Does (No. 4 pictured at right) sophomore Jessica Brezwyn's HInsdale South team have all the pieces in place for a run at the 2011 state title?
Wondering who might win the Class 4A state in 2011? You're not alone.
According to research conducted by an unnamed source, your likely winner in Class 4A is either York or Marist.
Why? It's a little complicated, but those are the only schools that share a characteristic with the last five state champions in either Class AA or Class 4A -- a Division I senior setter and two outside hitters who played for either the Sports Performance, 1st Alliance, Club Fusion or Sky HIgh 16-1 team.
(Actualy, every team that finished second also had a senior future Division I setter, and all save Rockton Hononegah had at least one outside hitter that played on a Spri, 1st Alliance, Fusion or Sky High team...but not two).
Here are the last five state champions in 4A and why they stack up:
2010 -- Lyons had not one but two future Division I setters in Erin Juley and Alexis Viliunas, and two outside hitters who played on 1st Alliance's 16-1 team in Jocelynn Birks and Laura Williams. (Note: Lyons will have only two of those pieces in 2011.)
2009 -- Cary-Grove had Abbey Heredia setting and juniors Kelly Lamberti and Colleen Smith roaming on the outside.Lamberti and Smith both played outside at one time for Sky High's 16-1 team which won a national club chamionship.
2008 -- Laura Homann set for St. Charles East before moving on to big-time college ball, while two of her favorite targets were sisters Caroline (Maryland) and freshman Meghan Niski. The Niskis both played outside for Fusion 16-1. Having Jacqui Seidel on the outside didn't hurt, either.
2007 -- No wonder Naperville Central was so good. Meghan McMahon was the Redhawks' Division I setter and she had three outside hitters off Sports Perormance's 16-1 team to turn her attention to -- Rebecca Heath, Emily McGee and Megan Bray.
2006 -- St. Francis had Michelle Kocher (Texas) setting (although she was only a junior at the time) and Meg Boken and Alyssa Rio on the outside (Sports Performance's 16-1 team).
So the magic formular for 2011? A future senior Division I setter and two outside hitters who played on either Spri's, 1st Alliance's, Fusion's or Sky High's 16-1 team. The only teams to meet that criteria in 4A? York and Marist.
Oh, and Joliet Catholic, too. But the Angels are in 3A.
There are some teams that come close with two out of the three pieces. Those teams include St. Charles East, Hnsdale South, Huntley, Downers Grove North, Mother McAuley and Lyons in 4A. Rosary and Marian Central have two out of three in 3A.
Of course, this is good in theory. But what is really does is point to one fact: the team that wins the state title among the big schools usually has an abundance of talent. A little luck doesn't hurt, either.
Lisa Orlet is out and Sara Thomas is in at perennial downstate power Belleville Althoff, it was announced last week.
Orlet left to become an assistant coach at Washington University in St. Louis. She succeeded Kathy Wuller two years ago as coach at Althoff, posting a record of 53-22 including 25-13 this season that ended with a sectional semifinal loss to Breese Mater Dei.
Thomas is 24 years old and a graduate of Missouri State University. A former player at Althoff, Thomas was a member fo the team that finished fourth in Class AA in 2003. Her sister Carly plays at Missouri State. Thomas is an assistant manager of sales for a meat company in Fayetteville, Mo.
Here are the most recent national rankings (sans comments) by Prepvolleyball.com's John Tawa. Cary-Grove fell out of the No. 1 spot to No. 5 while Lyons climbed to No. 4. I included the entire top 10 for comparison purposes.
2010 Century Club National High School Rankings
1. St. James (Lenexa, Kansas)
Final record: 44-1; Last week's ranking: 3
2. Burris (Muncie, Indiana)
Final record: 39-0; Last week's ranking: 2
3. Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska)
Final record: 41-0; Last week's ranking: 4
4. Lyons Township (La Grange, Illinois)
Final record: 41-1; Last week's ranking: 10
5. Cary-Grove (Cary, Illinois)
Final record: 41-1; Last week's ranking: 1
6. Mount Vernon (Iowa)
Final record: 41-0; Last week's ranking: 6
7. Assumption (Louisville, Kentucky)
Final record: 39-4; Last week's ranking: 7
8. Pope (Marietta, Georgia)
Final record: 54-1; Last week's ranking: 8
9. La Jolla Country Day (California)
Current record: 28-3; Last week's ranking: 9
10. King (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Current record: 46-3; Last week's ranking: 13
25. Mater Dei (Breese, Illinois)
Final record: 41-1; Last week's ranking: 26
39. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Final record: 37-3; Last week's ranking: 38
69. Benet (Lisle, Illinois)
Final record: 32-7; Last week's ranking: 71
70. Mother McAuley (Chicago, Illinois)
Final record: 32-8; Last week's ranking: 72
71. Joliet Catholic (Joliet, Illinois)
Final record: 34-8; Last week's ranking: 74
91. Edwardsville (Illinois)
Final record: 32-9; Last week's ranking: 96
York (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Final record: 36-6; Last week's ranking: 76
Teams on the bubble:
Illinois: Belleville Althoff, Crystal Lake Central, Hersey, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Huntley, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Marian Central, Minooka, Moline, Quincy, Sandburg, St. Francis, Stevenson, York.