By Pat Brozynski

October 2009 Archives

There is a better way. Just not in Illinois.

Last weekend, Lockport, seeded seventh in the Lockport Class 4A sectional, defeated No. 3-ranked Lyons in the finals of the Lyons quad. Thursday, the Porters were knocked out of the state tournament with a 25-19, 25-21 loss to 10th-seeded Plainfield North.

Kylee Baker had 13 kills and Sarah Scott added seven in the Tigers' victory, their eighth straight.

"A few weeks ago we changed our offense, we changed our defense and there was a re-commitment by me and a re-commitment by the players," Plainfield North coach Kerri McCastland said. "They bought into it. We're better than we were yesterday."

Lockport had a brief early lead in Game 2, but could never sustain a consistent attack. Baker, Scott and 6-2 junior middle Kaisley Fisher, a Purdue recruit, kept the Porters on their heels most of the night.

However, the loss is more a testimonial to the depth of the Lockport sectional than a knock on the Porters, who got only limited play from star all-round player Dana Raber (felled by a high ankle sprain a few weeks ago).

That Plainfield North, 22-8 after the win, is a 10th seed speaks volumes to the inequity of the IHSA tournament, which is slanted toward "geographic representation" and makes regional losers out of teams that might be sectional champions somewhere else.

It's difficult to "sport a winning attitude" when fairness is tossed aside like a wet rag.


Lockport wasn't the only higher seed to go down Thursday. Among the more notable teams to fall victim to an upset were Bloom, a 25-23, 13-25, 25-22 loser to Andrew; Libertyville, a 25-14, 25-18 loser to Carmel; and Prospect, downed by Waukegan 25-10, 25-18.

Thursday also marked the end of Stephanie Holthus' high school career. Holthus, a Northwestern recruit and one of the best outside hitters in the state, and her Burlington Central teammates succumbed to Sycamore 25-13, 17-25, 25-23.


Looking for a good regional final Saturday?

How about Stagg and Providence at Lincoln-Way Central at 4:00 p.m.? Or Downers Grove North and Neuqua Valley at Neuqua Valley at 2:00 p.m.? Or Sycamore taking on Hampshire at Burlington Central at 7:00 p.m.? Geneva and Batavia at Addison Trail at 1:00 p.m.?

Or of you don't mind a little drive, how about Belleville Althoff and Breese Mater Dei hooking up at 1:30 p.m. at Centralia? Or you could head west and watch Moline and Quincy at 1:00 p.m. at Moline?

Or how about my personal favorite, Rebecca Gillen and the Monmouth-Roseville Titans taking on Sherrard at (Taylor Ridge) Rockridge Saturday at 1:00 p.m.?


Finally, the 2009 volleyball season came to a merciful end for Bridgeport Red Hill in a Class 2A regional semifinal Thursday in Grayville. The Salukis, owners of the longest losing streak in Illinois volleyball history, fell to Clay City 25-5, 25-7.

Red Hill has not won a volleyball match since October 7, 2002. The school's losing streak is somewhere near the century-and-a-half mark (it's hard to find reliable information on such things, but it was 147 in a row after a loss on October 21).

Red Hill is a school of 337 students in southeastern Illinois just across the border from Vincennes, Indiana. You would think they might find a few good volleyball players among the 170 or so girls in the school.

However, the school board, in its wisdom, apparently killed the middle school volleyball program a few years ago, leaving Red Hill's ballers well behind their peers in terms of experience, training and skill level.

If anybody needs a federal bailout, it's those folks.

A few coaching milestones were reached last week.

Lyons coach Joann Pyritz earned her 600th career victory when the Lions defeated New Trier 20-25, 25-22, 25-19 in the quarterfinals of the Maine West Pumpkin Tournament.

Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne earned her 400th career win when the Bulldogs defeated Downers Grove South 25-17, 25-19 at Maine West.

If you took the top four coaches at the 24-team Maine West tournament and added their number of wins, you would come up with a staggering 2,700 victories..

Peg Kopec of St. Francis has more than 1,000, Hersey's Nancy Lill eclipsed the 700-mark this season, Pyritz has 600-plus and Trippi-Payne now has more than 400.

"If you hang around long enough, you're going to win a few matches," Pyritz said.


Lyons added to that coaching mark by defeating Hinsdale Central 20-25, 25-23, 25-20 on Tuesday in LaGrange. But if a team ever deserved a win based purely on hustle points, it was Hinsdale Central.

At least twice in the match, the Lyons players started celebrating points only to see the ball come back at them. The first was a save right in front of the Hinsdale Central bench, and the second was a remarkable dig off the floor.

The "up" official, perhaps not believing that anybody could have saved the second ball, blew the point over. But after a short conference with the "down" official, the point was replayed.

Hinsdale Central lost after squandering leads of 20-16 in Game 2 and 19-15 in Game 3, but the two teams could meet again in a Class 4A semifinal in Bloomington. That is, if Lyons can get past McAuley.


Just wondering, Part I: Hampshire vs. Burlington Central in a regional final? Whose brilliant idea was that?


Just wondering, Part II: Joliet Catholic vs. St. Francis in a sectional final? Whose brilliant idea was that?


Just wondering, Part III: After a Public League team had never reached the state semifinal in volleyball, could three-time defending city champion Payton make it back-to-back trips to Bloomington?

The Grizzlies would have to get past Nazareth, Riverside-Brookfield and Trinity in the sectional and most likely Crystal Lake Central in the supersectional. By the way, Crystal Lake Central coach Doug Blundy? More than 740 wins.


Just wondering, Part IV: Mother McAuley, what took you so long?


Joliet Catholic was ranked No. 9 in the country in last week's rankings. Other Illinois teams in the top 100 were No. 28 Lyons, No. 49 St. Francis, No. 52 Benet, No. 73 Moline, No. 75 St. Charles East, No. 78 Hinsdale Central and No. 99 Glenbrook South.

There should be a major shuffling among several of the Illinois teams after Lyons, Benet, Moline and Hinsdale Central all suffered losses.

Jones' Jones is the one in the city

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Copy of city2009.jpg
The 2009 Chicago Public Schools All-City Volleyball Team

Payton coach Joel Anderson peered into his crystal ball a couple of weeks ago and predicted that 5-foot-11 junior outside hitter Tyler Jones would be named the Player of the Year by Chicago Public League coaches.

Thursday, those coaches made Anderson look like Nostradamus.

Taylor, who led Jones College Prep team to the city semifinals and a 23-6 record, edged Whitney Young's Gillian Asque and Payton's Mari Faines to earn Player of the Year honors.

"Jones is the diamond in the rough that no one outside the city seems to know," Anderson said. "I haven't seen anyone as dominant as her. No one even close. That's why they have blown through their conference.

"The team is still lower level, but she definitely isn't," Anderson added. "She had 16 kills against us (in a regular-season match) and we put (6-foot-2 middle) Faines on her. She's fun to watch."

The rest of the First Team All-City included senior Gillian Asque of Whitney Young; junior Nora Banaszek of Payton; junior Mari Faines of Payton; junior Amanda Hedberg of Young; and sophomore Jenna Jacobson of Young.

Also, senior Megan Knapp of Lane Tech; sophomore Madisen Lenzini of Young; senior Courtney Olsen of Young; sophomore Michelle Schultz of Payton; senior Terri Taylor of Von Steuben; and senior Briana Vinson of Simeon.

Named to the Second Team All-City were: junior Christine Alvarado of Northside College Prep; senior Samantha Arce of Kelvyn Park; senior Hope Castillo of Brooks; junior Chelsea Cunningham of Young; junior Anna Fedele of Jones; and senior Heather Ksiazek of Lane Tech.

Also, sophomore Kathleen Kurtenback of Jones; junior Allie Mason of Payton; senior Renee Psenka of Northside College Prep; junior Maricella Rodriguez of Jones; senior Sandy Tran of Taft; and freshman Melina Villaber of Taft.


Louisville grabbed one of the biggest steals of the year when it lured Prairie Ridge setter/outside hitter Taylor Brauneis. The 5-foot-11 senior has led the Wolves to a 19-9 record by amassing 169 kills, 37 aces, 165 assists, 58 blocks and 103 digs.

"Taylor has become a great leader by encouraging her teammates and spending extra time at practice to work on different parts of her game," said Prairie Ridge coach Stefanie Otto.

Brauneis stayed after a home match to work on her serving after missing several serves. A few days later, she served 11 consecutive points as Prairie Ridge rallied from a 20-13 deficit in a Mizuno Cup pool match against Plainfield South.

"She has self-control in all circumstances and very enjoyable to coach," Otto said. "She has all around talent in being a great hitter and setter."


Two Illinois products have helped Florida ascend to No. 6 in the national rankings. Former Joliet Catholic standout and Gatorade Player of the Year Kelly Murphy and 6-2 outside hitter Colleen Ward of Naperville North are driving the Gators to the top of the Southeastern Conference East Division standings.

Murphy recently turned in her nation-leading fourth triple-double with 12 kills, 25 assists and 17 digs in a victory over South Carolina. The 6-2 sophomore also ranks seventh in the league in assists per set (6.28) and ninth in hitting percentage (.325).

Ward ranks fifth in the SEC with 3.45 kills per set. She has recorded double-figure kills in 12 of 14 matches, including a match-high 18 kills in the victory over South Carolina.
Florida is 12-3 and 6-2 in the SEC after a three-set loss to LSU on October 11.

Neuqua Valley (21-8) suffered a major blow to its state tournament hopes when senior setter Sam Skryd tore a ligament in her left knee during the team's second match at the Mizuno Cup tournament.

Skryd jump-served an ace with her team leading 24-23 in the first game of its pool match with Oak Forest.

"Nobody saw it happen," Neuqua Valley coach Kelly Simon said. "Everybody was looking at the ace and then started celebrating on the floor."

Senior Beth Blackman stepped in for Skryd as the Wildcats finished the tournament 3-2, defeating Bloomington in the Gold Division consolation semifinals before losing to Geneva 22-25, 25-15, 25-15 for fifth place.

"Beth has set in club," Simon said. "It will just take some time to adjust to her. Sam runs a much faster offense."


After starting the season 2-5 with losses to Lyons, Benet, Sandburg, Glenbrook South and Hinsdale Central, York is now 21-8 and seeded third in its sectional behind St. Charles East and Geneva.

The Dukes are 7-1 in their last eight matches, losing to Benet 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 in the finals of the Redwings' tournament October 10 after knocking off Hinsdale Central 25-21, 25-14 in the semifinals.

Outside hitter Lauren Zerante is one of only three seniors on the roster. Sophomore middle hitter Morgan Semmelhack and sophomore outside hitter Caroline Rose both started as freshmen for coach Patty Iverson.


Congratulations to Hersey coach Nancy Lill, who registered her 700th career victory on September 29 when the Huskies defeated Buffalo Grove 25-15, 25-15. Lill joined seven other Illinois coaches with 700 victories.

Lill has also won 13 Mid-Suburban League division titles, five conference crowns, six supersectional titles and has led teams to a second, third and fourth-place finish at state. Katie Lill, Nancy's daughter, is the Huskies' leading attacker this fall.

Hersey (23-1) will get its first major test of the season at the Maine West Pumpkin Tournament this weekend. The Huskies are seeded fifth in a field that includes Lyons (25-1), Sandburg (25-4), St. Francis (26-2) and Evanston (24-4).


Joliet Catholic (26-1) will put its No. 1 ranking on the line this weekend at Glenbard East against Benet (24-2), St. Charles East (22-4), Crystal Lake South (21-4) and Lemont (21-6). Last year, Joliet Catholic handed Benet its only regular-season loss at this tournament.


Lyons' 6-2 junior outside hitter Jocelyn Birks recently verbally committed to play volleyball at the University of Illinois in the fall of 2011. Plainfield North's 6-2 junior Kaisley Fisher has verbally committed to Purdue.

Glancing into the crystal ball before it cracks

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The Illinois High School Association released the pairings for the 2009 girls state volleyball tournament last week. Here is a look at the potential sectional showdowns:

Class 4A

At Geneva: Top-seeded St. Charles East flashed its 2008 championship form over the weekend at Mizuno, and should the Saints get past Bartlett in one semifinal, they would face either Geneva or York in the finals. Geneva lost to York last year in the sectional semifinals and have been pointing to the rematch all season. York upset Hinsdale Central at Benet last weekend, but Geneva showed its resiliency by overcome Game 1 losses to Lockport and Neuqua Valley to finish fifth at the Mizuno Cup.

At Huntley: Cary-Grove, which is getting great play from junior outside Kelly Lamberti and setter Abby Heredia, and Crystal Lake South led by Caitlin Schumacher, should meet in the finals. The wildcard is Rockton Hononegah. Elgin is the top seed at the Larkin regional.

At Evanston: Glenbrook South and Evanston should have no trouble advancing to the finals in a field from field that features 10 Chicago Public Schools. Ellen Chapman vs. Ali Gossen. Clash of the Titans? When was the last time New Trier wasn't mentioneed as a potential state threat from the North Shore? .

At Stevenson: Katie Lill and Hersey should advance from a foursome that includes Lake Forest, Lake Zurich and Libertyville. A lot of "L's" in this field.

At Lockport: The traditionally-strong west suburban field moves south down I-355. Benet and Hinsdale Central, which have met twice already this season, should play the rubber match in the finals if Downers Grove North and Naperville North don't get in the way.

At Eisenhower: Mother McAuley has made this field its personal playground through the years, but Sandburg looks to be the team to beat in 2009. Marist and McAuley would meet in the other semifinal with neighborhood bragging rights at stake.

At St. Ignatius: Lyons gets the free pass to the supersectional from a field that includes nine Chicago Public League schools.

Class 3A

At Rochelle: Marian Central should get past Freeport and Hampshire should have little trouble with Geneseo to earn a date in the finals on November 5. Metamora, the top team in the Peoria area, and Bloomington, which placed a solid seventh at the Mizuno Cup behind Lauren Seyller, loom as potential supersectional opponents.

At Crete: Oak Forest, with Natalie Fiore towering over her teammates at 5-foot-11, are heavily favored against Rich Central, Illiana Christian and Evergreen Park. Oak Forest took a few lumps at Mizuno, losing to Rockford Guilford 26-24, 26-24 and Naperville Central in three games, but bounced back to beat Wheaton Warrenville South in straight sets to finish 15th.

At St. Francis: Can anyone stop Joliet Catholic? Kelsey Robinson and St. Francis will try, but it would take a superhuman effort to deny the Angels their second consecutive Class 3A title. Rosary and Lemont should have little trouble in their respective regionals but are heavy underdogs in the sectional semifinals. History? Last year, the Angels needed three games to beat the Spartans at the Oswego supersectional as Robinson put down 20 kills. In 2007, St. Francis won after Kelly Murphy was hobbled by an ankle injury.

At Nazareth: Defending sectional champion (Chicago) Payton has been plagued by injuries, but if healthy, don't be surprised to see Mari Faines and company punch another ticket to the supersectional. Nazareth has super setter Jill Paluch, but will it be enough?

At Vernon Hills: You have to like Crystal Lake Central and the Anderson non-twins, but Prairie Ridge, which falls from Class 4A, could be a factor. St. Viator is having a banner season and should meet Prairie Ridge in a semifinal.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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