By Pat Brozynski

Maybe things aren't so bad in Illinois after all

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Prepvolleyball.com has released the remaining 50 members of its Senior Aces list. Here are the players from Illinois who cracked the top 50 and what Prepvolleyball.com's John Tawa had to say about them:

50. Morgan Leach, 6-2 MB, Centennial (Champaign) -- Indiana

A tall, long athletic middle who jump touches 10-3, Leach is a dynamic player capable of attacking at several points along the net and in the pipe. Leach can hit all the sets, off one leg or two, in front of and behind the setter, and started to hit with power as a junior. She has good footwork at the net, has fine natural instincts for the game, blocks well and is an improving passer. Her personality is one of her very best attributes: Leach brings a lot of a lot of fist pumping energy that drives the team. A great kid and bright student, Leach has committed to Indiana and should have a standout career in Bloomington.

48. Meg Vonderhaar, 6-1 OH, St. Francis (Wheaton) -- Notre Dame

A big, physical outside hitter who has played a lot on the left side, Vonderhaar moved to the right this past club season and helped lead the Sports Performance 18 Elite team to the AAU 18 Open championship. She has the potential to be a shut down blocker versus the slide attack and has made tremendous strides in the back row. Blessed with a tremendous work ethic and labeled a "world class teammate," Vonderhaar hopes to lead St. Francis to a state title in 2010 after a three-year drought. She has committed to Notre Dame.

33. Morganne Criswell, 6-1 OH, Decatur LSA (Decatur) -- Illinois

An exceptional athlete with great movement skills and an electric arm, Criswell has all the skills to be a six-rotation standout at the next level. She attacks well front row and back, plays fierce defense and has developed into an outstanding passer, the skill that may land her early playing time on a stacked Illinois team. Criswell also possesses a natural leadership ability which draws other players to her. Some players want to be leaders and others are chosen by their peers. Criswell has always been chosen and only this past year embraced that natural leadership position. With tons of natural ability, a great work ethic and a Big Ten-level skill set, Criswell will find a way to contribute to Kevin Hambly's Illini team and most likely be a leader there, too.

30. Emily Young, 6-2 S/RS, Schaumburg H.S. (Schaumburg) -- Southern California

Arguably the most athletic setter in the class of 2011, Young stands 6-2, has excellent speed and touches above 10-0. Left-handed, she was recruited to Southern California both as a setter and a front row force on the right side, where she can block and attack at a high level. Also an excellent passer, Young has suffered through injuries for the better part of the past two years. Prior to the injury bug hitting, many compared her potential to another tall left-handed setter-hitter from Illinois named Kelly Murphy, who was Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2007. Young is primed for a breakout year in 2010-2011. When that happens, people will stop talking about her potential and start talking about her accomplishments.

26. Jocelynn Birks, 6-2 OH, Lyons Township (LaGrange) -- Illinois

Long limbed and athletic, Birks dominate the net with her attacking and blocking prowess. Blessed with a great arm - "One of the purest attacking arms I have ever coached," says 1st Alliance's Beth Keck - Birks can score at will and will be an immediate point producer at Illinois, where she has committed. She has great reach and range defensively, reads well and has developed into a strong six-rotation player. She led her high school team to the state final as a junior and her club team to a top five finish at Junior Nationals. The Illini have a great class in 2011 and Birks is one of its cornerstones.

20. Val Nichol, 6-0 S/OH, University (Normal) -- Purdue

Nichol might be the best athlete to come out of the Bloomington/Normal area since another U-High product, collegiate superstar Ogonna Nnamani, graduated and went to Stanford many years ago. Nichol is not only a high flying outside hitter (as Nnamani was), but has also developed into a very strong setter in the last year. An effortless jumper who rises to 10-4 and above, Nichol is a graceful athlete with the ability to do just about anything on a volleyball court. As a freshman/sophomore, Nichol was almost entirely an outside hitter because her teams could not afford not to have her hitting and passing all the time. As a junior, a commitment was made to improve her setting skills and focus on her becoming a setter. She emerged this past season as one of the top setting prospects in the nation. A big time blocker and solid passer, Nichol has committed to Purdue in the Big Ten. She has the ability to change the way the Boilers play the game during her time in West Lafayette.

16. Courtney Thomas, 6-0 S, DeKalb H.S. (DeKalb) -- Wisconsin

When Thomas committed to Wisconsin in 2009, Sports Performance club director Rick Butler stated he thought that she might emerge as the nation's best setter by the time she graduated in 2011. Thomas is tall, silky smooth, very mobile and plays the game effortlessly. She has the ability to take over a match as a setter or a hitter, where she combines physicality with a keen ability to score in any situation. An intimidating force as a blocker, Thomas can strike fear into opposing left-side attackers. Also a very fine passer, Thomas is without question one of the best five tool players in junior volleyball.

6. Ellen Chapman, 6-4 OH, Glenbrook South (Glenview) -- Wisconsin

Chapman is a dominating outside hitter who can swing at anything antenna to antenna. Touching 10-5, the Illinois state high jump champion as a sophomore has become a force on the outside and can be very intimidating at the net. In addition to her attack, Chapman is very proficient with her passing and serving and uses her quickness and mobility to be a fine defender for her height and an imposing blocker. She is part of Pete Waite's fantastic recruiting class at Wisconsin.

Here is the list of seniors from Illinois (and their college choice) ranked 101-250:

Hannah Crippen, 5-11 S, Plainfield North (Northwestern)
Kaitlyn King, 5-9 S, Benet Academy (Maryland)
Kayla Price, 5-9 S, Fremd (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Colleen Smith, 5-11 S, Cary-Grove (Indiana)
Mari Faines, 6-1 MB, Payton (Colgate)
Kaisley Fisher, 6-2 MB, Plainfield North (Purdue)
Lainey Wyman, 6-1 MB, Joliet Catholic (Mississippi State)
Kelly Lamberti, 6-0 OH, Cary-Grove (Ohio)
Jamie Netisingha, 5-4 Libero, Hinsdale Central (Cincinnati)
Caroline Niedospial, 5-6 Libero, Marist (Northwestern)
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-6 Libero, Johnsburg (Ohio)

Here are the players from Illinois who just missed cracking the top 250:

Hillary Keltner, 5-9 S, Belleville Althoff (Air Force)
Madison Lang, 6-2 S/RS, Barrington (Florida Atlantic)
Hannah Burkle, 6-2 MB, Crystal Lake South (unknown)
Sarah Hunt, 6-3 MB, Prospect (unknown)
Dariyan Hopper, 5-8 OH, Minooka (North Carolina State)
Courtney Keefe, 5-10 OH, Lemont (Bradley)

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on September 14, 2010 3:29 PM.

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