By Pat Brozynski

August 2010 Archives

Through the looking glass...darkly, finally

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Note: The Sun-Times prep volleyball preview was scheduled to run last Tuesday. A few things have changed since then. Those changes are not reflected here.

By Phil Brozynski

Last season was a magical mystery tour of sorts for Kelly Lamberti and her Cary-Grove teammates, the kind of stuff only a paperback writer could conceive.

"It's still kind of unreal that we did it," said Lamberti, the 6-foot outside hitter and admitted Beatles fanatic who led Cary-Grove to its first state title with a stunning 25-23, 25-16 victory over Lyons in the 2009 Class 4A state championship match.

Although she admits it seems like only yesterday, there is no slowing down Lamberti as she prepares for the new season.

"I'm really excited," she said. "We will have a much younger team and it will be hard to replace Abbey (Heredia), Colleen (Hargrove) and Kayla (Klinger). But everybody has a really positive attitude and we are setting goals for ourselves each week."

Lamberti's goal is simple. She wants to touch 10 feet. Coach Patty Langanis' goal for Lamberti is also simple - act naturally.

"Kelly brings so much to our program," Langanis said. "Not only does she bring great skill and knowledge, she also brings an unmatched work ethic and unselfish attitude that are rare to find in an athlete who possesses the kind of talent Kelly has."

Lamberti has always stood out from the pack. Taller than most of her teammates, she played middle hitter when at age 11 she followed in the volleyball footsteps of older sister Lauren, now a senior at the University of Connecticut.

"I was really tall when I was younger," Lamberti said. "Now I'm only six feet."

Lamberti probably won't get any taller, but the Ohio University recruit has spent a lot of time in the weight room to get stronger and reach her goal.

"Weight training helps me a lot," Lamberti said. "It helps my shoulders and my vertical, too. We lift four days a week out of season and twice a week during the season. It's not a lot of fun, but we listen to music when we lift. We dance around in the weightroom, too."

More Beatles music?

"We usually listen to whatever is on the coach's I-Pod," Lamberti said. "She listens to some of the same stuff we do."

However, no matter what music Lamberti and her teammates are dancing to, she is confident the Trojans can take that long and winding road down to Bloomington again this fall.

"The thing that really sets this apart is our team chemistry," she said. "This is a very close team."

So close that sometimes it must feel like they are together eight days a week.


Sun-Times Top 10 Teams

1. Benet- There's talent everywhere. Lara Ontko and Kaitlyn King are returning starters. Juniors Meghan Haggerty and Jenna Jendryk played for a national championship AAU team, and Villanova nabbed 6-3 junior Gabby Pethokoukis.

2. Cary-Grove - Can Kelly Lamberti be any better than she was in last year's finals against Lyons? Can Colleen Smith make everyone forget Abbey Heredia? Can Ashley Rosch continue to dominate the net? Can Melanie Jereb step up outside?

3. Lyons - Six-foot junior Alexis Viliunas, 6-2 senior Jocelyn Birks, junior defensive whiz Megan Miller, 5-10 junior Laura Williams and setter Erin Juley return from last year's Class 4A runner-up. However, the Lions need help in the middle.

4. Marist - The Redhawks welcome back Northwestern-bound libero Caroline Niedospial, 6-1 senior Katie Krasowski, setter Ashley Holder, 6-4 sophomore Lauren Zielinski and defensive specialist Molly Murphy from a 28-9 regional champion.

5. Hinsdale Central - Five-foot-9 do-it-all Natalie Skiba, libero Jamie Netisingha, 6-1 junior outside smasher Ally Davis and 6-0 middle Katarina Milojevic return from a team that fell to Benet in the sectional finals.

6. St. Charles East - Last fall, the Saints were unable to duplicate their magical 2008 finish. Junior outside Meghan Niski, sophomore Erienne Barry and 6-1 senior Olivia DeSormey are hoping no magic will be necessary.

7. Lemont - If the Indians are going to escape the sectional, this has to be the year. Five-foot-10 outside hitter Courtney Keefe, 6-0 middle Danielle Susz, setter Vicki Wrobel and libero Melissa Bograd are back for another try.

8. Sandburg - Jenny Buczek and Amanda Kijewski are among the top outside tandems around, while 5-11 Val Cutrone and 6-foot Meg Opferman handle the middle. Setter Genna Pavone started two years ago when the Eagles ran a 6-2.

9. Mother McAuley - Loyola-bound Mary Kate Styler, and 5-10 middle Maddie McElroy and Liz Scanlon will power the Macs' offense, while 5-5 juniors Bridget Powell and Jackie Aird make sure nothing hits the floor behind them.

10. West Chicago - From zero wins in 2007 to 22 in 2009. Six-foot-2 middle Emily Paschke, 5-9 junior Julia Conard and 6-3 sophomore Andrea Skipor have their sites set on more than just the DuPage Valley Conference title.

Others: Chicago Christian, Evanston, Hinsdale South, Huntley, Joliet Catholic, Payton, Providence, St. Charles North, St. Francis, York.


Sun-Times Top 50 Players

Amelia Anderson, 6-1, Jr., MH, Crystal Lake Central
Mandy Beniac, 5-4, Sr., L, Lincoln-Way North
Jocelyn Birks, 6-2, Sr., OH, Lyons
Jenny Buczek, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Hannah Burkle, 6-2, Sr., MH, Crystal Lake South
Lauren Carlini, 6-0, So., S/OH, West Aurora
Ellen Chapman, 6-5, Sr., OH, Glenbrook South
Delaney Clesen, 5-8, Sr., L, Evanston
Julia Conard, 5-9, Jr., OH, West Chicago
Hannah Crippen, 6-0, Sr., S, Plainfield North
Chelsea Cunningham, 6-0, Sr., MH, Whitney Young
Ally Davis, 6-1, Jr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Amy Dion, 5-6, Jr., L, Huntley
Mari Faines, 6-2, Sr., MH, Payton
Kaisley Fisher, 6-3, Sr., MH, Plainfield North
Tracy Friel, 5-10, Sr., S, Crystal Lake Central
Alexandra Funk, 5-10, Sr., OH, Lake Forest
Meghan Haggerty, 6-2, Jr., MH, Benet
Sarah Hunt, 6-3, Sr., MH, Prospect
Jenna Jendryk, 6-0, Jr., S/OH, Benet
Tyler Jones, 5-11, Sr., OH, Jones College Prep
Madison Kamp, 6-2, Sr., S, Chicago Christian
Courtney Keefe, 5-11, Sr., OH, Lemont
Amanda Kijewski, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Shealyn Kolosky, 6-2, Sr., MH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0, Sr., OH, Cary-Grove
Gina Madonia, 5-6, Sr., DS, St. Francis
Jessi Mainczyk, 5-8, Sr., OH, Queen of Peace
Nora Mitros, 6-1, Jr., OH, Providence
Molly Murphy, 5-5, Sr., DS, Marist
Caroline Niedospial, 5-8, Sr., L, Marist
Meghan Niski, 5-10, Jr., OH, St. Charles East
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-6, Sr., L, Johnsburg
Lara Ontko, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Amanda Orchard, 6-0, Sr., MB, Lake Zurich
Emily Paschke, 6-2, Sr., MH, West Chicago
Caroline Rose, 5-6, Jr., OH, York
Michelle Schultz, 5-8, Jr., OH, Payton
Natalia Skiba, 5-9, Sr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Colleen Smith, 6-0, Sr., S, Cary-Grove
Martha Stewart, 5-11, Sr., OH, Waubonsie Valley
Mary Kate Styler, 6-0, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Danielle Susz, 6-0, Sr., MH, Lemont
Courtney Thomas, 6-1, Sr., OH, DeKalb
Jessie Tulacka, 6-1, Jr., OH, Downers Grove North
Alexis Viliunas, 6-1, Jr., OH/S, Lyons
Meg Vonderhaar, 6-1, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Lainey Wyman, 6-1, Sr., MH, Joliet Catholic
Emily Young, 6-1, Sr., OH, Schaumburg

Benet is not alone in its anxiety

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No. 1 in the state? No. 7 in the nation?

Well, nobody's perfect.

Benet's 2010 debut gave credence to the adage that games are won on the court, not in the media (print, web or otherwise). The Redwings were awful Tuesday in their 25-19, 25-23 loss to visiting St. Charles East, committing 18 errors (unofficially) in Game 1 and almost 10 more in Game 2.

"We counted 20 errors in the first game," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "The game is only to 25."

Trailing 17-14 in Game 2, Benet was also penalized a point when two players tried to substitute after the referee whistled play to begin. About the only thing that did go right for the Redwings' was Lara Ontko's ace off the tape down 21-19.

Benet did rally from a 20-15 deficit in Game 2 -- after squandering a 12-9 lead under the weight of a 7-0 run by St. Charles East -- to tie at 22-22. But guess what? A Benet service error gave St. Charles East the lead for keeps.

"We did clean it up a little bit in Game 2," Baker said. "St. Charles East played well. Give credit to them."

At least Benet can take solace in the fact that they were not the only nationally-ranked team to go down in the first week of the season. At least not within a couple hundred miles.

In Indiana, defending state champion Muncie Central, ranked No. 26 in the nation and No. 2 in the state, lost to unheralded Yorktown in five sets last week (Indiana's season opened a week earlier than Illinois').

Yorktown pulled off the stunner despite graduating five starters from last year's Class 3A runner-up. At least St. Charles East returns all but two starters from last year's supersectional qualifier.

Benet will try to redeem itself this weekend when it hosts the Benet invitational which features York, Lemont, Hinsdale Central and Waubonsie Valley.

****

Evanston is off to a 2-0 starter after beating Loyola Wednesday. The Wildkits will be a tall order for most teams with 6-3 Casey Durham (11 kills vs. the Ramblers) and 6-2 Maddie Fitzpatrick (eight kills, five blocks) patrolling the net.

Marian Central is also 2-0 after defeating Glenbard West and St. Joseph at Wheaton North Wednesday. Marian could make a push to get downstate in Class 3A if the IHSA continues to route it away from the Crystal Lake schools.

Finally, far south siders are marking their calendars for Tuesday, September 14. That's when Mother McAuey and Marist collide on 115th and Kedzie. This game means nothing (Marist has yet to prove it can beat McAuley in the state tournament) -- and everyting (the winner does get bragging rights for two months or until they meet again).

AVCA has its eye on 44 players from Illinois

courtney keefe lemont.jpgLemont's Courtney Keefe (right) is on the AVCA watch list.


The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) recenty released its list of 382 players from 38 states who are on the watch list for selection to the 2010-2011 Under Armour All-America team.

Forty-four players from Illinois are on the list. Student-athletes must have completed their senior year of eligibility, their head coach must be a member in good standing of AVCA, and the coach must use MaxPreps.com to distribute data.

The 24 players selected to the first team will be invited to participate in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition in conjunction with the 2010 AVCA Annual Convention December 18 in Kansas City, Mo.

The players on the watch list from Illinois are:

Alina Agamy, 5-9, DS, Bloomington
Lauren Arnold, 5-11, OH, Moline
Katherine Battle, 5-9, DS, Naperville Central
Jocelyn Birks 6-3, OH, Lyons
Melissa Bograd, 5-7, DS, Lemont
Jillian Briner, 5-10, S/RS, Oak Park
Sierra Burris, 5-8, L/OH, Illini Central
Ellen Chapman, 6-4, OH, Glenbrook South
Victoria Clifford, 5-3, DS, Glenbard West
Kara Conway, 6-1, M, New Trier
Hannah Crippen, 6-0, S, Plainfield North
Morganne Criswell, 6-1, MB, Decatur Lutheran
Chelsey Cunningham, 6-0, MB, Whitney Young
Alexis Davito, 5-9, OH, Lockport
Jenna Duddleston, 5-8, S, De La Salle
Mari Faines, 6-2, MB, Walter Payton Prep
Kaisley Fisher, 6-2, MB/RS, Plainfield North
Tracy Friel, 5-10, S, Crystal Lake Central
Kristin Heldt, 6-3, MB/OH, Peotone
Chelsi Hummert, 5-11, S/OH, Freeburg
Erin Juley, 5-10, RS/S, Lyons
Courtney Keefe, 5-11, OH, Lemont
Shealyn Kolosky, 6-2, MB, Wheaton Warrenville South
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0, OH, Cary-Grove
Morgan Leach, 6-3, MB, Champaign Centennial
Laura Luczak, 6-0, L, Glenbard West
Molly McCoy, 6-0, OH, Wheaton Academy
Claire Miller, 5-11, OH, New Trier
Molly Murphy, 5-5, DS/L, Marist
Jamie Netisingha, 5-4, L, Hinsdale Central
Val Nichol, 6-0, L/S, Normal U-High
Caroline Niedospial, 5-6, L, Marist
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-6, L, Johnsburg
Haley Norris, 5-4, DS/L, Rosary
Lara Ontko, 5-11, DS/OH, Benet Academy
Kayla Price, 5-9, S, Fremd
Kaley Sierawski, 6-1, MB/OH, Palatine
Colleen Smith, 6-0, S, Cary-Grove
Courtney Thomas, 6-0, OH/S, DeKalb
Meg Vonderhaar, 6-2, OH, St. Francis
Julia Watkins, 5-11, MB, Lyons
Lainey Wyman, 6-1, MB, Joliet Catholic
Emily Young, 6-2, RS/S, Schaumburg

***

Kaitlyn King, a 5-foot-9 senior setter at Benet Academy, has verbally committed to play Division I volleyball at the University of Maryland.

"I absolutely love everything about Maryland, especially the direction the volleyball program is going, the coaches and the Comcast Center," King said. "When I visited, I knew immediately this is where I wanted to be."

King set last year's team that went 35-5 and advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to Quincy in the Normal supersectional. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the honor roll every semester at Benet.

Meanwhile, teammate Jenna Jendryk, a 6-foot junior setter/opposite hitter, has verbally committed to play Division I volleyball at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Jendryk played for Sports Performance's AAU 18 Open division national champion.

"Jenna is high level athlete who comes from a great volleyball family," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "She has an extremely fast arm and her great athletism allows for to be a difference-maker on the court."

Jendryk was a member of the 2008 Benet team that finished second in the state and played middle hitter for last year's 35-5 team.

Lions and Trojans and Redwings...oh, my!

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Benet or Lyons? Lyons or Cary-Grove? Cary-Grove or Benet?

As strong as the Chicago area is, it is hard to imagine anybody but one of those three teams walking away with the big-school trophy when the Illinois High School Association's 37th state championships convene in Bloomington in November.

Cary-Grove defeated Lyons to win the Class 4A title last year in what was perhaps the biggest surprise since tiny Hartsburg-Emden (population: 86 students) defeated Breese Central to win the Class A title in 2006.

Six-foot senior Kelly Lamberti was the architect of the upset over favored Lyons, morphing from solid performer to superwoman in a matter of matches during the Trojans' trip to the trophy stand.

Lamberti outdueled 6-foot-5 Ellen Chapman in Cary-Grove's 19-15, 25-17, 27-25 semifinal victory over Glenbrook South. But even that performance paled compared to her one-woman show in the 25-23, 25-16 championship victory over Lyons.

Lamberti has not rested on her laurels.

"Kelly has hit the weight room hard, has developed more shots and is continuously making improvements defensively," coach Patty Langanis said.

But will it be enough? Will Lamberti's hard work allow the Trojans to overcome the loss of setter Abbey Heredia and middle blocker Colleen Hargrove? Can Lamberti, middle Ashley Rosch and setter Colleen Smith hold off Lyons and Benet?

Lyons may not need help winning the state title just about everyone thought was theirs for the taking last year. The Lions return most of their big guns from 2009, including 6-0 junior Alexis Viliunas, 6-2 outside Jocelyn Birks, 5-10 junior outside Laura Williams and setter Erin Juley.

Viliunas is sidelined until mid-September with her wrist in a cast and Juley is still recovering from knee surgey, but the real issue down the road for the Lions is in middle where only seldom-used Julia Watkins returns from last year's 37-5 team.

That is a weakness Benet can exploit. The Redwings, a disappointment in 2008 and a surprising supersectional loser in 2009, are huge and hungry.

Start with 6-foot-2 junior Meghan Haggerty, a starter on Sports Performance's 18-1 Open division AAU championship team. Add 6-foot junior Jenna Jendryk, a setter by trade who saw time in the middle for last year's 35-5 team.

Need some size off the bench? How about 6-foot-1 junior McKenzie Kuhn or 6-3 junior Gabby Pethokoukis (soon to be a favorite of agate clerks everywhere)? Or maybe coach Brad Baker will reach down into the freshman depths to pluck 6-foot freshman Madeline Haggerty, a player everyone will soon be talking about.

Baker can also call on 5-11 outside Lara Ontko, 5-11 outside Alyson Farm and 5-9 setter Kaitlyn King. The best battle of training camp may be at libero, where Kathleen Severyn and Grace Girardot vie for the slot vacated by Kansas recruit Brianne Riley.

"We return 11 players who were with us during last year's playoff run," Baker said. "We are pretty big and have experience and depth. The expectations are pretty high."

Expectations are also pretty high at Marist. The RedHawks lost only one starter off last year's 29-9 team - outside hitter Molly Murphy - and return two of the best defensive players in the state in libero Caroline Niedospial and defensive specialist Molly Murphy.

Offensively, Marist will rely on 5-foot-7 senior setter Ashley Holder, head coach Natalie Holder's daughter, to get the ball to 5-11 outside hitter Courtney Collins and 6-foot-4 junior Lauren Zielinski.

People may never know how good Hinsdale Central is. That's because the Red Devils continue to find themselves opposite Benet at some point along the state tournament road. Last year, the two teams collided in the sectional finals at Lockport.

Hinsdale Central is capable of getting there again in 2010. The Red Devils are powered by 6-foot-1 junior Ally Davis and 5-9 all-everything Natalia Skiba. Libero Jamie Netisingha is as good as it gets in the backrow, but Nikki DelZenero's graduation leaves a void at setter.

A state champion in 2008, St. Charles East was a physical trainwreck by the end of last season when it lost to Cary-Grove in a Class 4A supersectional. But if healthy, the Saints will be formidable again this fall.

"It is going to be tough to replace Caroline (Niski) and Jacqui (Seidel), but at the end of last season we really did not have them at full strength," St. Charles East coach Jennifer Kull said. "We did not have Caroline at all."

St. Charles East returns three starters from its state titlist of two years ago - 5-10 junior Meghan Niski, libero Maisey Mulvey and 6-2 middle Olivia Desormey. Joining that trio will be sophomore setter Erienne Barry, outside Sam Szarmach and middle Nicole Lambert. Barry, a tall, confident setter, and Lambert, a big block, started last year.

If St. Charles is going to return to the trophy stand, the Saints will likely have to get past two of these three teams: York, West Chicago and St. Charles North. West Chicago, winless three years ago, boasts one of the best all-around players in the state in junior Julia Conard.

St. Charles North returns four starters and seven of its top players from last year's 25-12 team, including 6-0 junior Jill Stolzenburg and 6-foot junior outside Kim Juriga, whose father is former Illinois and Denver Broncos guard Jim Juriga.

Challenging Marist for supremacy on the south side of Chicago will be Providence, Mother McAuley and Sandburg. Providence has a new coach and a budding superstar in junior Nora Mitros, while Sandburg has two exceptional outsides in Jenny Buczek and Amanda Kijewski.

Sandburg is coming off a disappointing finish to 2009. The Eagles were the top seed at Class 4A (Blue Island) Eisenhower sectional. But Mother McAuley pulled off a 26-24, 23-25, 25-10 stunner n the sectional finals.

Despite losing its top four attackers- Jessica Falk, Jessica Galotta, Ellen Carberry and Paulina Sambor - to graduation, 13-time state champion McAuley has to be included in any Illinois volleyball conversation.

Other teams that could be in the mix in the Chicago area include Evanston, which features 6-3 junior outside Casey Durham, 5-8 libero Delaney Clesen and 6-2 middle Maddie Fitzpatrick; and St. Ignatius, with 5-10 sophomore Sophia Dodd and 5-10 senior Kate Aronson.

Among the downstate Illinois big-school hopefuls are Moline, which is searching for a new setter to feed Marquisha Harris, Lauren Arnold and Lexie Holst following the graduation of Sarah Fetter (Illinois State), and Sam Epenesa-led Edwardsville.

Class 3A

Lemont coach Chris Zogata figures this is her best chance to get a team downstate. She's had almost no chance before this season.

Lemont's path to Bloomington has been blocked by St. Francis and Joliet Catholic, which between them have won seven state titles since 2002. Last year, the Indians were ousted from the state tournament by the hosts in the Class 3A sectional at St. Francis

But both Joliet Catholic and St. Francis have suffered huge graduation losses. St. Francis said farewell to Kelsey Robinson, the best player in Illinois last year not named Hickey, and setter Kristen Kelsay. Joliet Catholic bid adieu to Annemarie Hickey, outside Alyssa Warren and setter Jennifer Murphy.

Lemont, meanwhile, returns intact from a year ago. Led by 5-11 outside hitter Courtney O'Keefe, 6-foot middle Danielle Susz, defensive whiz Melissa Bograd and 5-7 setter Vicki Wrobel, the Indians hope to break the parochial stranglehold on the state's toughest sectional.

But neither St. Francis nor Joliet Catholic will be easy outs. St. Francis welcomes back four-year starter Meg Vonderhaar, who blossomed over the summer with Sports Performance's 18-1 team, 6-foot middle Davia Wise and 5-4 libero Gina Madonia.

The Spartans also welcome back Kelly Reinke, who was slated to share setting duties with Kelsay before tearing an ACL during preseason practice in 2009. If Reinke falters, sophomore McKenna Kelsay could step in. Outside/middle hitter Halley Gable is another player to watch.

"The lineup is really unset," said St. Francis coach Peg Kopec, who eclipsed the 1,000-career victory mark last season. "We have strong 'others,' but not a true standout at this point. We do have lots of potential."

Potential is the key word at Joliet Catholic, where the graduation of Hickey, Warren, Murphy, Claire Randich and Stephanie Keca also means the loss of 80 percent of the Angels' kills and more than 90 percent of their assists and digs.

Six-foot-1 senior middle and Mississippi State recruit Lainey Wyman (150 kills in 2009) and little-used 5-10 senior outside Jordan Huston (60 kills) are all that is back for the two-time defending Class 3A state champions,

"We will have a very different look this year," Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe said. "I feel we are coming back with a strong team, but might lack the varsity experience we need early in the season."

A weaker Joliet Catholic is good news for Breese Mater Dei, which reached the Class 3A championship match last year only to be denied Fred Rakers' sixth state title by Hickey and the Angels, 25-20, 25-23.

There may be no stopping the Knights in 2010. Mater Dei returns one of the best outside hitters in the Class of 2012 in 5-9 Brooke Schulte, who amassed more than 300 kills and a team-high 85 aces last year to go along with nearly 100 blocks.

Also back are junior setter Samantha Bedard and 6-foot middle hitter Abby Winter, and seniors Kaley Boeckmann, Nicole Strieker and Alison Mueller. Boeckmann was second on the team in kills and third in blocks as a junior.

But Mater Dei's path to the finals will be treacherous. Last year, the Knights had to avenge two earlier losses to Belleville Althoff to get out of the regional at Centralia. Althoff is likely to be waiting for Mater Dei again this fall.

The Crusaders graduated 6-1 setter Carly Thomas, libero Megan Palowski and the Nesbitt twins - Madeline and Maureen - but return a solid nucleus in 6-foot middle hitter Me'Ashah Nicholson, 5-11 outside Missy Muckensturm, and 5-7 setter Hilary Keltner.

Newcomers to watch at Althoff include 5-11 junior Madeline Schoen, 5-9 junior middle Lizzie Kurowski, 5-6 junior libero Abby Allard and 5-8 junior setter/outside hitter Sara Birk.

Payton shocked the volleyball world in 2008 by becoming the first Chicago Public School to reach the state semifinals in any class. If the Grizzlies get there again this fall, it would not be considered much of a surprise.

"My little babies are all grown up," Payton coach Joel Anderson said. "For the first time in my four years, we have a veteran varsity squad. We return all but one starter from last year's team. With everyone healthy, this team has the components to be a Final Four team."

Anderson's optimism is fueled by the return of 5-6 senior setter Roxanne Rivera, who was injured all of 2009 after enjoying an all-city season as a freshman and sophomore. Also back are 6-2 middle Mari Faines, 6-2 middle Hannah Rehak and 5-8 outside Michelle Schultz.

Six-foot-1 middle hitter Amelia Anderson had more than 300 kills to lead Crystal Lake Central to a fourth-place finish in 2009. And she was only a sophomore. Anderson is back, as are setter Tracy Friel and outsides Tara Weber and Courtney Kiolbassa.

Other teams to watch in Class 3A are Normal U-High, which is led by 6-1 senior Purdue recruit Valerie Nichol, (Chicago) Jones and 2009 Chicago Public School Player of the Year Tyler Jones (University of Illinois-Chicago), and Huntley, with juniors Amy Dion and Ashley Smith.

Class 2A

Southwestern Illinois powerhouse Freeburg won its second straight state title in 2009, and it would not be outside the realm of possibility that the Midgets make it three in a row given the returning talent greeting coach Lesa Bolt.

Freeburg will be powered by 5-foot-11 senior Chelsi Hummert, who did a little of everything for the Midgets last year. Hummert amassed more than 250 kills, 45 blocks, 40 aces and 490 assists in 2009, leading the team in three of the four categories.

Hummert, who played for SWI 17 Smack during the club season, will be supported by 6-foot junior middle Kelsey Mueller, 5-5 junior setter Kacey Wahlig, 6-foot outside Lucy Balich and 5-5 libero Maddy Hogan.

However, Freeburg will probably have to get past Benton to reach Bloomington. The Rangerettes, who went 30-6 and lost to powerful Murphysboro in the sectional semifinals, lost only one starter to graduation.

Benton coach Tony Phelps, who is 33 victories shy of 500 for his career, will build his 2010 squad around a pair of all-Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference selections in Sydney Potts, a 5-foot-8 senior outside hitter, and 5-6 senior setter Dymin Hayes.

Other players to watch at Benton this fall are 5-7 senior outside Natalie Taylor, 5-9 senior outside Sami Bybee, 5-9 senior middle Megan Conner, 5-5 senior libero Paige Hughey, 5-4 senior libero Paige Sullivan and 5-8 junior outside Lindsay Hathcoat.

Awaiting the winner of the Deep South super-sectional could be 2009 state finalist (Palos Heights) Chicago Christian, which fell to Freeburg 25-18, 26-24 in last year's state championship match.

Fans only need to remember one name at Chicago Christian - Kamp. There are four of them - Madison, Maggie, Stacey and Emily. Madison Kamp, a 6-1 senior setter, had more than 665 assists and nearly 100 kills for the Knights in 2009.

Stacey Kamp is a 5-11 senior who added almost 150 kills to the cause a year ago, while Maggie and Emily saw limited time. Two other returning starters from last year's 28-11 team are 6-foot middle Becky DeRuiter and 5-7 libero Celaine Haan

Chicago Christian toughened its schedule last year by joining the Suburban Christian Conference against the likes of (Wheaton) St. Francis and (Woodstock) Marian Central, and should be battle-ready by the time the state tournament rolls around.

Decatur St. Teresa was bounced by Effingham St. Anthony in a sectional final and graduated the very talented Emily Less, but juniors Claire Raycraft, Alexis Clemons and setter Jordan Wooden return for another run at the Class 2A title.

Other teams to watch in Class 2A include Carlinville, which took home the third-place trophy in 2009 for veteran coach Fran Struble and welcomes back Kelsey Card and the Graham twins - Carlee and Katie - and Massac County.

Class 1A

(Lanark) Eastland can join some exclusive company this year. Only three teams have won three consecutive state titles - Mother McAuley, Breese Mater Dei and St. Francis - but the Cougars will be trying to crash the club.

Eastland should be amply armed to defend its crown, too. Back from last year's 40-2 team are 5-8 setter Hope Linker (more than 900 assists), 6-1 middle blocker Courtney Blair (270 kills, 160 blocks) and 5-8 outside Katelyn Hasken (240 kills).

Among the teams that will try to deny Eastland another title is last year's state championship match foe, Mt. Pulaski. The young Toppers return two of their top hitters in 5-11 middle Samantha Nichols and 5-9 outside Haley Bowles.

Mt. Pulaski coach Donna Dulle, who is just 11 wins shy of 900 for her career, also welcomes back sophomore setters Jessica Awe and Breanna Howe and 5-8 sophomore outside hitter Rachel Durchholz.

Another team to keep an eye on is (Albion) Edwards County, which was 34-2 heading into the Bridgeport Red Hill sectional championship game in 2009 before being felled by Little Illini Conference foe Toledo Cumberland 25-22, 8-25, 25-23.

Four starters return for the Lions, including 5-6 senior outside Taylor Kelsey, 6-0 senior middle Audray Krajec, 5-6 junior setter Rilee Kelsey and 5-7 senior middle Ashlyn Garner. Edwards County is trying to get back downstate for the first time since 2007.

Other teams to watch in Class 1A include Illini Central, (Toledo) Cumberland and (Springfield) Lutheran, the latter dropping down in class after reaching the Class 2A sectional finals last year.

Springfield Lutheran boasts 6-2 junior Abby Heise and freshman Jeslyn Roat from nearby Greenview.


Illinois' Top 20 girls volleyball teams

1. (Lisle) Benet (Last year's record: 35-5; Last year's finish: lost to Quincy in Class 4A supersectional) -- Juniors Meghan Haggerty and Jenna Jendryk cut their teeth with the AAU 18 division national champs from Sports Performance. Experience won't be an issue.

2. Cary-Grove (Last year's record: 36-4; Last year's finish: defeated Lyons to win Class 4A state championship) -- Kelly Lamberti was unstoppable in Bloomington last year, Ashley Rosch was a beast at the net and the Trojans will not miss a beat with Colleen Smith taking over at setter.

3. Lyons (Last year's record: 37-5; Last year's finish: lost to Cary-Grove in Class 4A championship) -- With 6-foot Alexis Viliunas' wrist in a cast until mid-September and back-up setter Erin Juley still getting over an ACL, it may take away for Lyons to find its form.

4. Breese Mater Dei (Last year's record: 35-7; Last year's finish: lost to Joliet Catholic in Class 3A state championship) - Fred Rakers (five state titles) is chasing St. Francis' Peg Kopec (seven) among Illinois' active coaches. Is this the year he draws closer?

5. Marist (Last year's record: 29-9; Last year's finish: lost to Mother McAuley in Class 4A sectional semifinal) -- The Redhawks should be clearly better than their south side rivals this fall. Of course, that does not mean that they will beat the Macs in the state tournament.

6. Hinsdale Central (Last year's record: 33-6; Last year's finish: lost to Benet in Class 4A sectional final) -- Five-foot-9 senior all-everything Natalia Skiba and 6-foot-1 junior Ally Davis are two of the best players in the western suburbs. But Benet keeps getting in the way.

7. Lemont (Last year's record: 30-8; Last year's finish: lost to St. Francis in Class 3A sectional semifinal) -- Is this the year Lemont finally gets past St. Francis and Joliet Catholic? With six starters back, this will be the Indians' best shot at winning the state's toughest sectional.

8. St. Charles East (Last year's record: 32-7; Last year's finish: lost to Cary-Grove in Class 4A supersectional) -- Last fall, the Saints were unable to duplicate their magical 2008 finish. Meghan Niski, Erienne Barry and Olivia DeSormey are hoping no magic will be necessary.

9. Sandburg (Last year's record 32-7; Last year's finish: lost to Mother McAuley in Class 4A sectional championship) - Summer does not mean all that much. Nevertheless, the Eagles did not drop a set while winning the Palos Courts Summer League.

10. Mother McAuley (Last year's record: 29-11; Last year's finish: lost to Lyons in Class 4A sectional final) - Outside hitter Mary Kate Styler, libero Bridget Powell and setter Kailey Scott are back for the Mighty Macs, who somehow always find a way to get it done.

11. West Chicago (Last year's record: 22-15; Last year's finish: lost to York in Class 4A regional final) - DuPage Valley Conference favorites? There isn't anything Julia Conard cannot do, and very little 6-3 Emily Pachke and 6-3 Andrea Skipor cannot block.

12. Providence (Last year's record: 17-20; Last year's finish: lost to Stagg in Class 4A regional final) - Rachel Ellingson takes over for Nan Airola, who returned after more than 30 years as a teacher and coach. Junior Nora Mitros and her supporting cast return intact.

13. York (Last year's record: 28-9; Last year's finish: lost to St. Charles East in Class 4A sectional final) - The Dukes try to overcome the loss of Lauren Zerante behind juniors Caroline Rose, Katie Gallagher and Morgan Semmelhack and setter Emily Iverson.

14. St. Francis (Last year's record: 35-3; Last year's finish: lost to Joliet Catholic in Class 3A sectional final) - How do you replace Kelsey Robinson (Tennessee) and Kristen Kelsay (Michigan State)? Meg Vonderhaar, Gina Madonia and Daiva Wise have big sneakers to fill.

15. Joliet Catholic (Last year's record: 41-1; Last year's finish: defeated Breese Mater Dei to win Class 3A state title) - Six-foot-2 middle Lainey Wyman and little used outside Jordan Huston are the sum total of experience for the defending Class 3A champions.

16. Payton (Last year's record: 28-8; Last year's finish: lost to Nazareth in Class 3A sectional championship) - Joel Anderson toughened his team's schedule to include trips to Effingham and Quincy. But a healthy Roxanne Rivera is the key to the Grizzlies' season.

17. Freeburg (Last year's record: 38-2; Last year's finish: defeated Chicago Christian to win Class 2A state title) - Three-peat? Why not. There is plenty of talent coming back led by Chelsi Hummert, who led the team in kills, aces and assists.

18. Chicago Christian (Last year's record: 28-11; Last year's finish: lost to Freeburg in Class 2A state championship match) - The Kamps - Madison, Maggie, Stacy and Emily - could be all that stands between Freeburg and another state title.

19. Lanark Eastland (Last year's record: 40-2; Last year's finish: defeated Mt. Pulaski to win Class 1A state title) -- The Cougars get a slight nod over Mt.Pulaski as the best of the smallest schools thanks to setter Hope Linker and 6-1 middle Courtney Blair.

20. Normal U-High (Last year's record: 32-7 ; Last year's finish: lost to Sycamore in Class 3A supersectional) - Six-foot-1 outside hitter Valerie Nichol and the Pioneers are the best "big school" in the Bloomington/Peoria area.

The top 250 players in Illinois

Alina Agamy, 5-10, Sr., OH/S, Bloomington
Tina Aguirre, 5-9, Jr., OH, Rantoul
Katie Aiello, 5-5, Jr., L, St. Edward
Jessica Allhands, 5-11, Jr., OH, Watseka
Amelia Anderson, 6-1, Jr., MH, Crystal Lake Central
Emma Anderson, 5-10, Sr., OH, Lincoln
Dominique Aramburu, 5-6, Jr., DS, Mother McAuley
Lauren Arnold, 6-0, Sr., OH, Moline
Kate Aronson, 5-10, Sr., OH, St. Ignatius
Ryann Arundel, 5-8, Jr., S, Mother McAuley
Lucy Balich, 6-0, Sr., OH, Freeburg
Erienne Barry, 5-10, So., S, St. Charles East
Klaudia Basierak, 6-0, Jr., MH, Grayslake Central
Alyssa Basnik, 5-10, So., S, Naperville Central
Emily Becker, 6-0, So., MB, Belleville West
Kaitlyn Beckow, 5-11, Sr., MH, Evergreen Park
Samantha Bedard, 5-7, So., S, Breese Mater Dei
Camissa Beghou, 6-0, Sr., OH, New Trier
Mandy Beniac, 5-4, Sr., L, Lincoln-Way North
Kelly Berryman, 6-1, Sr., MH, Normal U-High
Sara Birk, 5-7, So., S, Belleville Althoff
Jocelyn Birks, 6-2, Sr., OH, Lyons
Michelle Bivens, 5-6, Sr., OH, Valmeyer
Courtney Blair, 6-1, Sr., MB, Lanark Eastland
Meredith Boe, 5-10, Jr., S, Bloomington Central Catholic
Kaley Boeckmann, 5-11, Sr., OH, Breese Mater Dei
Sam Boesch, 5-10, Jr., OH, Huntley
Melissa Bograd, 5-7, Sr., L, Lemont
Haley Bowles, 5-9, Sr., OH, Mt. Pulaski
Taylor Boyer, 5-3, Sr., L, Belleville East
Jessica Brezwyn, 5-9, So., OH, Hinsdale South
Brittany Brown, 5-11, Jr., OH, Nazareth
Jenny Buczek, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Carley Bunting, 5-8, Sr., OH, Johnston City
Elle Burchett, 5-10, Sr., OH, Providence
Emily Burger, 5-10, Jr., S, Bloomington
Hannah Burkle, 6-2, Sr., MH, Crystal Lake South
Sierra Burris, 5-9, Sr., OH, Illini Central
Emma Cabutti, 5-9, Jr., OH, Mahomet-Seymour
Serena Calhoun, 5-8, Sr., MH, Danville Schlarman
Kelsey Card, 5-10, Sr., OH, Carlinville
Lauren Carlini, 6-0, So., S/OH, West Aurora
Megan Casagrande, 5-11, Jr., MH, St. Thomas More
Stephanie Cathcart, 6-0, So., MB, Trenton Wesclin
Ellen Chapman, 6-5, Sr., OH, Glenbrook South
Alexis Clemons, Jr., Decatur St. Teresa
Delaney Clesen, 5-8, Sr., S, Evanston
Mariah Coleman, So., MH, Broadlands Heritage
Courtney Collins, 5-10, Sr., OH, Marist
Julia Conard, 5-9, Jr., OH, West Chicago
Hannah Crippen, 6-0, Sr., S, Plainfield North
Morganne Criswell, 6-1, Sr., MB, Decatur LSA
Madison Croft, 6-0, Sr., MB, Edwardsville
Chelsea Cunningham, 6-0, Sr., MH, Whitney Young
Ally Davis, 6-1, Jr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Sarah Dent, 5-9, Sr., OH, Von Steuben
Maddie DePorter, 5-11, Sr., MB, Orion
Becky DeRuiter, 6-0, So., MH. Chicago Christian
Olivia Desormey, 6-1, Sr., MH, St. Charles East
Nicole DeVries, 5-9, Sr., S, Orangeville
Amy Dion, 5-6, Jr., L, Huntley
Kelsey Dirks, 6-3, Jr., MH, Robinson
Sophia Dodd, 5-10, So., S, St. Ignatius
Olivia Downs, 5-6, Sr., L, Fisher
Amy Drabant, 5-11, Sr., S, Wheaton Warrenville South
Jenna Duddlestun, 5-8, Jr., S, DeLaSalle
Rachel Durchholz, 5-8, So., OH, Mt. Pulaski
Casey Durham, 6-3, Jr., OH, Evanston
Samantha Epenesa, 6-0, Jr., OH, Edwardsville
Emily Eyer, 6-0, Sr., MB, Bloomington
Mari Faines, 6-2, Sr., MH, Payton
Tori Falter, 6-1, Sr., MH, Chatham Glenwood
Alyson Farm, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Britanny Finke, 5-10, Jr., OH, Harvard
Kaisley Fisher, 6-3, Sr., MH, Plainfield North
Maddie Fitzpatrick, 6-2, Sr., MB, Evanston
Dakota Flesner, 5-7, Sr., OH, Payson Seymour
Sam Fournier, 6-1, Sr., OH, Moline
Tracy Friel, 5-10, Sr., S, Crystal Lake Central
Alexandra Funk, 5-10, Sr., OH, Lake Forest
Kennedy Gabel, 5-4, Sr., OH, Toledo Cumberland
Katie Gallagher, 5-8, Sr., S, York
Shelby Geers, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Joseph-Ogden
Mallory Gibson, 5-10, Sr., MH, Riverdale
Abby Gilleland, 5-10, Jr., S, Marian Central
Carlee Graham, 5-11, Sr., MB, Carlinville
Katie Graham, 5-11, Sr., MH, Carlinville
Brianna Grant, 5-11, Jr., MH, Antioch
Mary Grassano, 5-5, Jr., L, St. Ignatius
Jessica Greer, 5-6, Jr., MH, First Baptist
Meghan Haggerty, 6-2, Jr., MH, Benet
Holly Hammer, 5-9, Sr., OH, Tri-Valley
Abby Hanger, 5-6, Sr., S, Belleville West
Marquisha Harris, 5-11, Sr., OH, Moline
Katelyn Hasken, 5-8, Sr., OH, Lanark Eastland
Arianna Hayden, 5-9, Jr., OH, DeLaSalle
Dymin Hayes, 5-6, Sr., S, Benton
Abbie Heise, 6-2, Jr., S/MB, Springfield Lutheran
Kristina Henley, 5-10, Jr., OH, Massac County
Maddie Hogan, 5-5, Sr., L, Freeburg
Ashley Holder, 5-7, Jr., S, Marist
Darylan Hopper, 5-8, Jr., OH, Minooka
Callie Huebener, 5-11, Jr., OH, Neuqua Valley
Taylor Humm, 5-10, Sr., OH, Prairie Ridge
Chelsi Hummert, 5-11, Sr., MB, Freeburg
Sarah Hunt, 6-3, Sr., MH, Prospect
Emma Hussey, 6-0, Jr., OH, Marian Central
Jordan Huston, 5-10, Sr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Emily Iverson, 5-8 Sr., S, York
Jenna Jacobson, 5-9, Jr., S. Whitney Young
Jenna Jendryk, 6-0, Jr., S, Benet
Erica Johnson, 5-9, Sr., OH, Trenton Wesclin
Jill Johnson, 5-10, Sr., S, Sycamore
Joy Johnson, 5-11, Jr., OH, Barrington
Kara Johnson, 5-9, So., OH, Champaign Centennial
Brielle Jones, Sr., MH, Deland-Weldon
Tyler Jones, 5-11, Sr., OH, Jones College Prep
Erin Juley, 5-11, Sr., S, Lyons
Kim Juriga, 6-0, Jr., OH, St. Charles North
Madison Kamp, 6-2, Sr., S, Chicago Christian
Stacey Kamp, 5-11, Jr., OH, Chicago Christian
Taylor Kasal, 5-11, Jr., OH, Downers Grove North
Courtney Keefe, 5-11, Sr., OH, Lemont
Taylor Kelsey, 5-6, Sr., OH, Edwards County
Hillary Keltner, 5-11, Sr., Belleville Althoff
Esther Kemper, 5-7, Sr., L, Champaign Central
Rachel Kent, 5-10, So., OH, Hinsdale South
Kara Kentner, 5-9, Jr., OH, Sandburg
Kaitlyn King, 5-9, Sr., S, Benet
Amanda Kijewski, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Shealyn Kolosky, 6-2, Sr., MH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Kasi Korza, 6-1, Sr., OH, Springfield
Audrey Krajec, 6-0, Sr., MB, Edwards County
Katie Krasowski, 6-1, Sr., MH, Marist
Danielle Kuhn, 5-11, Sr., OH, Naperville Central
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0, Sr., OH, Cary-Grove
Madison Lang, 6-1, Sr., S, Barrington
Tori Lanzillotti, 5-10, Jr., OH, Lake Forest
Morgan Leach, 5-11, Sr., MB, Champaign Centennial
Emily Leazer, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Viator
Alyssa Lelm, 5-10, So., MB, Deer Creek-Mackinaw
Hope Linker, 5-8, Sr., S, Lanark Eastland
Gina Long, 5-8, Sr., OH, Alexis (United)
Gina Madonia, 5-6, Sr., DS, St. Francis
Abbie Magrini, 5-6, Jr., L, Mahomet-Seymour
Jessi Mainczyk, 5-8, Sr., OH, Queen of Peace
Nevena Markovic, 6-4, Sr., MH, Glenbard South
Laura Marley, 5-7, Sr., S, Athens
Morgan Martels, 6-1, Sr., MH, Sterling
Kendall Martin, 5-10, Sr., OH, Elgin
Victoria May, 5-8, Sr., S, Riverdale
Evyn McCoy, 6-1, Sr., MH, Sycamore
Molly McCoy, 6-0, Sr., OH, Wheaton Academy
Katie McDonald, 6-1, Sr., MH, Providence
Maddie McElroy, 5-11, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Becca Millage, 5-9, Sr., OH, St. Thomas More
Megan Miller, 5-4, Sr. DS, York
Katarina Milojevic, 6-0, Sr., MH, Hinsdale Central
Nora Mitros, 6-1, Jr., OH, Providence
Logan Moore, 5-4, Sr., S, Mahomet-Seymour
Missy Muckensturm, 5-11, Sr., OH, Belleville Althoff
Alison Mueller, 5-11, Sr., OH, Breese Mater Dei
Kelsey Mueller, 5-11, So., MB, Freeburg
Maisey Mulvey, 5-7, Jr., L, St. Charles East
Molly Murphy, 5-4, Sr., DS, Marist
Jamie Netisingha, 5-4, Sr., L, Hinsdale Central
Valerie Nichol, 6-1, Sr., OH, Normal U-High1
Samantha Nichols, 5-11, Sr., MH, Mt. Pulaski
Me'Ashah Nicholson, 6-0, Sr., MB, Belleville Althoff
Caroline Niedospial, 5-8, Sr., L, Marist
Mary Nilles, 5-11, Jr., OH, Batavia
Meghan Niski, 5-10, Jr., OH, St. Charles East
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-6, Sr., L, Johnsburg
Lara Ontko, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Amanda Orchard, 6-0, Jr., OH, Lake Zurich
Dena Ott, 5-6, Sr., L, Marian Central
Kaitlyn O'Reilly, 5-10, Jr., S. Burlington Central
Emily Paschke, 6-2, Sr., MH, West Chicago
Alex Pelmore, 5-8, Sr., OH, Champaign Central
Taylor Pippen, 5-11, Jr., MH, Carmel
Maggie Popp, 5-2, Sr., L, DeLaSalle
Sydney Potts, 5-8, Sr., OH, Benton
Bridget Powell, 5-6, Jr., L, Mother McAuley
Kayla Price, 5-9, Sr., S, Fremd
Catherine Richards, 5-10, So., MH, Payson Seymour
Roxanne Rivera, 5-6, Sr., S, Payton
Kelsey Robertson, 6-1, Sr., MH, Freeburg
Jaclyn Rodriguez, 5-6, Sr., DS, Wheaton Warrenville South
Ashley Rosch, 6-0, Jr., MB, Cary-Grove
Caroline Rose, 5-8, Jr., OH, York
Katie Roustio, 6-1, So., OH, O'Fallon
Caleigh Ryan, 5-9, So., OH, Glenbard West
Katie Ryan, 5-8, Sr., OH, Girard
Megan Scharnett, 5-7, Sr., OH, Champaign Centennial
Carly Schmitt, 6-0, Sr., MH, Johnsburg
Madeline Schoen, 5-11, Sr., OH, Belleville Althoff
Brooke Schulte, 5-9, Jr., OH, Breese Mater Dei
Michelle Schultz, 5-9, Jr., OH, Payton
Kailey Scott, 5-8, Sr., S, Mother McAuley
Kaley Sierawski, 6-0, Sr., OH, Palatine
Morgan Semmelhack, 6-0, Jr., MH, York
Kelli Shaffer, 5-11, Sr., S. Heyworth
Heidi Sierks, 5-9, Jr., S, Lake Forest
Rachel Simmons, 5-5, Sr., OH, Harrisburg
Natalia Skiba, 5-9, Sr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Andrea Skipor, 6-3, So., MH, West Chicago
Colleen Smith, 6-0, Sr., S, Cary-Grove
Erin Smith, 5-3, Sr., S, Payson Seymour
Mercedes Sparks, 5-9, Sr., MH, Toledo Cumberland
Madison Sparling, 5-8, Sr., S, Toledo Cumberland
Dakota Springer, 5-8, Sr., OH, Heyworth
Catherine Steffen, 6-0, Sr., OH, Libertyville
Madison Stephens, 5-6, Jr., S, Massac County
Martha Stewart, 5-11, Sr., OH, Waubonsie Valley
Jill Stoltzenburg, 6-0, Jr., MB, St. Charles North
Brittany Stribling, 5-6, Sr., S, A-C Central
Nicole Strieker, 5-9, Sr., S, Breese Mater Dei
Mary Kate Styler, 5-11, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Danielle Susz, 6-0, Sr., MH, Lemont
Samanatha Szarmach, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Charles East
Donata Taskunaite, 6-0, Sr., MH, Stagg 42
Carly Thomas, 6-1, Sr., S, Belleville Althoff
Courtney Thomas, 6-1, Sr., OH, DeKalb
Danielle Thompson, 5-11, Sr., S, Blue Ridge
Julia Thompson, 5-10, So., OH, Barrington
Megan Tompkins, 5-7, Sr., L, Neuqua Valley
Jane Trazka, 5-9, So., OH, Glenbard South
Taryn Trubich, 5-9, Jr., OH, Plainfield Central
Jessie Tulacka, 6-1, Jr., OH, Downers Grove North
Cara Tyrrell, 5-7, So., DS, Westminster Christian
Alexis Viliunas, 6-1, Jr., OH/S, Lyons
Meg Vonderhaar, 6-1, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Kelly Wachtel, 6-0, Jr., MH, Champaign Centennial
Nichole Wagenbach, 6-0, Sr., OH, Tremont
Kacey Wahlig, 5-5, Sr., S, Freeburg
Carly Warner, 5-8, Jr., S, Naperville North
Tara Weber, 5-8, Sr., OH, Crystal Lake Central
Amelia Wegman, 6-0, Jr., MH, Rosary
Kylie Welch, 5-5, Sr., S, Raymond-Lincolnwood
Lauren Wethers, 5-8, Sr., OH, Collinsville
Erika White, 6-1, Sr., S, Jacksonville Routt
Laura Williams, 5-10, Jr., OH, Lyons
Abbey Winter, 6-0, Jr., MH, Breese Mater Dei
Daiva Wise, 6-0, Jr., MH, St. Francis
Jordan Wooden, Jr., Decatur St. Teresa
Vicki Wrobel, 5-7, Sr., S, Lemont
Lainey Wyman, 6-1, Sr., MH, Joliet Catholic.
Emily Young, 6-1, Sr., OH, Schaumburg
Kaitlyn Zelhart, Jr., 5-11, MH, Blue Ridge
Lauren Zielinski, 6-4, Jr., MH, Marist


Gabby opts for 'Nova and the rest of the best

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Gabby Pethokoukis (pictured right), a 6-foot-3 middle blocker from Western Springs who plays at Benet and 1st Alliance Volleyball Club, has verbally committed to play Division I volleyball for Villanova University. She is the fourth junior from Benet to commit to play Division I volleyball.

"Gabby is one of the most improved players in the country," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "She is an extremely long player who has always been a force blocking, and is developing into a dominant offensive player. Gabby's upside is tremendous and her best volleyball is still ahead of her."

Pethokoukis said that Benet and Villanova share many of the same characteristics.

"Villanova is a great academic school with tremendous school spirit, a strong family feel to it, and a shared Catholic identity," she said. "I've been blessed with wonderful coaches (Melissa Cox and Sue Keck at 1st Alliance and Baker at Benet) who have really helped me improve and make this possible.

"I look to continue my development at Villanova playing for head coach Josh Steinbach, one of the outstanding coaches in D-1 volleyball today," Pethokoukis said. "I look forward to being a Wildcat and part of Nova Nation!"

***

Here are the rest of some of the top volleyball players in the Chicago area (in alphabetical order):

Lara Ontko, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Amanda Orchard, 6-0, Jr., OH, Lake Zurich
Dena Ott, 5-6, Sr., L, Marian Central
Kaitlyn O'Reilly, 5-10, Jr., S. Burlington Central
Emily Paschke, 6-2, Sr., MH, West Chicago
Taylor Pippen, 5-11, Jr., MH, Carmel
Bridget Powell, 5-6, Jr., L, Mother McAuley
Kayla Price, 5-9, Sr., S, Fremd
Roxanne Rivera, 5-6, Sr., S, Payton
Jaclyn Rodriguez, 5-6, Sr., DS, Wheaton Warrenville South
Ashley Rosch, 6-0, Jr., MB, Cary-Grove
Caroline Rose, 5-8, Jr., OH, York
Caleigh Ryan, 5-9, So., OH, Glenbard West
Carly Schmitt, 6-0, Sr., MH, Johnsburg
Michelle Schultz, 5-9, Jr., OH, Payton
Kailey Scott, 5-8, Sr., S, Mother McAuley
Kaley Sierawski, 6-0, Sr., OH, Palatine
Morgan Semmelhack, 6-0, Jr., MH, York
Heidi Sierks, 5-9, Jr., S, Lake Forest
Natalia Skiba, 5-9, Sr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Andrea Skipor, 6-3, So., MH, West Chicago
Colleen Smith, 6-0, Sr., S, Cary-Grove
Catherine Steffen, 6-0, Sr., OH, Libertyville
Martha Stewart, 5-11, Sr., OH, Waubonsie Valley
Jill Stoltzenburg, 6-0, Jr., MB, St. Charles North
Mary Kate Styler, 5-11, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Danielle Susz, 6-0, Sr., MH, Lemont
Samanatha Szarmach, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Charles East
Donata Taskunaite, 6-0, Sr., MH, Stagg
Courtney Thomas, 6-1, Sr., OH, DeKalb
Julia Thompson, 5-10, So., OH, Barrington
Megan Tompkins, 5-7, Sr., L, Neuqua Valley
Jane Trazka, 5-9, So., OH, Glenbard South
Taryn Trubich, 5-9, Jr., OH, Plainfield Central
Jessie Tulacka, 6-1, Jr., OH, Downers Grove North
Cara Tyrrell, 5-7, So., DS, Westminster Christian
Alexis Viliunas, 6-1, Jr., OH/S, Lyons
Meg Vonderhaar, 6-1, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Carly Warner, 5-8, Jr., S, Naperville North
Amelia Wegman, 6-0, Jr., MH, Rosary
Ashley Wilk, 5-11, Jr., OH, Aurora Central Catholic
Laura Williams, 5-10, Jr., OH, Lyons
Daiva Wise, 6-0, Jr., MH, St. Francis
Vicki Wrobel, 5-7, Sr., S, Lemont
Lainey Wyman, 6-1, Sr., MH, Joliet Catholic.
Emily Young, 6-1, Sr., OH, Schaumburg
Lauren Zielinski, 6-4, Jr., MH, Marist

***

Next week, a look at the 2010 volleyball season throughout Illinois.


Warren, Farm and 46 more players to watch

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Former Joliet Catholic standout and Sun-Times all-area selection Alyssa Warren (pictured right) was named the "Best Passer" of the Women's International Junior Division at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships July 26-30 at the Chula Vista Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.

Warren was named to the Women's Junior A2 team after tryouts held in Indianapolis in April, one of 41 such tryouts held throughout the country. Warren's A2 team competed in an international style tournament at the Dells that featured 87 teams from the United States, Chile, Puerto Rico and Peru.

In the finals of the 18-team Women's International Junior Division, Warren's A2 team lost to the 2010 USA Girls Youth National Team, 25-20, 25-19, 25-27, 20-25, 15-9. Her performance should earn Warren an invitation to the National Team tryouts in Colorado Springs next spring.

***

Benet senior Alyson Farm has verbally committed to play Division I volleyball for George Mason University in Virginia next fall. Farm is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter who plays club volleyball for Sports Performance.

"Alyson is an extremely competitive player who will bring a strong work ethic to the George Mason program," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "She has improved tremendously as a player, and through her hard work, has become a six rotation outside hitter."

Farm is a member of the National Honor Society and scored a 32 on her ACT. She led Benet in hitting percentage last year and played on the Sports Performance 17-1 team that was ranked No. 16 in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com.

***

And now, here are the next 46 candidates for the Sun-Times' list of the top 50 area players:

Darylan Hopper, 5-8, Jr., OH, Minooka
Taylor Humm, 5-10, Sr., OH, Prairie Ridge
Sarah Hunt, 6-3, Sr., MH, Prospect
Emma Hussey, 6-0, Jr., OH, Marian Central
Jordan Huston, 5-10, Sr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Emily Iverson, 5-8 Sr., S, York
Jenna Jendryk, 6-0, Jr., S, Benet
Jill Johnson, 5-10, Sr., S, Sycamore
Joy Johnson, 5-11, Jr., OH, Barrington
Tyler Jones, 5-11, Sr., OH, Jones College Prep
Erin Juley, 5-11, Sr., S, Lyons
Kim Juriga, 6-1, Jr., OH, St. Charles North
Madison Kamp, 6-2, Sr., S, Chicago Christian
Stacey Kamp, 5-11, Jr., OH, Chicago Christian
Taylor Kasal, 5-11, Jr., OH, Downers Grove North
Courtney Keefe, 5-11, Sr., OH, Lemont
Rachel Kent, 5-10, So., OH, Hinsdale South
Kaitlyn King, 5-9, Sr., S, Benet
Amanda Kijewski, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Shealyn Kolosky, 6-2, Sr., MH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Katie Krasowski, 6-1, Sr., MH, Marist
Danielle Kuhn, 5-11, Sr., OH, Naperville Central
Nicole Lambert, 6-1, Jr., MH, St. Charles East
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0, Sr., OH, Cary-Grove
Madison Lang, 6-1, Sr., S, Barrington
Emily Leazer, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Viator
Lauren Lee, 5-8, Sr., DS, Payton
Tori Lanzillotti, 5-10, Jr., OH, Lake Forest
Gina Madonia, 5-6, Sr., DS, St. Francis
Jessi Mainczyk, 5-8, Sr., OH, Queen of Peace
Nevena Markovic, 6-4, Sr., MH, Glenbard South
Kendall Martin, 5-10, Sr., OH, Elgin
Evyn McCoy, 6-1, Sr., MH, Sycamore
Molly McCoy, 6-0, Sr., OH, Wheaton Academy
Katie McDonald, 6-1, Sr., MH, Providence
Maddie McElroy, 5-10, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Megan Miller, 5-4, Sr. DS, York
Katarina Milojevic, 6-0, Sr., MH, Hinsdale Central
Nora Mitros, 6-1, Jr., OH, Providence
Maisey Mulvey, 5-7, Jr., L, St. Charles East
Molly Murphy, 5-4, Sr., DS, Marist
Jamie Netisingha, 5-4, Sr., L, Hinsdale Central
Caroline Niedospial, 5-8, Sr., L, Marist
Mary Nilles, 5-11, Jr., OH, Batavia
Meghan Niski, 5-10, Jr., OH, St. Charles East
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-6, Sr., L, Johnsburg

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