named honorable mention All-American by Volleyball Magazine.
Nebraska recruit Hannah Werth of Chatham Glenwood was the only Illinois player named to the 14-member All-American team.