By Pat Brozynski

October 2010 Archives

Barrington in the market for a new coach

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Benet (pictured after winning Autumnfest) has won 27 of its last 30 matches heading into Tuesday's sectional semifinal at Romeoville.

Barrington, which at one time produced players like UCLA All-American Nellie Spicer. Penn State's Laura Holloway and current Michigan setter Lexi Zimmerman, will be looking for a new coach next fall.

Chris Bronke, who took over the program five years ago when former head coach Karen Traub left after 10 years to move to Texas, announced last week that he will resign at the end of the season.

Bronke, a former assistant at Prairie Ridge under Stephanie Otto, went 33-10 in his rookie season, guiding Zimmerman and the Fillies to a Mid-Suburban League championship and a fourth-place finish in the Illinois High School Association Class AA tournament.

However, the Fillies are just 63-82 during the past four years, although Barrington rebounded from a 2-9 start this fall to post a 20-17 record after losing in the regional chamionship to Cary-Grove.

"I look forward to spending more time with my wife and pursuing more advanced degrees to further my career," said Bronke, an English teacher at Barrington. "I wish the program nothing but success in the future."

Barrington athletic director Mike Obsuszt said a search for Bronke's successor will begin soon and he expects to have a new coach named well before the 2011 season begins next August.


Joliet Catholic's 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter Lainey Wyman set a new single-season block record with 94 block kills this fall, surpassing the previous mark of 85 set by Claire Randich in 2008.

Wyman has also taken over the top spot on career block kill list from current Illinois middle hitter Nicole Kump, who had 210 between 2004-2006. Wyman is currently at 226.

"Lainey has been an amazing blocking presence in our matches this year, and has literally turned around several matches with her block," Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe said.

Wyman has been named to the East Suburban Catholic All-Conference Team along with junior teammates Kelly Feigh and Lauren Robertson.


An injury to Genna Pavone early in the season forced (Orland Park) Sandburg coach David Vales to scramble a little bit, but Vales found the answer in the combination of 5-foot-9 junior Kara Kentner and 5-11 sophomore Paige Bendell.

"With the absence of Genna, these two have really carried the load for us," Vales said.

The pair have helped lead Sandburg (29-8) to the sectional at Shepard where the Eagles will face Mother McAuley in a semifinal at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

Vales also reached the 100 victory mark in four years with the girls' program after succeeding former coach Kelly Mendoza. He also has another 250 victories in eight years at the head of the boys program at Sandburg.


Lincoln-Way East 5-foot-10 junior rightside Lauren Bherens tied a school record with 22 kills in a victory over Downers Grove South at the Rich East tournament earlier this season. This is Bherens' third season on varsity.


(Chicago) DeLaSalle's 5-foot-8 senior setter Jenna Duddleston was named the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference White Division Player of the Year after leading the Meteors to a third consecutive White Division regular season title and third place in the GCAC Red tournament.

It was the second consecutive season that Duddleston received the honor.

Duddleston had a season-high 30 assists in a 25-21, 25-27, 27-25 victory over GCAC rival Resurrection in September and had 26 assists and six kills in a 25-22, 29-27 victory over Riverside-Brookfield at the Maine East tournament.

The third-place finish in the CGAC Red tournament was the highest finish by DeLaSalle in its eight-year existence as a co-ed school. Arianna Hayden and Maggie Popp were also named all-conference for DeLaSalle (30-7).

DeLaSalle has advanced to the sectional at Lyons where it will face St. Ignatius in a semifinal at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday.


Congratulations to Marist's Caroline Niedospial, who was named the East Suburban Catholic Conference "Player of the Year."


Evanston's 6-foot-4 junior middle blocker/outside hitter Casey Durham recently verbally committed to the University of Pittsburgh. Huntley junior Amy Dion, one of the state's top liberos, recently committed to Maryland.

This is why I am not in the prediction business. Two of my 16 favorites to reach the final four in the IHSA four-class state tournament failed to make it out of the regional -- (Port Byron) Riverdale in Class 2A and Moline in Class 4A,

Moline, which was 34-2 and nationally ranked, dropped a three-setter in the regional final to the hosts at Quincy.

I thought it was only tough to play at Quincy in boys basketball.


Once again, here are the national rankings from John Tawa:

1. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Current record: 35-0; Last week's ranking: 1

The Trojans begin defense of their 2009 4A state title with regional play beginning today. Since dropping a set to Wisconsin Division II champion Catholic Memorial on Sept. 4, Cary-Grove has recorded 27 straight sweeps, including wins over Louisville Assumption, Marist, Mother McAuley, a healthy St. Charles East (get well Erienne Barry) and Huntley twice. It's no wonder that C-G has risen to the top of the national rankings! There is yet more work to be done for the Women of Troy, however. Three playoff matches loom this week, including a possible Tuesday sectional semifinal with Huntley.

15. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 33-2; Last week's ranking: 15

Marist won the Trojan Invite on Saturday, taking a three-set win in the final over Hinsdale Central. Ashley Holder had 26 assists and sophomore middle Rachel Dalton had six kills and two blocks for the RedHawks in the final. Ally Davis had 15 kills to lead Hinsdale Central. Marist is playing so well that Southtown Star volley guru Tony Baranek predicted that the team would win the state 4A title, dethroning national No. 1 Cary-Grove in the process. "I've watched this team several times this season, and they ALWAYS seem to have the steadiest heads when it gets past 20," he said. "I'm calling the upset with a fair amount of confidence."

16. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Current record: 34-1; Last week's ranking: 16

Lyons concluded its regular season Saturday with wins over New Trier and Normal Community at the Lyons Invite. Senior OH Jocelynn Birks concluded the regular season with 382 kills to go along with a shiny 49 percent kill percentage.

The Next 75 (with random notes inserted)

31. Mater Dei (Breese, Illinois)
Current record: 35-1; Last week's ranking: 30

Random note: The Knights won the Quincy Notre Dame Tournament over the weekend and have won 15 straight since a Sept. 28 loss to nationally-ranked St. Joseph's ended their aspirations of an undefeated season.

40. Benet (Lisle, Illinois)
Current record: 29-6; Last week's ranking: 44

43. Moline (Illinois)
Current record: 33-2; Last week's ranking: 46

63. Mother McAuley (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 28-7; Last week's ranking: 64

86. Joliet Catholic (Joliet, Illinois)
Current record: 28-7; Last week's ranking: 87

99. York (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Current record: 31-4; Last week's ranking: 42

Teams on the bubble (listed state-by-state, alphabetically)

Illinois: Althoff, Crystal Lake Central, Edwardsville, Hersey, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Huntley, Lanark Eastland, Libertyville, Lincoln, Marian Central, Quincy, Sandburg, St. Francis

West Chicago's losses a matter of confidence?

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What has happened to West Chicago?

After starting out the season 26-0 and cruising to the DuPage Valley Conference title, the Wildcats have suddenly gone south. Their 2-3 finish Saturday at the Downers Grove North invite last weekend made it seven losses in their last nine games.

"I think the two losses at Autumnfest and the losses to the Napervilles have shaken our confidence," West Chicago coach Kris Hasty said.

West Chicago lost a championship semifinal at Autumnfest to Mother McAuley 25-18, 24-26, 25-14 and the third-place match to Joliet Catholic 25-20, 25-16. Then came back-to-back, three-set losses to Naperville North and Naperville Central in which the Wildcats won the first game.

Saturday at Downers North was more of the same. After whipping Wheaton North 25-7 in the first game of their tournament opener, the Wildcats had to fight back to win 15-9 in the third. Against Hinsdale Central, they fell behind 8-0 in the first game and never threatened.

"Mentally, we need to be more confident," Hasty said. "We need to pull together when things don't go our way. We need to start out stronger. You can't dig yourself a hole like that against a team like Hinsdale Central."

In the semifinals, West Chicago did come out firing against No. 2-ranked Marist, playing point-for-point and taking leads of 24-22 and 25-24 in Game 1. But the Wildcats could not close out the deal and fell 27-25, 25-18.

The Wildcats looked to have righted the ship in the third-place match against Downers Grove North. But after winning Game 1 25-16, they dropped the next two 25-23 and 25-19.

"We know we are a good team," Hasty said. "We know we can play good volleyball. We just have to be more confident coming in and be more mentally tough."

West Chicago (29-7) is the top seed at the Conant regional and should face St. Charles North in the regional championship Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Marist libero Caroline Niedospial admits she has not see much Northwestern volleyball this fall, including the Wildcats' match with Ohio State on Friday.

"I went to the (Marist) football game, some of it," said the Northwestern recruit. "I do follow Northwestern volleyball closely. They are doing very well. I am sure I will look at my schedule and see when I can watch them play."

Northwestern lost to Ohio State in five games Friday, but Niedospial's Marist team fared a little better over the weekend, defeating Hinsdale Central in three games to win the Downers Grove North invite..


Schaumburg volleyball coach Jeannette Pancratz had never lost a Mid-Suburban League title game, until Wednesday's 12-25, 25-17, 25-21 loss at Hersey. Her teams had won three straight titles between 1991-1993 and won again in 2007.

Pancratz, who began her coaching career at Resurrection in 1980, joined some exclusive company this fall when she reached the 700-win milestone against Wheaton Warrenville South at the Glenbard East tournament


Hersey coach Nancy Lill won her eighth Mid-Suburban League title in 23 years when the Huskies defeated Schaumburg on Wednesday. It was the Huskies eighth consecutive appearance in the championship match and 15th under Lill.

Lill is the winningest coach in MSL history with 742 wins.


Schaumburg's Emily Young (West) and Prospect's Sarah Hunt (East) were named their respective Mid-Suburban League division's "Player of the Year" and were honored Wednesday prior to the MSL title match between Schaumburg and Hersey.

Also named to the MSL all-conference team were: Amanda Dee, Madison Lang and Julia Thompson of Barrington; Victoria Ito of Buffalo Grove; Chelsea Vanicek of Conant; Jessica Condon of Elk Grove; and Alex Messner and Kayla Price of Fremd.

Also, Kelsey Hass, Abby Fesl, Jenni Mueller, Danielle Perkins and Kristen Pedersen of Hersey; Jada Stotts of Hoffman Estates; Kaley Sierawski of Palatine; Danielle Siwik of Prospect; and Bria Hailey, Rebecca Thompson and Sara Travis of Schaumburg.

Also named to the all-conference team were Stephanie Fuchs, Kayla Jordan and Kellie Kuzmanic of Wheeling.


Finally, here are this week's national rankings from's John Tawa:

1. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Current record: 34-0; Last week's ranking: 1

One week after ascending to the top of these rankings, the Trojans remain at the pinnacle, thanks to two easy wins. Thursday's sweep of McHenry was accomplished in front of the largest home crowd coach Patty Langanis has seen in her 15-plus years at the school. Tuesday's win over Crystal Lake South clinched Cary-Grove's second straight FVC Valley title. Ashley Rosch had five kills in the victory. The senior duo of Colleen Smith and Kelly Lamberti continue to carry C-G, which concludes its regular season today at Dundee-Crown. They have been part of 127 wins in their four years, including the past 50 in a row. The Trojans open Regional play one week from Thursday.

15. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 28-2; Last week's ranking: 18

Ashley Holder had 23 assists and Lauren Zielinski contributed nine kills and three blocks in a win over Fenwick last Thursday, but that was only a prelude to Tuesday's match versus Joliet Catholic for the ESCC title. In that one, Zielinski and Katie Krasowski had seven kills apiece and freshman Carolyn Yerkes served successive aces late in Game 2 to power Marist's sweep. The conference title was Marist's first since 2006.

16. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Current record: 32-1; Last week's ranking: 19

Lyons won the Maine West Pumpkin Tournament last weekend. The Lions dropped Game 1 of the final to Sandburg, but dominated the next two. Lyons then faced two tough tests to close the regular season. On Tuesday, the Lions got by resurgent Hinsdale Central, 25-21, 25-23, behind 11 kills from Jocelynn Birks, eight from Laura Williams and 14 assists and five kills from Alexis Viliunas. Lyons got another big win on Wednesday, sweeping Mother McAuley on the road behind the strong play of middles Kelsey Keeve and Julia Watkins.

The Next 75 (with random notes inserted)

30. Mater Dei (Breese, Illinois)
Current record: 29-1; Last week's ranking: 31

Random note: Mater Dei lost just its third set of the season Monday, but rallied to defeat Edwardsville in three on the road. Brooke Schulte keyed the win with strong swings and serves late in the third set and Kayla Eversgerd did a solid job setting for the first time all season. Sam Epenesa matched Schulte with 12 kills for Edwardsville. Mater Dei and Edwardsville both are entered in the 32-team Quincy Notre Dame tournament this weekend.

42. York (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Current record: 27-3; Last week's ranking: 83

44. Benet (Lisle, Illinois)
Current record: 27-6; Last week's ranking: 86

Random note: Note to Illinois: the Redwings are getting hot! Benet defeated St. Charles East, Joliet Catholic and Mother McAuley Saturday to win the Autumnfest. Lara Ontko was named MVP, but the Redwings also got big contributions from Jenna Jendryk, Meghan Haggerty and Allyson Farm.

46. Moline (Illinois)
Current record: 31-2; Last week's ranking: 53

Random note: Sam Fournier and Marquisha Harris keyed Moline's run to the title Saturday at the Bradley-Boubonnais Tournament. The Maroons defeated both Illinois 1A champion Lanark Eastland and 28-4 Washington (IL) in the championship pool.

64. Mother McAuley (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 25-7; Last week's ranking: 33

87. Joliet Catholic (Joliet, Illinois)
Current record: 28-7; Last week's ranking: 87

Dropped out:
Huntley (Illinois)
Current record: 29-4; Last week's ranking: 98

Teams on the bubble
Illinois: Althoff, Crystal Lake Central, Edwardsville, Hersey, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Huntley, Lanark Eastland, Libertyville, Lincoln, Marian Central, Quincy, Sandburg, St. Charles East, St. Francis, West Chicago

Cary-Grove climbs to No. 1 in the nation

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After defeating McHenry on Thursday, Cary-Grove now owns the second-longest winning streak in state history. The win was the Trojans' 49th in a row, eclipsing the mark set by Breese Mater Dei in 1993-94.

Of course, Cary-Grove has some work to do to equal Illinois' all-time winning streak. Mother McAuley won 135 straight matches from November 18, 1979 to September 16, 1983. If there is such a thing as an untouchable record in sports, that might be it.

Also in the all-time list are: Breese Mater Dei (46); Mt. Pulaski (43), Crystal Lake Central (42), Naperville Central (39), Lake Forest (39), McAuley (38), and Glenbrook South (36).

Cary-Grove also became the new No. 1 in the nation according to's John Tawa (see the last item).


What a week for the maddening group from Benet (pictured above during its win at Joliet Catholic).

The pre-season No. 1, which has been in and out of the rankings all season with its inconsistent play, defeated Joliet Catholic and Mother McAuley to win the Autumnfest tournament at Glenbard East on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, Benet avenaged a loss to Joliet Cathoic in the finals of the Mizuno Cup by winning an East Suburban Catholic Conference match in Joliet.

Benet's Lara Ontko was named MVP at Autumnfest and was joined on the all-tournament team by setter Kaitlyn King.

Also named to the all-tournament team was Barrington's Amanda Dee, Normal's Ellie Bliss, Emily Paschke of West Chicago, Becca Brabec of Lemont, Providence's Nora Mitros, St. Charles East's Meghan Niski and Taylor Humm from Prairie Ridge.

Also, Emily Young of Schaumburg, Lauren Carlini of West Aurora, Waubonsie Valley's Martha Stewart, Ashley Smith of Huntley, and Kailey Scott and MaryKate Styler of McAuley.


Congratulations to Natalia Skiba of Hinsdale Central, who committed to play at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. last week. The 5-foot-9 Skiba, who plays all around for the Red Devils, was recruited as a libero.


Schaumburg's Jeannate Pancratz joined elite company when she earned her 700th career victory Friday at Autumnfest when the Saxons defeated Wheaton Warrenville South.

Pancratz is the mother of former Schaumburg and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee basketball star Mark Pancratz, who led the Saxons to the 2001 IHSA Class AA state title by upsetting Thornwood and Eddy Curry.

After finishing 12th at Autumnfest, Pancratz's Schaumburg volleyball team (21-9) will face Hersey (25-4) for the Mid-Suburban League title Thursday in Arlingtonm Heights.


Has Hades frozen over?

Marian Central ended a two-decades long losing streak against St. Francis by defeating the Spartans 23-25, 25-21, 31-29 Wednesday in Woodstock. St. Francis failed to capitalize on four match points.

The outcome should not have been too surprising, however. Marian Central went three games with St. Francis earlier this season in Wheaton.


And then there was one.

Cary-Grove became the last unbeaten big-school team in Illinois when West Chicago lost to Mother McAuley 25-18, 24-25, 25-14 in the semifinals of the Autumnfest tournament Saturday at Glenbard East.

West Chicago also lost to Joliet Catholic 25-20, 25-16 for third place.

However, those matches and this weekend's appearance at Downers Grove North tournament should do nothing but make West Chicago better prepared for the state tournament, where the Wildcats are likely to face St. Charles East and York in the Bartlett sectional.


After knocking at the door two of the last three years -- finishing fourth in 2007 and second in 2009 -- is this the year that Chicago Christian finally breaks through in Class 2A?

Don't let the Knights' 22-10 record fool you. Chicago Christian plays a tougher schedule than most 2A teams in the state, save two-time defending state champion Freeburg, which plays an extremely difficult downstate tournament schedule.

The Knights went 5-1 last week, defeating Oak Lawn, Plainfield Central, Lincoln-Way North and Lincoln-Way East at the Lincoln-Way Central invitational before losing to the hosts 25-23, 23-25, 25-21 in the champinship match.

Juniors Celaine Haan and Becky DeRuiter were named to the all-tournament team. Meanwhile, setter Madison Kamp had 150 assists, 13 kills, 10 blocks and seven aces in six matches while DeRuiter added 50 kills and 29 blocks.


West Chicago, which has suddenly lost three in a row after opening the season with 26 consecutive wins, is seeded second at this weekend's Downers Grove North invite. Marist is seeded first, Hinsdale Central is third and the hosts are fourth.

Suburban fans who don't get into the city much can get a glimpse at Payton, which is seeded fifth in the tournament and will face Marist on the main court at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Payton failed to defend its city title last Saturday, losing to Young in three games. But the Grizzlies are still one of the favorites to reach Bloomington for the Class 3A state semifinals on November 12


Finally, as hinted here last week, Cary-Grove is the new No. 1 in the nation, accoridng to's John Tawa. Here are Tawa's comments about each Illinois team in his top 100.

2010 Century Club National High School Rankings

1. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Current record: 32-0; Last week's ranking: 2

The Trojans supplant undefeated St. James as our national No. 1 team this week. It's not that I'm unimpressed with St. James. In fact, I flew out to Kansas last Thursday just to watch the Thunder and was blown away by their defensive intensity and their fast offense. It's just that I saw Cary-Grove five days earlier polish off a big time field at the Asics Challenge and was ever so slightly more impressed by what the Trojans bring to the court. Cary-Grove has an offensive threat at every front court position, a gritty, seasoned senior setter in Colleen Smith and a defense, anchored by Sam Mainzer, that is underrated. On Saturday, C-G got 77 assists from Smith and strong RS play from Allison Whimpey to complete a sweep at the Schaumburg Invite. The Trojans won all four regular-season tournaments they entered. The only tournament remaining is the 4A state tournament, where they are defending champions. After Tuesday's win over Jacobs, Cary-Grove has now won 48 matches in a row, a streak that ranks the Trojans third all time in Illinois history.

18. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 26-2; Last week's ranking: 17

The Redhawks imposed their will on Marian Catholic Monday in their only match of the week. Carks Niedospial served seven points and had 14 digs in the easy win. Marist plays Fenwick today before closing the regular season on Tuesday versus Joliet Catholic, which prevailed over a solid field to win the Mizuno Cup last weekend.

19. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Current record: 25-1; Last week's ranking: 18

Playing without senior setter Erin Juley, who was resting her surgically repaired knee, Lyons prevailed in the Glenbrook North Discovery Tournament over the weekend, knocking Libertyville from the unbeaten ranks with a straight set win in the finals. Alex Viliunas, a talented junior setter committed to Illinois, who had returned to the lineup only the Tuesday before after suffering a wrist injury over the summer, led the Lyons with 20 assists. Laura Williams, Kelsey Keeve and Jocelynn Birks all had strong showings for Lyons, which plays in the Maine West Pumpkin Tournament this weekend. Lyons coach Joann Pyritz says she hopes to have two healthy setters available to her for that one.

31. Mater Dei (Breese, Illinois)
Current record: 27-1

Random note: Brooke Schulte and Abbey Winter contributed eight kills each on Tuesday as the Knights swept past Althoff Catholic at home.

33. Mother McAuley (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 21-5

Random note: The scrappy Macs built on an impressive Asics Challenge showing with three more wins this week. OH Marykate Styler, who was slowed by injury at the Challenge, has been coming on strong, adding another weapon to McAuley's multi-pronged attack.

53. Moline (Illinois)
Current record: 26-2

Random note: The Maroons have won 21 matches in a row, including three-set wins this week over Bloomington and Normal Community.

83. York (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Current record: 26-3

Random note: With Katie Gallagher out of the lineup ill on Tuesday, senior Emily Iverson ran a 5-1 offense and engineered York's road sweep of Glenbard West. She had 31 assists, many of which went to Caroline Rose and Melissa Deatsch.

86. Benet (Lisle, Illinois)
Current record: 21-6

Random note: Four days after losing to Joliet Catholic in the finals of the Mizuno Cup, the Redwings exacted revenge on JCA, getting 10 kills from Allyson Farm and eight kills and 11 digs from Lara Ontko in a three-set win. Benet trailed 22-19 in the decisive set, but scored six of the final eight points to pull out the win.

87. Joliet Catholic (Joliet, Illinois)
Current record: 24-5

Random note: Led by tourney MVP Kelly Feigh and big blocking middle Lainey Wyman, the Angels won the Mizuno Cup on Saturday, sweeping top-seeded Benet in the finals. Benet had to overcome nine match points against in the semifinal versus St. Charles East, which lost setter Erienne Barry to a knee injury. In the final, JCA dominated the first then had to come from behind in Game 2 to sweep. The Angels won on a kill from sophomore Morgan Reardon.

98. Huntley (Illinois)
Current record: 23-3

Teams on the bubble

Crystal Lake Central, Edwardsville, Hersey, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Libertyville, Lincoln, Marian Central, Quincy, Sandburg, St. Charles East, St. Francis, West Chicago.

Crystal Lake Central's Anderson commits to Indiana

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The news just keeps getting better at Indiana.

First, Indiana coach Sherry Dunbar landed a commitment from one of the top juniors in the country, Crystal Lake Central's 6-foot-1 outside hitter/middle blocker Amelia Anderson. Then the Indiana women's volleyball team celebrated Saturday by defeating Penn State for the first time in series history, snapping a string of 40 straight losses to the Nittany Lions.

"The Big Ten is insane," said Anderson, who played for AAU national champion Sky High 16 Black during the club season. "I really wanted to play Big Ten volleyball."

Anderson had offers from Michigan, Northwestern and others, but was sold on Indiana after visiting the school.

"Sherry Dunbar is an amazing coach," Anderson said. "She has turned that program around and I wanted to play for her. I love the school, the town is amazing and the girls are awesome. I love everything about it."

Anderson will join Cary-Grove senior setter Colleen Smith at Indiana in the fall of 2012.

"We're good friends," Anderson said. "I talk to her all the time. We went to camp at Indiana last summer and roomed together."


Marian Central setter Abby Gilleland has committed to attend St. Louis University next fall. The Billikens are enjoying a resurgence under the direction of head coach Anne Kordes, daughter of Louisville (Ky.) Assumption legend Ron Kordes. Anne Kordes has led St. Louis to three NCAA tournament appearances in six years.

"I think Anne saw a lot of herself in Abby," said Sky High director Scott Harris, where Gilleland plays club volleyball. "Abby leads the team and commands respect. She's the quarterback on the floor and a fierce competitor."


There were very few surprises among the seeds for the four classes of the IHSA state volleyball tournament released last week. However, the process drew widespread criticism and even precipitated some protest.

Coaches have less than 24 hours from the time they receive information from the IHSA that was submitted by the participating coaches to the time they must vote their seeds online. Many coaches feel it is not enough time to digest all the material and make a informed decision.

"We need to go back to the old system," said Hinsdale South coach Lisa Martinez, whose team is the third seed at the Romeoville sectional behind Benet and Hinsdale Central. "We need to meet face-to-face."

Whether in protest about the seeding process or the fact that nine of the 18 teams are private schools - including newcomer Queen of Peace - seven coaches whose teams are participating in the Class 3A (Aurora) Rosary sectional opted not to turn in their ballots at all.


Fremd girls volleyball coach Curt Pinley won his 600th high school volleyball match when the Vikings (19-8) defeated Woodstock in the final match of pool play at the Grayslake North invitational last weekend. In 18 years of coaching boys volleyball and 13 with the girls, Pinley's career mark is 602-438-3.


Fans who were looking foward to seeing Edwardsville at the Mizuno Cup tournament last weekend probaby felt cheated. Maddie Croft, the Tigers' outstanding 6-foot-1 middle hitter, missed Saturday's play due to "family obligations," accoridng to coach Jamie Parker.

Edwardsville, which had been seeded second in the tournament, lost all three of its matches on Saturday after going 2-0 in pool play with Croft on Friday.

Edwardsville's second middle also missed Saturday to serve in her school's homecoming court.


St. Charles East's state tournament bid took a hit last weekend when sophomore setter Erienne Barry went down with a knee injury. She was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, but preliminary indications are that it is an ACL injury.


It took a long time, but Barrington (14-14) finally reached the .500 mark. All the Fillies had to do was rally from an 11-0 deficit in its Mizuno Cup Silver division consolation semifinal against Watertown (Wis.) to win 18-25, 25-6, 25-18.

"We could not pass the ball in Game 1," Barrington coach Chris Bronke said. "But then we found a combination that worked and ran with it."

And that 25-6 victory in Game 2?

"When we serve well, we can play with anyone," Bronke said. "Getting down 11-0 and then making it 25-18 gave us a lot of confidence. For us to come in and go 1-1 in pool play (losing to Benet) and win two matches on Saturday was a big step for us."


Cary-Grove moved back to No. 2 in the most recent national rankings after last week's win at the Asics Challenge. Here are the three Illinois teams ranked in the top 25 nationally and comments by John Tawa:

2. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Current record: 25-0; Last week's ranking: 3

The Trojans were mighty impressive in downing Mother McAuley, Marist and Assumption, all in straight sets, to win the Asics Challenge in Chicago on Saturday. Kelly Lamberti and Colleen Smith are stars, but C-G has few weaknesses. The Trojans play Lake Zurich this evening and in the Schaumburg Invitational over the weekend. They really shouldn't be challenged again until the playoffs begin towards the end of October.

17. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Current record: 25-2; Last week's ranking: 16

The Redhawks impressed at the Asics Challenge last weekend despite losses to Cary-Grove and Berkeley Prep. Behind Katie Krasowski and Carks Niedospial, Marist won its pool, then dominated Sacred Heart in the Gold quarterfinals. On Wednesday, Marist defeated emerging Chicagoland power Benet in three as Mallory Salis had nine kills and Ashley Holder had 28 assists and 13 digs.

18. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Current record: 20-1; Last week's ranking: 20

Lyons played for the first time all year with junior standout Alexis Viliunas on Tuesday versus Downers Grove North. She contributed four kills and nine assists in the straight-set win.


Finally, should Cary-Grove survive tonight's match with Jacobs (and there is no reason to expect the Trojans will not), look for Patty Langanis' crew to ascend to the No. 1 ranking in this week's poll.


(pictured is Marist's Lauren Zielinski smashing a kill last week against Benet)

Thumbnail image for 5696569.jpg guru John Tawa dropped Cary-Grove from second to third in last week's national rankings. It was an error he is unlikely to repeat.

After the affable Tawa watch Cary-Grove dismiss (Louisville, Ky.) Assumption 25-23, 25-18 to win last weekend's Asics Challenge, he wrote that the Trojans would likely elevate to No. 2 in this week's new national rankings.

He also stated that the Trojans have joined an elite circle of teams that are now in national title contention. His article about the Asics Challenge final is reprinted with permission following a few other items of local interest.


After Cary-Grove defeated No. 2 Marist 25-7, 25-21 in the Asics semifinals and Mother McAuley 25-126, 25-22 in the quarterfinals, perhaps all that stands in the way of a second consecutive state title for the Trojans is No. 3-ranked Lyons.

Lyons (19-1) played its first 20 matches without 6-1 junior setter/outside hitter Alexis Viliunas, who fractured her wrist during a camp at Illinois this summer. She is expected to return soon, perhaps as early as this weekend's Glenbrook North invite.

Lyons' only loss this season was to Marist at the Rich East tournament.


The big tournament on tap this weekend is the 24-team St. Charles East Mizuno Cup at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.

Benet, which has won 11 of its last 12, is the top seed, followed by Edwardsville, (St. Louis, Mo.) Incarnate Word, which finished third at last weekend's Belleville East Metro Classic, and St. Charles East.

The next four seeds are Belleville Althoff, Hinsdale Central, Joliet Catholic and Rosary. Teams to watch include Hinsdale South, which shares a pool with Althoff and Lincoln-Way East, and Bloomington, in a pool with Hinsdale Central and Naperville North.

The tournament starts at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 8 with pool play and resumes at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday with bracket play. All matches will be played at the Great Lakes Center, and all third games will be to 15 points.

Meanwhile, Lyons and Libertyville are favored to meet in the finals of the Discovery Tournament at Glenbrook North. Pool play gets underway at 5:00 p.m. on Friday at Glenbrook North and New Trier. Championship play begins at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.


Speaking of Benet, former Redwings libero and Chicago Sun-Times all-area selection Brianne Riley (pictured above) of Kansas was named Big 12 Conference Rookie of the Week for the week ending September 18.

The 5-foot-6 defensive specialist recorded a team-high 15 digs and was perfect in 34 service receptions as the Jayhawks defeated Texas A&M, which was riding a four-match win streak including an upset of No. 8 Texas.

Earlier that week, Riley had 18 digs and six assists at Kansas State.

Riley became the first Jayhawk to win weekly conference honors in almost two years.


Here is John Tawa's article on following the Asics final:

Louisville Assumption, the most storied program in prep volleyball history and winners of 10 of the past 14 Asics Challenge events, led Illinois' Cary-Grove, 9-5, in the first set of Saturday's Challenge final in Chicago, seemingly in control of its destiny.

At that point in the match, Kelly Lamberti, C-G's outstanding attacker, had just one kill against two errors, but a lot of determination.

"We wanted to go out and beat them really badly," the senior outside hitter said. "I washed it away and re-started."

Behind Lamberti's 18 kills, the Trojans remained unbeaten on the year, defeating Assumption, 25-23, 25-18, to capture their first Asics Challenge.

"Obviously we didn't stop her," said Assumption coach Ron Kordes, whose team fell to 27-4. "We didn't block her and we didn't dig her. She was amazing."

"When she gets fired up there's really not an answer for her," added Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis.

The win capped an amazing Saturday for Cary-Grove, which defeated the host school Mother McAuley in the quarterfinals, coming from 14-4 down in the second set; and then swept previously unbeaten Marist in the semifinals. The defending Illinois 4A champs improved to 24-0 on the year and put themselves clearly in the national championship picture.

"A goal of ours was to win the Asics Challenge," said Langanis. "The whole week that's what we've been working towards and thinking about. But this whole weekend we hadn't been challenged by these storied teams that have been around for decades so I didn't know how we'd respond mentally against Assumption. But to see how calm we were and how composed we were when things were going bad and when things were going well shows a lot of mental toughness. To see that we can compete with these top programs is very exciting."

Early on in the final, it appeared that Assumption would be the team raising the championship trophy. The Rockets were getting strong back row play from libero Jackie Napper and got kills from Claire Gerwig and Laura Purcell in a 6-1 run that saw them lead 9-5. Assumption grew the lead to 12-7 after a terrific Napper dig set up a back row strike from Jeni Houser, Assumption's big horse.

Cary-Grove hung in as Lamberti heated up, but the Trojans were matched point for point by Assumption, which continued to lead, 19-15, on another Gerwig kill set up beautifully by junior setter Katie George.

Down four, Cary-Grove setter Colleen Smith decided it was time to look for her own offense. The Indiana-bound senior executed a perfect dump to pare the lead by one. It set the tone for a four-point Trojan run. Melanie Jereb, an athletic junior attacker, served an ace, Smith had another sweet dump, this one over the shoulder, and Lamberti delivered her seventh kill of the set to pull Cary-Grove even at 19-19.

A serving error thwarted the run and a hitting error followed, giving Assumption the lead once more. Cary-Grove had an answer, however. Ashley Rosch, a physical junior middle, went off speed on the next point, trying a two-hander to the right sideline. Napper was there with a great save, but the ball popped over to the net to Rosch, whose two-hander to the left sideline was true. Sophomore middle Mallory Wilczynski followed with a kill off of a serve-receive overpass to tie the set at 21-apiece.

Assumption middle Dallas Zimmerman untied it with a strong slide attack, but Lamberti countered with a kill, which sent Smith behind the line. Her tough first serve, combined with a nice dig from libero Sam Mainzer, led to Lamberti's tip, which put Cary-Grove ahead for the first time since 4-3. Her second was an ace, Cary-Grove's fourth of the game, and gave the Trojans two set points.

"We have a passing problem," said Kordes. "They aced us too many times in that first set."

Houser's fourth kill of the game, a vicious slide attack, saved one set point for Assumption. But the Rockets, scrambling to keep the ball alive on the next point, were called for a lift. Elated Cary-Grove had the first game!

"Two" was the theme at the beginning of the second set, as both teams seemed to score two points at a time. After an opening service error by Cary-Grove gave Assumption a 1-0 lead, a Lamberti kill and Jereb block made it 2-1 Cary-Grove. George's fantastic set to Houser and a lift call put Assumption out front. Three straight Cary-Grove kills followed, as Jereb, Allison Whimpey and Lamberti all scored, but Houser answered off of one foot and behind the service line to knot the set at 5-5.

It went on like this, more or less, with Houser getting her kills for Assumption and Lamberti matching her for Cary-Grove, until Purcell's tip, made possible by another nice Napper dig, gave Assumption the lead at 14-13.

It would be Assumption's last lead of the match.

Rosch tied the game with a tip, which sent Cary-Grove back behind the line. Whimpey's serve proved mighty. Her first effort produced an overpass the Jereb tapped down to give the Trojans the lead. Her next one fell for an ace, as Cary-Grove put perpetual pressure on Assumption's passers.

With Whimpey still serving, Cary-Grove scored twice more - on Smith's fourth dump of the match and a Jereb kill -- to take an 18-14 lead. C-G's advantage remained four until Lamberti rattled off one kill, then a second and finally a third in a row to give the Trojans seven match points leading 24-17. A serving error delayed the celebration for one point. Lamberti, ranging over to the right side, had the chance to make her 18th kill of the afternoon the final one of the Asics Challenge and she did not miss.

"Awesome," said the Ohio-bound attacker. "It's awesome to win this tournament. Senior year!"

"We fought for every point until we got to 25," said Smith, who finished with five amazing dumps. "We played with a ton of heart and energy. I thought we played outstanding."

"That's a solid team over there," said Kordes. "I thought they defended well and passed well. Their ball control was better than ours. Their defense was better than ours. And their setter did a great job. They served better than we did. They beat us pretty much in all phases."

With the win, Cary-Grove, ranked third nationally, thrust itself squarely into the national championship picture. No. 1 St. James improved to 26-0 Saturday by winning the Joan Wells Memorial Tournament, defeating Kansas 5A champion Bishop Miege in the finals for the third time this season. No. 2 Harvard-Westlake, which vaulted ahead of Cary-Grove in last Thursday's rankings after defeating Assumption en route to the title last weekend at the Durango Fall Classic, lost to Marymount on the day the rankings came out and will slip behind the Trojans in the next rankings.

Asked whether Harvard-Westlake or Cary-Grove was the better team, Kordes was non-committal.

"I would like to see [Cary-Grove] play Harvard-Westlake," he said. "I think it would be a good match. Those are the best two teams I've seen."

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