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