Prepvolleyball.com has released its first in-season high school rankings, and Cary-Grove, which was ranked No. 25 in the preseason, has climbed to No. 2 in the country.
Here are the Prepvolleyball.com rankings of Illinois teams and new national No. 1 St. James of suburban Kansas City, Kansas.
2010 Century Club National High School Rankings
1. St. James (Lenexa, Kansas)
Current record: 9-0; Pre-season ranking: 15
The Thunder have been bringing the noise during the season's first month. First, they got 18 kills from Morgan Voorhes in an easy sweep of 6A champion Washburn Rural Sept. 9. Then they won the Mo-Kan Challenge on Sept. 11, downing Kansas 5A champion Bishop Miege in the semis and Missouri power Lee's Summit West in the finals. Senior OH Hanna Forst led the way offensively with 58 kills over six, best of three matches, while defenders Sheridan Zarda and Molly O'Brien combined for 100 digs for the defensive-minded team. St. James was seeded in the top four at last weekend's St. Joseph's Tournament of Champions in St. Louis.
2. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Current record: 14-0; Pre-season ranking: 25
The Trojans swept tough Huntley last Tuesday behind 20 assists from Colleen Smith and eight kills and three aces from Kelly Lamberti. The defending state 4A champs have now won 30 matches in a row. Their last loss came Oct. 3 2009 versus Wisconsin Division 2 champion Catholic Memorial, which was avenged Sept. 4 at the H D Jacobs Tournament.
11. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Current record: 9-0; Pre-season ranking: 22
Senior Ace Jocelynn Birks had 12 kills and Erin Juley contributed 29 assists in a Sept. 14 win over Oak Park - River Forest. The Lions are ranked second in the Chicagoland area. Their biggest win to date was a sweep of once-beaten York on Sept. 3.
12. Mater Dei (Breese, Illinois)
Current record: 17-0; Pre-season ranking: 31
What can we say about Mater Dei other than that the first part of the season has been a Breese? The Knights have faced 17 opponents - many, like Freeburg, Edwardsville, Moline and Borgia, no slouches - and have yet to drop a set. Brooke Schulte, Nicole Strieker, Samantha Bedard and Ashley Rakers have been big players for Mater Dei, which dominated Cor Jesu, 25-14, 25-15, on Sept, 13.
The Next 75 (with random notes inserted)
35. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 6-0; Pre-season ranking: 44
Random note: Carks Niedospial set a school record with 39 digs and Ashley Holder served 10 straight during a key run in Marist's three-set win on Sept. 14 over previously unbeaten Mother McAuley in front of a crowd estimated at 2,000 strong.
48. Edwardsville (Illinois)
Current record: 7-2; Pre-season ranking: Bubble
Random note: On "A Volley for the Cure" night, the Tigers must have been tickled pink to knock off visiting Incarnate Word on Sept. 15. Edwardsville had twice before faced pre-season nationally-ranked teams and had come away empty handed each time. This win, sparked by 17 Sam Epenesa kills and 22 assists from Lexi Gober, coupled with a win over No. 69 Washington (which beat Moline which beat Wheaton St. Francis and Althoff) makes the Tigers the third-highest team debuting in these rankings.
55. York (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Current record: 12-1; Pre-season ranking: Bubble
70. Moline (Illinois)
Current record: 13-2; Pre-season ranking: Bubble
Random note: The Maroons make it into the rankings on the strength on a superb effort at the 24-team Effingham Crossroads Classic Sept. 10-11. Powered by Kirsten King and Sam Fournier, Moline defeated Althoff Catholic in the semifinals and Wheaton St. Francis in the finals. Its only losses to date have come at the hands of No. 12 Breese Mater Dei and No. 69 Washington.
96. St. Francis (Wheaton, Illinois)
Current record: 12-1; Pre-season ranking: 69
Random note: The Spartans got a scare on Sept. 15 against previously-unbeaten Marian Central Catholic. Tied late in the decisive third game, libero Gina Madonia served the last five points, including four aces, to help St. Francis escape. Meg Vonderhaar had 13 kills for St. Francis. Emma Hussey had 12 for Marian CC.
97. Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Illinois)
Current record: 10-1; Pre-season ranking: 70
Teams We Didn't Quite Find Room For This Week:
Mother McAuley (Chicago, Illinois) 4-1
Dropped Out (29):
*Benet Academy (Lisle, Illinois)
Current record: 7-3; Pre-season ranking: 7
Random note: The Redwings have won three in a row after a rocky start and, on their fifth different starting lineup, may have found one that works heading into last weekend's Wheaton Classic. Benet continues to play without 6-3 senior MB Gabby Pethokoukis, a Division I recruit and defensive difference maker at the net. She has a badly sprained ankle that will require two more weeks.
*St. Charles East (St. Charles, Illinois)
Current record: 13-5; Pre-season ranking: 33
*Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Illinois)
Current record: 6-4; Pre-season ranking: 83
The Ilinois High School Association held its "rolling of the peas" Monday to determine the brackets for the state finals in its various fall sports. For the second consecutive year and the third time in four years, the southern Illinois representative in Class 3A (pick one: Belleville Athloff or Breese Mater Dei) will avoid the winner of the St. Francis/Joliet Catholic/etc.sectional in a state semifinal.
If form holds, your semifinal pairings in 3A would feature (Chicago) Payton vs. Mater Dei and St. Francis/Joliet Catholic/Lemont vs. Marian Central. In 4A, a rematch of last year's title game is possible if Lyons can beat York in its semifinal and Cary-Grove can handle Moline or Edwardsville in the other.
There are no helmets in volleyball (but maybe there should be).
Downers Grove North's talented 6-2 junior Jessie Tulacka sat out all but a few minutes of last weekend's Wheaton Classic after she bumped heads with a teammate and suffered a possible mild concussion. She was ordered to rest for a week.
Without their star, Downers North lost to Wheaton North 23-25, 25-20, 25-15 for 14th place.
Downers North was not the only team to suffer a loss last weekend, although Sandburg's will certainly be longer term. Jenny Buczek, the Eagles' senior outside hitter, was diagnosed with mononucleosis.
Payton's 6-2 senior middle hitter Mari Faines probably could have gone a lot of places to play volleyball. So why Colgate?
"Academics are very important to both my parents and me," she said. "Colgate not only has great academics, it has one of the top graduation rates in the country."