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.
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.