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.