By Pat Brozynski

December 2010 Archives

Looking ahead at the 2011 season (Part II)

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Editor's note: This is the second of a three-part series looking ahead to the 2011 season. Here are 11 more teams throughout Illinois to watch:


Joliet Catholic - Many observers did not expect Joliet Catholic to take Mater Dei to the limit in their Class 3A state championship match, given the losses to graduation the Angels suffered the previous spring. But if we learned anything, it's not to discount the girls in Columbia blue and white. Back in 2011 will be junior outsides Kelly Feigh and Lauren Robertson, sophomore outside Morgan Reardon and slick libero Jill Hickey. Coach Chris Scheibe just needs to find a setter and a middle and her veterans will do the rest.

Lyons - How do you replace Illinois recruit Jocelynn Birks? How do you replace setter Erin Juley, who stepped in when Alexis Viliunas missed the first 20 matches while recovering from a wrist injury? How do you replace steady albeit unspectacular middles Kelsey Keeve and Julia Watkins? The answer is you probably don't. Vilunas, 5-10 junior outside hitter Laura Williams and 5-4 junior libero Megan Miller make a nice nucleus. But the defending state Class 4A champions have a lot of work to do if they plan on repeating.

Marist - At least one south suburban Chicago scribe picked Marist to knock off Lyons in a Class 4A supersectional and win it all. Maybe he was a year ahead of himself. The RedHawks return most of their starters including 5-8 setter Ashley Holder, 6-4 middle Lauren Zielinski, 6-1 sophomore rightside Rachel Dalton and 5-9 sophomore outside Mallory Salis. But Marist will have a tough time replacing the irreplaceable Caroline Niedospial at libero and steady if not spectacular middle Katie Krasowski.

Mother McAuley - There is a first time for everything, and Mother McAuley's loss to Marist in the sectional finals was its first ever post-season loss to its south side rival. However, you can bet that the Macs will be back. So will 5-8 junior setter/outside hitter Ryann Arundel, 5-6 defender Bridget Powell, 5-10 outside hitter Lizzie Scanlon and 5-8 sophomore outside hitter Sydney McPhillips. However, the loss of leading hitter Mary Kate Styler and setter Kailey Scott will leave a sizeable void for coach Jennifer DeJarld.

Naperville Central - The Redhawks won a Class AA title in 2005 and a 4A title in 2007, but have been out of the limelight since. However, coach Brie Isaacson won 20 games with five sophomores and a freshman seeing extensive court time in 2010 and is quietly building another state contender. Top players are sophomore setter/opposite hitter Alysia Baznik, freshman setter Ivy Lei, sophomore middles Sammy Condon and Nikki Connors, sophomore outside hitter Kendall Ward and sophomore libero Carolyn Wesoloski.

Providence - A promising season was dealt a blow before it even began when 6-foot senior outside Noelle Burchett went down with an ACL injury during Week 1. Under a new coach for the first time in nearly 30 years (Rachel Ellingson), the Celtics recovered to win a regional title before falling to Marist in a sectional semifinal. Back from that team are stellar 6-1 junior Nora Mitros, 6-foot middle Alyssa Podwell, 5-8 junior outside Katie Urchell and 5-9 sophomore setter Krista Brakauskas.

St. Charles East - A late-season injury to super setter Erienne Barry means we will never know if the Saints could have made a lengthy postseason run. But if Barry can stay healthy in 2011, St. Charles East has a shot at getting back to the state finals. Junior Meghan Niski is one of the state's top outside hitters, and she and Barry will get plenty of help from 5-7 junior libero Maisey Mulvey and 6-1 junior middle Nichole Lambert. Keep an eye on 6-1 sophomore Nicole Woods and 5-9 junior Stephanie Camper, who stepped in for the stricken Barry.

St. Francis - Was the Spartans' 11-25, 25-20, 25-18 loss to Joliet Catholic in the sectional finals - its third consecutive state tournament loss to the Angels - a last hurrah? Setter Kelly Reinke, libero Gina Madonia and 6-2 outside hitter Meg Vonderhaar are gone. All that remains is 6-2 Daiva Wise and a couple of 5-10 juniors who prospered in complementary roles - Haley Gable and Grace Churney. Can sophomore McKenna Kelsay step in at setter? St. Francis has not been to the big dance since 2007, an eternity for a Peg Kopec-coached team.

Springfield Lutheran - Six-foot-2 setter/outside hitter Abby Heise (more than 350 kills and 300 assists in 2010) and the Crusaders could have their way next fall with an embarrassment of riches returning. In addition to the multi-talented Heise, Springfield Lutheran also welcomes back sophomore setter/rightside Cydney Long, 5-11 sophomore outside Naomi Quigg, 5-10 freshman middle hitter Jeslyn Roat, 5-11 freshman rightside Jordan Cowles and defensive stalwart Jamie Voigtmann.

Toledo Cumberland - The Lady Pirates have two third-place finishes and a fourth to show for their three consecutive Class 1A state semifinal appearances. Will they finally win the big trophy in 2011? Back for Cumberland are 5-9 junior opposite Mercedes Sparks, 5-9 sophomore middle Kassidy Hunt and 5-8 junior outside Tayler McCullough. But the bigger question in Toledo might be...will coach Amy Roan will be back next fall? Cumberland has had three head coaches in three years.

York - Coach Patty Iverson vowed after her team's loss in the fourth-place game that there would be a "next time," and 2011 seems like a pretty good bet with five starters back including 5-6 junior outside hitter Caroline Rose. Rose almost single-handedly defeated Lyons in the second game of their semifinal match. Also back from this year's 34-6 team will be 6-foot junior middle Morgan Semmelhack, 5-11 sophomore outside Melissa Deatsch, 5-8 junior setter Katie Gallagher, and 6-1 junior middle hitter Sam Schrenker.

Other teams to watch: Chicago Christian, Chicago Payton, Chicago Young, Crystal Lake Central, DeKalb, Downs Tri-Valley, Hersey, Hinckley-Big Rock, Hinsdale Central, Huntley, Jacksonville, Marian Central, Mt. Pulaski, Orion, Pleasant Plains, Prairie Ridge, Sandburg, St. Ignatius, Wauconda.

Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part look ahead at the 2011 season.

There is an old saying, "It's never too late to look back, and never too soon to look ahead."

If the 2010 Illinois girls state volleyball championships proved anything, it's that if you want to know what is going to happen in the future, you don't have to look much further than what has already happened in the past.

The meeting between Cary-Grove and Lyons for the 2010 Class 4A title was ordained in the 2009 finals. Was there any doubt that Breese Mater Dei and Joliet Catholic would find their way to the 3A title match? And Chicago Christian proved that if at first you don't succeed...

Perhaps the only surprise was tiny Scales Mound (71 students) in Class 1A. Bidding to become the smallest school to win a state title since Hartsburg-Emden (88 students) won the Class A title in 2006, Scales Mound upset two-time defending champ Lanark Eastland in the sectional finals and came within four match points of history.

So as we look ahead to 2011, we should probably seek our state title storylines in the aftermath of the 2010 season:

With five of its top seven players back, will York become the second West Suburban Silver team to win a state title in as many years?

Can Edwardsville become the first downstate school since Belleville West in 1991 to win a big-school title?

Will Joliet Catholic return to the top of the 3A heap with four starters back, or will Breese Mater Dei overcome major graduation losses to repeat?

Can Bloomington Central Catholic bring the title "home" in Class 2A?

Is there another Cinderella story lurking in 1A, or will Abby Heise and Springfield Lutheran prove too big an obstacle?

Here is a look at some of the teams you can expect to find at the top of the polls in 2011:

Barrington - The Fillies won 20 matches with a lineup that featured three sophomores and two juniors. Now all they need is a coach. Chris Bronke, who took the Fillies to the semifinals in 2006, has called it quits. Whoever succeeds Bronke will inherit 5-10 sophomore Julia Thompson, 6-0 sophomore outside Peyton Lang, 6-0 sophomore middle Lauren Schechtman, 5-9 junior outside Joy Johnson and junior libero Amanda Dee. There is nobody to make anyone forget Nellie Spicer or Laura Holloway, but 25-30 wins is not unrealistic.

Benet - Were the Redwings overrated or did they underachieve in 2010? Since faltering in the 2008 finals with a lineup loaded with seven Division I prospects, a state title gets more elusive each year. Will things turn around in 2011? Six-foot Virginia Tech recruit Jenna Jendryk is one of the most dynamic hitters in the state and will be joined up front by the Haggertys - 6-2 junior Meghan and 6-1 freshman Madeline. There is also size in juniors (6-1) McKenzie Kuhn and (6-3) Gabby Pethokoukis, but what Benet really needs is a setter and a libero.

Belleville Althoff - Lisa Orlet is out after two years (to take an assistant coaching job in the college ranks) and former Althoff player Sara Thomas is in as head coach. Also gone are Hillary Keltner, Missy Muckensturm and Me'Ashah Nicholson. But the Crusaders' cupboard is rarely bare, and Thomas, who served as an assistant in 2010, will welcome back 10 returning letterwinners including 5-9 setter Sara Birk. Mater Dei drilled the Crusaders in a 2010 sectional semifinal, but Althoff has got to like its chances in 2011.

Bloomington Central Catholic - The Saints will welcome back more than 900 kills and all but 20 assists from its 30-10 third-place state team, making them a prohibitive favorite to bring the Class 2A title at "home" next fall. Top returnees include 5-8 sophomore outside Danielle Davis (who had more than 300 kills and 300 digs in 2010), 5-8 junior outside Kaitlyn Harrison, 5-9 junior middle blocker Kailla Baptiste, 5-8 freshman middle/rightside hitter Caroline Holt and 5-10 junior setter Meredith Boe, one of the best in the state.

Breese Central - How do you replace 5-9 senior middle Jena Hemann, one of the state's most outstanding all-around athletes, and her nearly 400 kills? You don't, but that does not mean Breese Central will toss in the towel next fall. The Cougars will rely on four juniors - 5-8 outside Meredith Timmons, 6-0 middle Taylor Voss, 5-10 outside Paige Maue and 5-4 setter Casey Schulte - and 5-10 freshman middle hitter Maddie Timmermann to try to get coach Jim Cook his fourth state title.

Breese Mater Dei - The Lady Knights finally broke the Joliet Catholic "curse" to win the 2010 Class 3A state title, and while they won't be out of the picture in 2011, it's hard to imagine that they will be able to overcome the loss of players like Alison Mueller, Nicole Strieker, Kaley Boeckmann and Ashley Rakers. Mater Dei will rebuild around 5-10 junior outside Brooke Schulte, 5-7 junior setter Sam Bedard, 5-10 junior outside Kayla Eversgerd and 6-foot junior middle Abbey Winter, who were all starters and key contributors.

Decatur St. Teresa - The Bulldogs were one of the youngest teams to reach the state finals regardless of class, so it's hard to imagine they can't make another run in 2011. Led by 5-9 junior outside hitter Alexis Clemons (320 kills), 5-8 freshman outside hitter Marie Less (232 kills), 5-6 junior setter Jordan Wooden, 5-10 junior middle Claire Raycraft and 5-6 junior libero Erin Hettinger, Decatur St. Teresa will look to improve upon its 37-3 record and fourth-place Class 2A finish in 2010.

Downers Grove North - Injury problems and youth were issues for the Trojans during the early stages of the 2010 season. But Downers North was playing well late in the season before running into a hot Naperville Central team in a regional semifinal. If coach Mark Wasik can keep his team healthy, they could be among the best in the west suburbs. Expected back are 6-2 junior Jessie Tulacka, 6-1 junior Taylor Kasal, 6-1 sophomore Grace Borgard, 6-1 freshman Katherine Mahlke and 5-6 sophomore libero Carolyn Nojiri.

Edwardsville - Six-foot junior Sam Epenesa, 5-11 freshman Camrey Saye, 5-7 junior libero Tori Guswelle, 5-10 junior rightside hitter Taylor Marshall and 6-foot sophomore middle blocker Sarah Parker return from this year's 32-9 third-place finisher in Class 4A. But whether the Tigers, or anyone from the Peoria-area sectional for that matter, advance to Normal next year really depends on whether their potential supersectional opponent from the western suburbs sectional decides to show up.

Hinsdale South - The Hornets were unable to capitalize on their emotionally-charged 29-31, 28-26, 30-28 sectional victory over Benet, falling meekly to Edwardsville in the Normal supersectional. Hinsdale South will probably have to get past Benet or an improved Naperville Central team to earn another shot at state in 2011, but don't discount 5-9 sophomore outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn, 5-11 junior Melissa Nava, 5-8 sophomore setter Sharon Anderson and 5-10 rightside Rachel Kent.

***

Congratulations to Kelly Lamberti of Cary-Grove, who was named the 2010 Gatorade Illinois Player of the Year.

The 6-foot senior outside hitter recorded 320 kills, 210 digs, 72 service aces and 44 blocks this past season while posting a kill percentage of .476, leading the Trojans (41-1) to the Class 4A state final. A four-year varsity starter for the nation's No. 5 team as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com, Lamberti was the 2010 Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year.

Lamberti has maintained a 3.78 GPA in the classroom. A devoted member of her church community, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the Salvation Army and in association with multiple food and clothing drives for area homeless.

"Kelly may be the most dominating player I have seen in a long time," said Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis. "All year, every game, she was on and ready to play. The bigger the match, the better she played. She was unstoppable all season."

Lamberti has signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at Ohio University beginning in the fall of 2011.

Lamberti joins recent Gatorade Illinois Players of the Year Annemarie Hickey (Joliet Catholic, 2009), Hannah Werth (Chatham Glenwood, 2008) and Kelly Murphy (Joliet Catholic, 2007) among the state's list of former award winners.

Stars come out to play at Moraine Valley

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Thirty-six of the top Illinois high school senior volleyball players competed in the inaugural SportsTownChicago.com High School Volleyball All-Star match Monday at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

Team Pink needed five sets to defeat Team White 23-25, 25-12, 25-23, 24-26, 15-9. The senior-only event, with players selected by area sportswriters, reporters and analysts, was also a benefit for A Silver Lining Foundation (www.asilverliningfoundation.org) with proceeds at the door going to breast cancer awareness.

The event, which was broadcast live on SportsTownChicago.com (a student/graduate staffed internet radio station operated by the Illinois Center for Broadcasting in Lombard), exceeded expectations, according to organizers.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of the event, and especially the high level of game play that these girls brought to the court," said Peter Ferreri, Ph.D., program director of SportsTownChicago.com. "The proceeds of the event were raised for charity, and I wanted that to stay a theme as even the official game balls were pink and white to reflect the event itself donated by Baden.

"Girls from all over the state were chosen, and we had players drive in from more than three hours away to participate in this event to display their skills one last time," Ferreri added.

Cary-Grove's Kelly Lamberti, who had 20 kills and five aces, was named the MVP. Coaches James Garcia from Chicago Christian and Patty Langanis from Cary Grove utilized all the players at their disposal. Players were awarded a plaque and event shirt.

"I was excited that I was picked, and it was really nice to play with girls who are so talented," said Marian Central libero Dena Ott, who will be attending Eastern Kentucky next fall.

The Illinois Center for Broadcasting is nationally accredited radio and television broadcasting career college. For more information about SportsTownChicago.com contact Peter Ferreri at (630) 916-1700 and for more information about the Illinois Center for Broadcasting contact Dan Allen at (630) 916-1700, e-mail allen.d@beonair.com or visit the school's website at www.BeOnAir.com.

***

Alex LoCicero and Pete Ferreri from SportsTownChicago.com compiled a list of top Juniors, sophomores and freshmen in the state from their many and varied travels during the season.

Their list includes: Abby Gilleland (Marian Central Catholic); Emma Hussey (Marian Central Catholic); Amelia Anderson (Crystal Lake Central); Julia Conard (West Chicago); Jenna Jendryk (Benet); Meghan Niski (St. Charles East); Caroline Rose (York); and Michelle Schultz (Payton).

Also, Ally Davis (Hinsdale Central); Amy Dion (Huntley); Ashley Holder (Marist); Jenna Jacobson (Whitney Young); Mary Nilles (Batavia); Amanda Orchard (Lake Zurich); Alexis Viliunas (Lyons); Laura Williams (Lyons); Meghan Haggerty (Benet); Daiva Wise (St. Francis); and Lauren Zielinski (Marist).

Also, Melanie Jereb (Cary-Grove); Ashley Rosch (Cary-Grove); Samantha Epenesa (Edwardsville); Brooke Schulte (Breese Mater Dei); Maggie Kamp (Chicago Christian); Celaine Haan (Chicago Christian); Becky Deruiter (Chicago Christian); Kelly Feigh (Joliet Catholic) and Jill Hickey (Joliet Catholic).

Also, Lauren Robertson (Joliet Catholic); Meredith Timmons (Breese Central); Meredith Boe (Bloomington Central Catholic); and Alexis Clemons (Decatur St. Teresa).


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This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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