By Pat Brozynski

February 2010 Archives

Five Illinois players named Academic All America

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PrepVolleyball.com has announced its 2009 High School Volleyball Academic All-American team which features five players from Illinois..

The Academic All Americans are listed in five teams of eight plus a "Highest Honorable Mention" category. The teams consist loosely of five attackers, two setters and a defensive player. To be considered for this honor, players had to be nominated.

The first team included Emma Goldschmidt, a 6-foot outside hitter from O'Fallon. The St. Louis recruit was the Belleville News Democrat All Metro Large School Player of the Year and was named second team All State by the Champaign News-Gazette,

Goldschmidt had 367 kills and 419 digs on the court, and a 4.0 GPA in the classroom where she ranked first in her class of 635 students. She is involved in Student Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Leadership Council and Sports Psychology Club.

Lexi Finger, a 5-7 libero from Lockport, was named to the third team. A two-year all-conference performer, Finger has a 4.68 GPA on a 4.0 scale and ranks 11th in her class out of 965 students.

A member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society and an Illinois State Scholar, Linger scored a 34 on the ACT test. She will play next year for Colgate University.

Nikki DelZenero, a 5-8 setter from Hinsdale Central, was a fifth-team choice. DelZenero set the school single-season assist record in 2009, amassing 805 for a 33-6 team. Also the school's career assists leader, DelZenero maintains a 5.229 GPA on a five-point scale.

Named to the "Highest Honorable Mention" team were Benet's Gina Finke and Kristen Kelsay of St. Francis.

The Yale-bound Finke led the Redwings in kills and scored a 31 on her ACT, while Kelsay, who had 875 assists and 52 blocks for a 36-3 team in the fall, ranks 15th in her class of 183 with a 4.67 GPA.

"Cook-ed" at Nebraska, Kelsay finds home at MSU

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Former St. Francis and current Sports Performance 18 Elite setter Kristen Kelsay, a Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection, did not take long to find a new home after decommitting from Nebraska a few weeks ago.

The daughter of Big Ten parents - dad is a Minnesota alum, mom went to Iowa - Kelsay has opted to attend Michigan State in the fall.

Kelsay decommitted from Nebraska after former UCLA setter and Pac 10 "Freshman of the Year" Lauren Cook left the west coast powerhouse to return home and attend Nebraska, where her father John Cook has been head coach for 10 years.

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Sports Performance 17 Mizuno's surprising 22-25, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13 victory over Sky High 17 Black in the finals of the Great Lakes Center Presidents' Day Challenge might have improved the stock of a couple of local players.

Unfortunately, by the time the match was played late Monday, only a handful of parents were on hand to watch.

Three key figures in the host team's win were libero Natalia Skiba of Hinsdale Central, Waubonsie Valley outside hitter Martha Stewart and Benet outside hitter Lara Ontko. Skiba, an outside hitter during the high school season, is destined for defense in college.

"I'm not tall enough to hit in college," Skiba admitted. "But I love to hit."

Among those who attended the tournament was Benet coach Brad Baker, who had to be thrilled with Ontko's performance for SPVB 17 Mizuno. He also had to be happy with sophomores middle hitter Meghan Haggerty and setter/outside hitter Jenna Jendryk, whose SPVB Elite team won the 18s title.

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A player to watch in 2010 is Prospect and Sky High 17 Black outside hitter Sarah Hunt. Hunt has been balancing playing basketball for her Prospect High School team while playing club volleyball for the Crystal Lake-based Sky High.

"I try to do as much of both (basketball and volleyball) as I can," Hunt said. "I don't want to put one over the other. I am going to all my basketball practices, and when basketball is over I will dedicate myself completely to volleyball. I will try to do the same next year."

Volleyball will have to wait another week to get the 6-foot-3 Hunt's full attention. Her Prospect basketball team defeated Stevenson 42-38 Thursday to advance to sectional play next week.

However, Hunt, who is only in her second year of club volleyball, said she is leaning toward volleyball in college.

"College volleyball really appeals to me," she said.

Army's Mankus is everything she can be

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mankus.jpgFormer Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection and Benet star Ariana Mankus recently became the first player in Patriot League history to be named "Player of the Year" and "Rookie of the Year" in the same year.

Mankus, who led Army to its first Patriot League volleyball chamionship in 15 years and its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament, was also named the 2009 National Freshman of the Year by College Volleyball Update.com.

"This is such a tremendous honor and so well-deserved for Ariana," said 2009 Patriot League Coach of the Year Alma Kovaci. "I knew coming into the season that we were going to count on her to be an impact player right away. I knew that she had it in her to step into that role, handle the pressure and succeed.

"What impressed me more though is that she excelled in that environment, which is an amazing feat for a freshman," the Army coach added. "For her to be singled out among this group of enormous talent is fantastic. Ariana works for and deserves every award that has come her way this year."

Mankus led Army, which had graduated four all-conference players, to both the Patriot League regular-season and conference tournament titles. She averaged 4.8 kills per set during Army's two Patriot League tournament victories.

During the regular conrference season, Mankus averaged 3.67 kills per set and garnered first team All-Patriot League honors. She registered 12 double doubles (kills, digs), including one in each of the Black Knights' final four matches of the season.

Mankus also delivered 23 double-digit kill matches and reached the 20-kill plateau six times. She registered a career-high 26 kills in a 3-2 home victory over American on October 16 and 16 kills and 12 digs in the Black Knights' stunning upset of then-No. 19 Pepperdine on September 12 in Malibu, Calif.

The victory at Pepperdine was Army's first over a nationally ranked opponent in program history. Mankus hit for a .294 attack percentage to land fifth among the Patriot League's top hitters. Her 426 kills on the year rank ninth in Army single-season history, while her 3.67 kills per set lands seventh.

Mankus and the Black Knights finished the season with a 26-6 record, including a 12-2 Patriot League mark. The Black Knights drew Pennsylvania in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated (3-1) in the opening round on December 4 in a match that was played at Penn State's Rec Hall.

In addition to being named national freshman of the year by College Volleyball Update.com, Mankus was one of 19 players named to its "Rising Stars" team. Included in that group was former Chatham (Ill.) Glenwood star Hannah Werth of Nebraska.

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Sports Performance Volleyball Club will host its annual Presidents' Day Tournament Saturday-Monday, February 13-15, at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora and the Schaumburg Convention Center near Meacham Road in Schaumburg.

All of the 18s open and club contests will be played at Great Lakes, while the 15s, 16s and `17s will be played at the Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday. The 15s will move to the Great Lakes Center on Monday.

Among the clubs participating are Sky High, Fusion, 1st Alliance, Illini Elite, Munciana, Kane County, Powerhouse, Team Indiana, St. Louis CYC, Dunes, Rolling Thunder, A5, Celtic Force, Milwaukee Sting and Michigan Elite.

For more information, visit the Sports Performance Web site at www.greatlakescenter.com.

Seven Illinois players were named as finalists for the 2009 Andi Collins Award, signifying the nation's top senior setter, by PrepVolleyball.com.

Collins was a 5-foot-10 setter at Mater Dei High School in California who died from breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 16. The award was named in her honor not only to keep her memory alive, but to remind the volleyball community of her inspirational struggle.

The Illinois' finalists were Glenbrook South's Colleen Brennan, Cary-Grove's Abbey Heredia, Sandburg's Mary Kate Imrie, St. Francis' Kristen Kelsay, Quincy's Hannah Kvitle, Joliet Catholic's Jen Murphy and Nazareth's Jill Paluch.

Brennan, a Columbia recruit, led the Titans to a third-place finish in the Illinois High School Association Class 4A tournament. Named special mention Sun-Times all-area, Brennan recorded 807 assists and 164 digs for a 37-5 team.

Heredia was the inspirational force in the Trojans' run to the Illinois 4A title and leaves the school as its all-time assist leader. She piled up 865 in 2009 en route to earning second team all state honors by the Champaign News-Gazette.

Imrie earned Sun-Times first-team all-area honors after leading Sandburg to a 32-7 record and status as one of the state's best teams. Imrie, who will attend Illinois-Chicago, amassed 719 assists, 260 digs and 115 kills in 2009.

Another Sun-Times first team all-area selection, Kelsay heads to Nebraska after totaling 875 assists and 52 blocks for a 36-3 team that had match point against eventual Class 3A champion Joliet Catholic in the sectional final.

Kvitle was a Champaign News-Gazette first team all-state performer who led the Quincy Blue Devils to the 4A final four and established school season records for assists (881) and aces (73). Kvitle graduated early to enroll at St. Louis University.

The Evansville-bound Murphy led Joliet Catholic to another state championship in Class 3A as well as a school record for wins in a season. Murphy was a Champaign News-Gazette honorable mention all-state selection.

Named special mention all-area by the Sun-Times, the 5-foot-4 Paluch led Nazareth Academy to its first ever regional and sectional championships in 2009. She will take her immense intensity and desire to Akron in the fall.

Despite the many fine nominees from Illinois, Dani Reinert of Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy was named the recipient of the seventh annual Andi Collins Award. Barrington's Nellie Spicer (2004) remains the only Collins Award winner from Illinois.

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Four Illinois players, including three from the Chicago area, were among the Frosh 59 - the best high school playing freshmen of 2009 - announced by PrepVolleyball.com earlier this week.

The four Illinois freshmen are St. Charles East's Erienne Barry, West Aurora's Lauren Carlini, St. Ignatius' Sophia Dodd and O'Fallon's Katie Roustio.

Barry amassed 674 assist and 12 digs for the Saints, who were felled by eventual Class 4A champion Cary-Grove in the supersectional. Carlini was the only freshman named to the DuPage Valley all-conference team after collecting 185 assists and 105 kills.

Dodd's 488 assists, 191 digs and 111 kills helped St. Ignatius go 32-7, the best record in school history.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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