By Pat Brozynski

May 2010 Archives

Falls, Baronti, Pearson reap honors

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The Catholic League recently named its all-conference selections. Players named all-Catholic League are: Kyle Breitbarth, Mike Sweeney, James Connolly and Kevin Tucker of Providence; and Kevin Maxwell, JT O'Connell, Joe Miller and Dan Weishar of Brother Rice.

Also, Patrick Barry, Reis Foster, Kevin Feeley and Connor Rundall of Loyola; Joe Biros, Bobby Gallagher, Joe Fashingbauer and Tanner Panozzo of St. Rita; and Nick Gastevich, Doug Klein, Rimas Grybauskas and Alex Yeung of St. Ignatius.

Also, Garrett McGarry, Bobby Walsh and Ian Zaborowski of Mt. Carmel; Phil Gough, Kryzstof Jablonski and Dave Suwada of Fenwick; Michael Jarmola and Jacob Schlenbecker of Gordon Tech; and Josh Cambria and Kevin Leyendecker of St. Laurence.

Providence's Denny Falls was named the league's Tony Lawless Award winner, signifying the league's most outstanding player, and Providence coach Cindy Olczyk was named the league's most outstanding coach.

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Nick Baronti of Buffalo Grove, who is trying to lead his team back to the state quarterfinals, was named the Mid-Suburban East Player of the Year and Palatine's Paul Nat Pearson was named the Mid-Suburban West Player of the Year.

All-conference selections in the Mid-Suburban League were: Austin Czarnecki and Matt Logue of Barrington; Baronti, Mike Jambrone, Lukas Karch and Chris Shanahan of Buffalo Grove; and Matt Schimel of Conant.

Also, Szymon Gierut and Scott Siwicki of Elk Grove; Brian Allen, Jeff Chappell and Steve Maring of Fremd; Brandon Klein of Hersey; Kaushik Andra of Hoffman Estates; and Justin Ginter, Pearson and Colin Williams of Palatine.

Also, Kevin Wolter, Mike Hammersley and Sean Baltowski of Prospect; Brian Bourn of Rolling Meadows; Sanup Desai and Jason Wojcik of Schaumburg; and Mitch Lewis of Wheeling.

Logue, Karch, Shanahan and Ginter were the only juniors on the team and Czarnecki was the lone sophomore.

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O'Fallon defeated Belleville Althoff 25-22, 25-20 on Friday to earn a berth opposite Minooka in Tuesday's sectional championship at Neuqua Valley. The Panthers (25-2-1) are trying to become the first "downstate" team to qualify for the quarterfinals.

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Kudos to Cary-Grove senior Brittany Kroening, who missed her graduation to play in a sectional soccer championship game. Too bad the same cannot be said for several senior volleyball players at (Chicago) Payton, who blew off a sectional semifinal to attend prom.

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Congratulations to Courtney Thomas, a senior-to-be at DeKalb, for being selected to the USA Junior National Training Team, and to Lauren Carlini, who will be a sophomore at West Aurora in the fall, for being selected to the USA Youth National Training Team.

Boys tennis does it right.

Two decades ago while serving in an unofficial capacity on the boys tennis advisory committee, I sat in as coaches from throughout the state met in Bloomington to seed the boys state tennis tournament.

Each year, I would chart the state tournament to see how well the committee did. With few exceptions, the committee accurately seeded the tournament and the top singles and doubles seeds that would advance to the quarterfinals.

The idea was to provide the best state tournament possible and to assure that the top singles players and doubles teams had the best possible chance to reach the finals. The tennis committee continues to do that today.

So why not other sports?

Why shouldn't the final eight teams in basketball, or now with class expansion, at least the final four teams that advance to state, be re-seeded so that the best teams meet in the finals? Why not re-seed in football? Or any sport for that matter?

Why not seed the final eight teams in boys volleyball so that the two best teams have the best possible chance of meeting in the finals?

The Illinois High School Association will never budge off its stance of "geographic representation," so we are stuck with sectionals aligned the way they currently are. But why cannot it not allow other sports, besides tennis, to seed the quarterfinals so that the best teams meet in the finals?

This year, if the top sectional seeds advance to the boys volleyball quarterfinals, the final eight pairings would look like this: Neuqua Valley vs. Oak Park, Wheaton Warrenville South vs. Morton, Maine South vs. Buffalo Grove, and Sandburg vs. Lake Park.

The semifinals would pit Neuqua Valley vs. Wheaton Warrenville South and Maine South vs. Sandburg.

Maine South has clearly established itself as the best team in the state, completing an unblemished regular season, and rates a slight edge as favorite over Sandburg, which has not lost since the first weekend of the season.

Yet those two teams would meet in a semifinal.

Three-time defending state champion Wheaton Warrenville South, on the other hand, would seem to have clear path to the finals, as none of the other three potential quarterfinalists in its half of the bracket are ranked among the top 10 in the state.

Why cannot a group of sober, clear-thinking coaches, officials or members of the volleyball advisory committee be allowed to sit down and clearly and rationally seed the volleyball finalists Nos. 1-8?

My seeded quarterfinals would look something like this: No. 1 Maine South vs. No. 8 Morton, 4 Buffalo Grove vs. No. 5 Neuqua Valley, No. 2 Sandburg vs. No. 7 Oak Park, and No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South vs. No. 6 Lake Park.

Your potential semifinals would pit Maine South vs. Buffalo Grove and Sandburg vs. WW South. Maine South and Sandburg would be afforded the opportunity to meet in the state championship match.

Instead, Maine South must defeat Buffalo Grove and Sandburg just to get to the finals. Meanwhile, either Neuqua Valley or Oak Park are guaranteed a state finals trophy just for winning their respective sectionals.

I am not saying that there cannot be upsets. I also mean no disrespect to the teams not seeded in the top four. I am just saying that the quarterfinal pairings should not be based on an arbitrary system known as the "rolling of the peas."

Let's give boys volleyball, and other sports such as basketball, football, baseball and soccer the same opportunity that tennis has been given.

The tennis committee usually gets it right and provides year in and year out what I consider one of the premier events in state finals history.

Why doesn't everybody else deserve the same opportunity?



Prepvolleyball.com recently announced its 2009 "Gym Dandies," full-time, high school and club backrow players who project as defensive standouts at the next level. The list is presented as five teams of 13 players with the rest receiving honorable mention recognition.

Players were nominated by high school coaches and club directors. The only limitation was the player had to be generally considered among the best five defensive players in her state regardless of class year or school classification.

Players named to the "Gym Dandies" list from Illinois include Grace Bonoma, a senior from St. Ignatius; Julie Jeziorowski, a senior from Crystal Lake Central; Caroline Niedospial, a junior from Marist; and Brianne Riley, a senior from Benet Academy. All four were second-team selections.

Bonoma is the only libero in the history of the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference to receive Player of the Year honors. She set a school single-season record with 525 digs in 2009. Bonoma was named to the All-Area First Team by the Sun-Times and is committed to Saint Louis University.

Jeziorowski, a Marquette recruit, had 589 digs and passed with 94.2 percent accuracy in 2009 to help lead her Crystal Lake Central team to the state Class 3A quarterfinals. She was named "Best Passer" in the 18s division at the 2009 PrepVolleyball.com Classic.

Niedospial will team with Molly Murphy next year to give Marist one of the best backrows in the state. Headed to Northwestern in the fall of 2011, she has been voted the team's MVP the last two years. Niedospial finished the 2009 campaign with 618 digs.

Riley, who will join Amy and Kara Wehrs at Kansas in the fall, helped lead Benet to a 35-5 record in 2009 and was named All-Area First Team by the Sun-Times. Characterized as "a fierce and passionate competitor," Riley simply hated to lose.

Other selections to the "Gym Dandies" team were: sophomore Bridget Powell of Mother McAuley, a fourth-team choice; and honorable mention selections Amy Choi of Vernon Hills, sophomore Amy Dion of Huntley, and senior Stephanie Keca of Joliet Catholic.

Also earning honorable mention honors were Jamie Lundstrom of Lyons, junior Molly Murphy of Marist, freshman Kristen Webb of Libertyville, Danielle Donahue of Lockport, Becky Haraf of Hersey, and sophomores Megan Miller of Lyons and Maisey Mulvey of St. Charles East.

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Joliet Catholic senior Alyssa Warren was named to the USA Volleyball High Performance National A2 Team. The roster will be posted on the USA Volleyball High Performance web site around May 25th, pending the results of the final cut of the A1 National Team.

The A2 team will compete in an international competition at Chula Vista in the Wisconsin Dells on July 20-30. The competition will include teams from other countries.

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Marist's senior rightside hitter Bridget Sheerin recently committed to Mercer University, a Division I school in Macon, Ga. Sheerin received a full scholarship to attend Mercer, where she will join former Geneva star Rachel Urbelis, a 6-foot-1 junior outside.


A freshman errs and a sophomore commits

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Benet's 6-foot-2 sophomore Meghan Haggerty (pictured at right) has verbally committed to play at the University of Wisconsin beginning in the fall of 2012.

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Truth is stranger than fiction.

While watching his team's potential regional championship opponent (Glenbard West) play a possible sectional final foe (St. Francis) Wednesday in Wheaton with former Sun-Times All-Area selection Eric Hardek, Wheaton Warrenville South coach Bill Schreier related a story about former all-area setter Doug Burchett.

Nine years ago, Wheaton Warrenville South was making its annual appearance at the Richards Bulldog Volleyball Invitational. The Tigers had been struggling that season - one of the few seasons since the Sean Rooney era when Wheaton Warrenville South was not a state title contender - and were relegated to a back gymnasium of the Oak Lawn school.

As the Tigers were preparing to play their next opponent, Burchett, who was a freshman that season, looked across the net at his team's next opponent.

Burchett then turned to his coach and said in all seriousness, "I didn't know Richards was in this tournament."

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Speaking of Richards, the 2010 Bulldog Invitational features one of its strongest fields ever with three-time defending state champion Wheaton Warrenville South, Marist, New Trier, Morton, Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South and Warren.

The championship match is scheduled for noon on Saturday.

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Congratulations to Waubonsie Valley, which clinched a share of its first Upstate Eight Conference title since 2006 by beating Lake Park 25-27, 25-23, 25-22 Tuesday in Roselle.

Freshman setter Luke Furman had 22 assists, senior Eric Johnson added 20 assists and Robert Wieland and Russell Penicook each had 12 kills for Waubonsie Valley (19-8, 7-0), which can win the title outright by defeating Neuqua Valley at home May 18.

Neuqua Valley has won three consecutive Upstate Eight titles.

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A former Sun-Times All-Area selection had a front row seat to Stanford's three-set victory over Penn State in the finals of the NCAA Men's Volleyball National Championship May 8 at Stanford.

Former Barrington star Jason Ambrose, a 6-foot-6 redshirt junior, is a member of the Penn State men's volleyball team. Ambrose was the second-leading attacker on Barrington's 2005 IHSA state runner-up.

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Guess what the Illinois women's volleyball team found under its Christmas tree? A powerful, 6-foot-2 outside hitter.

Former Naperville North star and Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection Colleen Ward has signed a letter of intent to transfer to Illinois from Florida. A second-team All-Southeastern Conference performer in 2009, she will be immediately eligible in the fall.

Ward ranked 10th in the SEC in kills, was an all-tournament selection twice and played in every set for a team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before bowing to eventual national champion Penn State. She had 18 kills in a late-season upset of No. 10 Kentucky.

Ward and former Downers Grove North star Laura DeBruler will give Illinois one of the best outside hitter combinations in the Big Ten, if not the nation.

Mike Kreiser (pictured below) and his Lake Park teammares are the No. 1 seed at St. Charles East.

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Last year, Waubonsie Valley coach Al Lagger asked outgoing IHSA assistant executive director Sue Henrichsen about possible changes to the state tournament to provide balance to what is clearly an imbalanced system.

"She said they (the IHSA) were not interested in crowning a state champion," Lagger said. "They were interested in geographic representation. So I told her that maybe they should call it a 'geographically representative' tournament, because it certainly is not a state tournament."

The annual IHSA "geographically representative" boys volleyball tournament gets under way on Monday, May 24 with regional quarterfinals, and one does not have to look far to find some early pairings that make you go "huh?"

How about...Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central in a regional semifinal at Hinsdale Central?

Or Downers Grove North and Naperville North in a regional final at Addison Trail?

Or Providence and Lincoln-Way North in a regional final at Lincoln-Way North?

On the other hand, you have....

Lake Park virtually unchallenged at the St. Charles East sectional?

Oak Park, which went 2-3 at the Tiger Classic, getting the No. 1 seed at Whitney Young?

Naperville North, which went 4-1 at the Tiger Classic, getting the No. 5 seed at Glenbard East?

Three of the top five seeds at Whitney Young are Public League teams?

You want inequity?

Choose one: Sandburg, Marist, Lincoln-Way Central or Providence. All four ranked in the top 10. Only one will advance to Hoffman Estates.

Choose one: How about Wheaton Warrenville South, St. Francis, Downers South, Downers North, Naperville North, Glenbard East. All four in the top 20. All but one will be sitting on the sidelines June 4-5.

If a "state tournament" is what you want...try Wisconsin.

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The Public League playoffs get under way with 16 games on Tuesday, May 11. Payton is the No. 1 seed, followed by Young, Lane Tech and Lincoln Park. Second round games are Thursday May 13.

The Public League quarterfinals will be played at 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 17 at Juarez and Little Village high schools. Semifinals will be played at 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 19 at Senn.

The championship game is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 21 at Attack Athletics.

In addition to being the top seed in the Public League tournament, Payton is the third seed at the Whitney Young sectional behind Oak Park and St. Patrick.


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(Pictured right: Benet's Lara Ontko)

The school that sent six girls to Division I schools just two years ago is back at it.

Benet's Lara Ontko (Class of 2011) and Meghan Haggerty (Class of 2012), who helped lead the Redwings to a 33-5 record and a berth in the Class 4A supersectional last fall, have recently made verbal commitments to attend Division I universities.

Ontko, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter who plays club for Sports Performance's 17-1 team, has committed to play volleyball for the University of Mississippi.

"I fell in love with the people, campus and general feel of Ole Miss," Ontko said. "I knew right away it would be the right decision for me."

Benet coach Brad Baker said Ontko, who is going to Mississippi as a backrow player, has the potential to develop into an all-around threat.

"Lara is a super athlete who has great skills in all areas," he said. "She has always been a force on offense, but her defense and passing have really improved over the past few years. With her overall skills and want to be great, it would not surprise me if she finds a way to be a six rotation player."

Haggerty, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter, verbally committed to play volleyball for the University of Wisconsin.

"I was very impressed with coach Pete Waite, his staff and their commitment to winning Big Ten and national championships in the future," Haggerty said. "Another important factor was the impressive line up of talent on the current roster and the huge amount of talent committed for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.

"The future is very bright for Wisconsin volleyball and I want to be a part of it," Haggerty said.

Haggerty, who plays for Sports Performance's 18 Elite team, led Benet in blocks and hitting percentage last fall. She also considered Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State, Minnesota and other schools in the Big 12 and Big East conferences.

"The University of Wisconsin is getting a dynamic volleyball player who will be a force in the Big Ten," Baker said. "She is a high flyer who posses an extremely fast arm. She will be a great teammate and no doubt is someone the Badgers will be lucky to have in their program."

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