By Pat Brozynski

The "Fab 56" tip off the 2009 season

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By Phil Brozynski

The beginning of the girls volleyball season is less than a month away, so it's time to start throwing out some names of the nominees to crack the Chicago Sun-Times Top 50 Girls Volleyball Players list which will come out later this month.

Here's half (OK, slightly less) of the list of 113 players vying for the Top 50 (in alphabetical order):

Katie Aiyello, 5-5, So., L, St. Edward
Amelia Anderson, So., 5-11, OH, Crystal Lake Central
Lindsay Anderson, 6-1, Sr., MH, Crystal Lake Central
Kelsey Augustine, 6-1, Sr., MH, Geneva
Kylee Baker, 6-0, Sr., OH, Plainfield North
Cami Beghou, 5-11, Jr., OH, New Trier
Taylor Brauneis, 5-11, Sr., S, Prairie Ridge
Jenny Buczek, 5-10, Jr., OH, Sandburg
Hannah Burkle, 6-2, Jr., MH, Crystal Lake South
Colleen Brennan, 5-10, Sr., S, Glenbrook South
Ellen Carberry, 5-9, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Ellen Chapman, 6-5, Jr., MH, Glenbrook South
Julia Conard, 5-10, So. OH, West Chicago
Chelsea Cunningham, 6-0, Jr., MB, Whitney Young
Casey D'Ambrose, 5-10, Sr., S, Addison Trail
Victoria Day, 5-8, So., OH, Prairie Ridge
Sarah Dent, 5-8, Jr., OH, Von Steuben
Olivia Desormey, 6-0, Jr., MB, St. Charles East
Amy Dion, 5-5, So., L, Huntley
Danielle Donahue, 5-6, Sr., L, Lockport
Mari Faines, 6-2, Jr., MB, Payton
Jessica Falk, 5-9, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Nikki Federico, 5-11, Sr., OH, Neuqua Valley
Gina Finke, 6-0, Sr., OH, Benet
Natalie Fiore, 5-11, Jr., S, Oak Forest
Alexandra Funk, 5-10, Jr., OH, Lake Forest
Katie Gallagher, 5-8, So., S, York
Jessica Galotta, 5-10, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Abby Gilleland, 5-10, So., S, Marian Central
Alexandra Gossen, 6-0, Sr., OH, Evanston
Mary Grassano, 5-5, So., L, St. Ignatius
Emily Harris, 6-0, Sr., OH, Barrington
Abbey Heredia, 5-8, Sr., S, Cary-Grove
Annemarie Hickey, 5-8, Jr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Stephanie Holthus, 6-0, Jr., OH, Burlington Central
Mary Kate Imrie, 5-10, Sr., S, Sandburg
Jenna Jacobson, 5-8, So., S, Whitney Young
Jenna Jendryk, 5-11, So., S/OH, Benet
Courtney Keefe, 5-11, Jr., OH, Lemont
Kristen Kelsay, 5-9, Sr., S, St. Francis
Shealyn Kolosky, 6-2, Jr., MH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Katie Krasowski, 5-11, Jr., MH, Marist
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0, Jr., OH, Cary-Grove
Madison Lang, 6-1, Jr., S, Barrington
Katie Lill, 5-10, Sr., OH, Hersey
Chloe Lupina, 6-0, Jr., OH, Naperville Central
Lexy Maciarz, 5-7, Sr., OH., Oak Forest
Mary Kate Manning, 5-10, Sr., OH, Marian Central
Kendall Martin, 5-9, Jr., OH, Elgin
Storm Melnick, 5-5, Sr., L, McHenry
Morgan Mientus, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Ignatius
Maisey Mulvey, 5-6, So., L, St. Charles East
Jennifer Murphy, 5-9, Sr., S, Joliet Catholic
Lanie Muys, 6-1, Sr., MB, Sandburg
Caroline Niedospial, 5-8, Jr., L, Marist

Next week, the second half of the list will be revealed.

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6-3 Jr. Middle Nevena Markovic of Glenbard South should also be considered. I don't know if she is top 50, but definitely better than a bunch of girls on this list.

Lamberti, Chapman and Burkle are members of the Sky High 16U National AAU Champions Open Division for 2009
Members of the 16 Black team are: Hannah Burkle (CL South), Taylor Humm (Prairie Ridge), Kelsey Nobilio (Johnsburg), Dena Ott (Marian Central), Carly Schmidt (Johnsburg), Kelly Lamberti (Cary-Grove), Colleen Smith (Cary-Grove), Chloie Fiedler (Richmond-Burton), Ellen Chapman (Glenbrook South) and Sarah Hunt (Prospect).

I understand that as a reporter, you can't effectively see all the possible candidates for this list. Not all the top players play for big name clubs like all the girls on this list. There are bench players on this list who didn't even start for their club team. This list smacks of colusion with the big name club directors. Moving to AAU from USAV fits right in with the recruiting corruption that happens with colleges and club ball with basketball.

Don't forget York's JVDA Nationals All Tournament team members Morgan Semmelhack (15 Open) and Lauren Zerante (17 open)on your list next week. Congratulations to all of the girls selected.

It's good to make these lists so people get a chance to give you a heads up on players off your radar.

A few more top juniors you should keep an eye on: Jocelyn Birks- Lyons Township, Courtney Blair- Eastland, Morganne Criswell- Decatur Lutheran, Morgan Leach- Champaign Centennial, Evyn McCoy- Sycamore, and Molly McCoy- Wheaton Academy. All of them are tall, skilled players that will put up big numbers while leading their teams to success. I'll wait for the second half of your list to see if you missed anyone else.

Illinois has the highest per-capita college volleyball player concentration in the country- even more than California- so there are lots of great players here.

I agree with vball1. Seems like the list consists of players on JVDA teams. There are many good players that play on non-JVDA teams or don't play club that should be considered.

If you are looking for candidates for the downstate list, 5'10" setter Laura Witt from Freeport HS should be consideration.

I agree with the poster, who mentioned about the big named clubs. Most of these girls are all SkyHigh, Lions Jr. SPRI and First Alliance. There are plenty of other clubs that are out there that don't go to JVDA and have kids that are talented on them.
Really girls from Mother McAuley? That's going out on a limb.
And there may be some surprises this upcoming year with schools that are showing huge improvement in their talent from previous years.
Don't just always look to the same old teams, same old programs when covering girls sports.
Having said that, Geneva HS could have a huge year this year.

Geneva had a huge year last year and they were ranked pretty much all season and for a little bit the year before, with basically the same team. He also has basically their entire lineup in his top 114. Reality is, though, they usually underachieve in the playoffs because they are very predictable and the teams with good coaching pick them apart when it matters. Wicinski is a stud and can take over a match, but I just don't see them being able to get past St Charles East. It will be interesting to see them play Joliet Catholic in their tourney the first weekend of the year.

Samantha Salvi is getting recruited like crazy and nobody knows about her except southern DI and DII schools and her coach at Carmel Mundelein. She's going to turn heads this fall, the best unsigned libero in the state for sure.

I saw Geneva play summer league and was impressed with Wicinski and Augastine. They had very few girls playing summer league, but looked pretty impressive.
And with Wicinski playing against Annmarie Hickey, the sound of their kills could be deafening.

Don't overlook the girls that don't come from powerhouse volleyball schools. Sarah Angelos, Waukegan HS, named to JVDA All-Tournament team, also on the Under Armour pre-season All-American watch list. Committed to DI next year.

Kelsey Keeve, Katie Bazzoni and Julia Watkins from LT should also be considered. They have been off the radar but should be big contributors this year.

USVB or JVDA.... if you only like the midwest clubs and teams, it's JVDA. If you think nationally though, it's USVB. We were at the Nationals in Miami. WOW ! Great Talent there from every corner of the nation!

Phil, compliments on a nice compilation of girls to be considered for top 50 to watch. I think most readers know that when compiling these lists you can’t pick everyone, you will miss some who are very deserving (e.g.DI verbal commitment players are not on your list but sophomores are?) but overall you do know the volleyball scene in Illinois. Some reader’s comments have alluded to your tendency to be slightly parochial in your choices/writings. Bigger clubs, perennial high school volleyball powerhouses get your attention. This is understandable, they get everyone’s attention-they are big or they are successful and sometimes both. Contrary to previous posts though, not everyone on your list is JVDA or an automatic choice based on high school affiliation. Thanks for recognizing those ‘other’ players.

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