By Pat Brozynski

August 2011 Archives

Devils bedevil coach with another slow start

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Hinsdale Central coach Sheralynn Kellough is as perplexed as anyone by her team's slow start in 2011. But at least the Red Devils seem to be on the path to redemption.

"I don't know ho to explain it," she said. "We're trying different lineups. But we'll keep at it and hope it comes together sooner than later."

Hinsdale Central, ranked eighth in the preseason, finished 2-3 at the Benet Invitational for the second consecutive year. But the Red Devils showed signs of turning their early season around taking York to three games in the semifinals and beating Neuqua Valley in straight sets in the third-place match.

The Red Devils led York 18-13 in the third set of their semifinal before falling 25-13, 20-25, 25-20.

"We showed more intensity, more heart against York," Kellough said. "We just can't allow teams to have eight, 10, 12-point runs against us. We need to make better decisions running our offense. But we looked like a much better team than we did Friday night."

Watching her team struggle is even harder for Kellough, who is due with twins on November 23 and has to limit her sideline activity.

"I can't get off the bench as much as I'd like," she said. "It's hard to sit there."

***

Rosary (4-2) was on the bubble of breaking into the top 10 in the preseason, and an early three-set loss to Huntley in its opener and Saturday's semifinal loss to Naperville North at the Plainfield North tournament will keep the Royals from breaking into the top 10.

But Rosary also showed some signs of life at Plainfield North with a 26-24, 23-25, 15-8 win over Providence in pool play and a 25-21, 25-23 win over Hinsdale South in the third-place match.

Amelia Wegman led the Royals over the weekend with 47 kills, six blocks and 23 digs. Abby Konovodoff had 99 assists, 15 kills and 12 aces, Briana Flagg added 35 kills and six aces, Kati Baki had 38 digs and three aces, and Jen Hewitt added 14 kills and six blocks.

***

Defending Class 2A state champion Chicago Christian has picked up where it left off last year, improving to 6-1 with its 27-25, 25-10 victory Monday over Oak Lawn.

Senior middle hitter Becky DeRuiter led the Knights against the Spartans with eight kills and eight blocks. Senior outside hitter Maggie Kamp added three kills and six digs, libero Celaine Haan had 12 digs, junior middle Emily Lindemulder had 10 aces and sophomore setter Emily Workman had 18 assists and three kills.

Chicago Christian's only loss on the young season was to 2010 3A semifinalist Payton in pool pay of the Knights' tournament last weekend.

***

Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Naperville Central, Hersey, Stevenson, St. Ignatius and perennial Wisconsin power Waukesha Catholic are among the teams in the field of the Jacobs tournament September 3.

Semifinals are at 12:45 p.m. and the finals are optimistically scheduled one hour later at 1:45 p.m. Pool play begins at 9:00 a.m.

There's plenty of talent to go around in 2011

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Selecting the top 50 volleyball players in the Chicago area is no easy matter. There are many candidates worthy of pre-season recognition. While this list is by no means complete, it is a glance at some of the other top of volleyball players in the area just outside the top 50.

Jackie Aird, 5-3, Sr., DS, Mother McAuley
Katie Allen, 6-3, Sr., MH, Lincoln-Way East
Najoua Alliouala, 5-10, Sr., OH, Romeoville
Sharon Anderson, 5-8, Jr., S, Hinsdale South
Ryann Arundel, 5-8, Sr., S, Mother McAuley
Rachel Baader, 5-9, Jr., OH, Stevenson
Payton Bayless, 5-6, Sr., S, West Chicago
Tara Blake, 5-9, Jr., OH, Marian Central
Caitlin Brauneis, 5-10, Jr., S, Prairie Ridge
Brittany Busscher, 5-10, Sr., OH, Mundelein
Maureen Carls, 5-11, Sr., OH, Andrew
Grace Churney, 5-10, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Sammy Condon, 6-1, Jr., MB, Naperville Central
Lucy Crofton, 6-0, Jr., MB, Hinsdale Central
Rachel Dalton, 6-1, Jr., MH, Marist
Amanda Dee, 5-7, Sr., K, Barrington
Becky DeRuiter. 6-1, Sr., MH. Chicago Christian
DeeDee Dowd, 5-10, Sr., OH, Lincoln-Way Central
Katie Dudzinski, 6-1, Sr., OH, Kaneland
Annie Ferlman, 5-8, Sr., L/DS, Benet
Abby Fesl, 5-10, Jr., S, Hersey
Brianna Flagg, 5-9, Jr., OH, Rosary
Mary Grassano, 5-5, Sr., L, St. Ignatius
Celaine Haan, 5-6, Sr., L, Chicago Christian
Kelsey Haas, 5-11, Sr., OH, Hersey
Madeline, Haggerty, 6-1, So., OH, Benet
McKenzie Humm, 5-10, Jr., S, Prairie Ridge
Emma Hussey, 6-1, Sr., OH, Marian Central
Melanie Jereb, 6-1, Sr., OH, Cary-Grove
Kim Juriga, 6-1, Sr., OH, St. Charles North
Maggie Kamp, 6-1, Sr., OH, Chicago Christian
Taylor Kasal, 6-1, Sr., OH, Downers Grove North
Rachel Kent, 5-10, Jr., OH, Hinsdale South
Kara Kentner, 5-9, Sr., OH, Sandburg
Abby Konovodoff, 6-0, Sr., S. Rosary
Nichole Lambert, 6-1, Sr., MH, St. Charles East
Payton Lang, 6-0, Jr., OH, Barrington
Madison Lenzini, 5-11, Sr., OH, Whitney Young
Lauren Leverenz, 6-0, So. MB, Crystal Lake Central
Emily Lindemulder, 5-11, Jr., MH, Chicago Christian
Megan Litoborski, 5-8, Jr., S, Lemont
Sydney McPhillips, 5-8, Jr., OH, Mother McAuley
Emily Milligan, 5-5, So., L, Nazareth
Maisey Mulvey, 5-7, Sr., L, St. Charles East
Melissa Nava, 5-11, Sr., MH, Hinsdale South
Kaitlynn Novak, 5-11, Sr., OH, Neuqua Valley
Leighanne Novak, 5-11, Sr., OH, Neuqua Valley
Nora Palermo, 5-7, Jr., OH, West Chicago
Kristen Pedersen, 6-1, Sr., MB, Hersey
Amanda Perry, 5-10, Jr., OH, Glenbard West
Gabby Pethokoukis, 6-3, Sr., MB, Benet
Kate Phalen, 5-8, Sr., OH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Taylor Pippen, 6-0, Sr., OH, Carmel
Kathryn Polkoff, 6-2, Sr., MH, New Trier
Lauren Pusinelli, 5-10, Sr., OH, Glenbard East
Kellyanne Remy, 5-9, Sr., MH, Immaculate Conception
Kerry Risley, 6-0, Sr., MH, Libertyville
Lauren Robertson, 5-8, Sr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Lizzy Scanlon, 5-10, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Sam Schrenker, 6-1, Sr., MH, York
Morgan Semmelhack, 6-0, Sr., MH, York
Heidi Sierks, 5-9, Sr., S, Lake Forest
Jordan Smits, 5-7, Sr., OH, Timothy Christian
Courtney Somerville, 6-0, Sr., MH, St. Ignatius
Jill Stoltzenburg, 6-0, Sr., MB, St. Charles North
Lisa Studnicka, 5-11, Sr., OH, Waubonsie Valley
Megan Tallman, 5-10, Jr., S. Wauconda
Julia Thompson, 5-10, Jr., OH, Barrington
Jane Trazka, 5-10, Jr., OH, Glenbard South
Taryn Trubich, 5-9, Sr., OH, Plainfield Central
Katie Urchell, 5-8, Sr., OH, Providence
Carly Warner, 5-8, Sr., S, St. Francis
Kristen Webb, 5-6, Jr., L, Libertyville
Carly Wesoloski, 5-7, Jr., L, Naperville Central
Taylor Zant, 6-0, Jr., RS, Liberyville

***

Need something to do Saturday? You can check out Hinsdale South and Batavia among other teams at the Plainfield North tournament, while York, Hinsdale Central, Neuqua Valley, Lemont and the hosts are among the eight teams at the Benet invitational.

Putting a few more teams under the microscope

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cary grove.jpg

Cary-Grove (pictured above) setttled for second place in 2010. Who will win it all in 2011?

With the start of the 2011 season just a few days away, here's a look at more teams hoping to make an impression in the days and weeks ahead.

***

Libertyville finished 35-3 in 2010 after being upset in the sectional semifinals by Stevenson. Gone from that team are outside hitters Catie Steffen (Rhode Island) and Paige Hopper. But Greg Loika still has one of the best setters around in Cindy Zhou.

Zhou, a 6-foot junior and special mention Champaign News-Gazette selection, is headed to Michigan in two years where she hopes to follow in the footsteps of another Lake County standout, former Barrington setter Lexi Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, Zhou will set a team featuring a pair of returning attackers in 6-0 junior rightside Taylor Zant and 6-0 senior middle hitter Kerry Risley. Also back from last year is 5-6 junior libero Kristen Webb, who set the school single-season dig record in 2010.

Eileen Knauff, a 5-8 senior outside, returns after sitting out last year with an injury, while newcomers include 6-0 senior middle Katie Waehner, 6-1 senior Nicole Kruckman, 6-0 junior outside Julie Smagatz and 5-8 sophomore outside Rhiannon Prentiss.

"We are excited to have another talented group," Loika said. "We will be taxed to replace Steffen and Hopper, however, we have a young and talented group coming in. We hope to put together another solid campaign."

***

After finishing fourth in 2007 and second in 2009, Chicago Christian finally claimed a state Class 2A title in 2010. However, three Kamps graduated from that team - Maddie, Stacey and Emily - leaving Maggie to lead the Knights back to Redbird Arena.

Maggie Kamp, a 6-1 senior outside, was second on the team with better than 190 kills in 2010. She will be joined up front by 6-1 senior middle Becky DeRuiter (team-high 250 kills in 2010) and 6-0 junior Emily Lindemulder (155 kills, 85 blocks).

Libero Celaine Haan is back for another run in the back row, while junior Annika Evenhouse and sophomore Emily Workman could be sharing the load at the setter position.

Chicago Christian beefed up its schedule to include the McAuley Preview.

"We're excited to be starting another season at Chicago Christian," coach James Garcia said. "What else can we do? Our goal this year, aside from the obvious in trying to repeat, is to actually finish better in our conference."

Chicago Christian finished fourth each of the last two years behind St. Francis, Marian Central and Rosary. The Knights may face more of the same as all of those teams figure to be solid again in 2010.

***

Amanda Brown begins her 10th season at Oak Forest, and for the first time in a long time, she may actually be able to look her players in the eye.

"We have a little bit more height than we did last year," said Brown, who has a career mark of 190-113. "But we still need to find ways to generate the explosiveness that our offense has enjoyed over the past few years."

Oak Forest finished 22-17 last year and was 10-3 in the South Suburban Blue behind Lemont. Back from that team is Gina Ryan, a 5-6 all-conference outside hitter, 5-10 middle Stephanie Dagenais and libero Jill Krygowski.

New faces Oak Forest will be counting on include 5-10 junior setter Kate Zickus, 5-8 junior outside hitter Cassidy Staunton, 5-11 junior middle blocker Kathy Flanagan and 6-9 freshman outside Alissa Tattas.

"We are young and relatively inexperienced at the varsity level," Brown said. "I still have as many question marks today as I did in June. But slowly, players are starting to step up, personalities are melding nicely and the girls are all finding ways to contribute to a positive team chemistry."

***

Oak Forest's 2010 season ended in the T.F. North supersectional at the hands of (Chicago) Payton, which eventually finished fourth in the state for the second time in three years. Both those Payton teams had something in common - 5-8 outside hitter Michelle Schultz.

Schultz, a second-team Sun-Times All-Area selection in 2010, is back for her fourth varsity season, Last year, an injury to Roxanne Rivera forced Schultz into playing setter for nearly half of the season. This year, Schultz can just focus on hitting.

"Thank goodness she can hit this year full time as we have trained four other setters to handle that duty should something happen this year," Payton coach Joel Anderson said.

Also back from a year ago are 5-10 middle Kaimara Herron, who led the team in hitting percentage and blocks in 2010, 5-3 libero Leanne Okazaki, and 6-1 setter/outside hitter Tea Peric.

Hoping to fill out the starting six are defensive specialist Lindsay Okazaki, defensive specialist Alice Mei, 5-9 junior outside Claire Calkins, 5-6 junior outside Holly Bieber, 5-5 junior defensive specialist Emily Hayes and 5-6 sophomore setter Alyssa Estrada.

Payton lost two of its bigger pieces from last year's 32-10 team - 6-2 towers Mari Faines and Hannah Rehak. Buit while the Grizzlies may be a whole lot smaller, they should be better defensively and at ball control.

"If we figure out a couple of role players, we will be in good shape this season," Anderson said.

***

The passing of Crystal Lake Central coach and athletic director Doug Blundy left a void in high school athletics and certainly girls volleyball that may never be filled. The 24-year veteran led the Tigers to a 42-0 record and the state title in 2007 and a fourth-place finish in 2009.

"Central volleyball has had a long tradition of history and success under the direction of the late coach Doug Blundy," new coach Lisa Reddish said. "Under his guidance, the Tigers were consistently among the top teams in the Fox Valley and the area.

"As our new season begins, our team hopes to again be one of top teams in the FVC and one of the top teams in our area as well," Reddish said.

Central went 34-5 in 2010, losing to Marian Central 22-25, 25-15, 25-21 in the Class 3A sectional finals at Belvidere. Four starters graduated from that team. But back to make Reddish's job a little easier is 6-1 senior middle hitter Amelia Anderson.

Anderson, a second-team Sun-Times all-area selection in 2010, will be supported by 6-0 sophomore middle Lauren Leverenz, 5-9 setter/rightside hitter Caroline Sdregas and 5-8 defensive specialist Dana Shannon.

Reddish looks for big things from 5-8 senior outside hitter Victoria Day, who comes over from Prairie Ridge, and 5-5 defensive specialist Kellie Fredette.

Lincoln-Ways hope to challenge Marist, McAuley

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Thumbnail image for volleyball barry.jpg

Erienne Barry (right) and St. Charles East will host one of the premier tournaments of the season October 7-8 at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora.

Is this the year somebody challenges Marist and Mother McAuley for supremacy on the south side? It won't be for lack of trying.

Although Sandburg is expected to slip a little after suffering heavy graduation losses, Lincoln-Way Central and Lincoln-Way East look to be on the rise.

Lincoln-Way Central welcomes back five starters from last year's 18-17 team that continued to improve as the season wore on.

"Our challenge this year will be to continue and improve upon the success we had the second half of last season," coach Kathy Sulkowski said. "I expect this team to start and finish the season strong. Playing consistent, defensively sound volleyball is crucial for our success.

"We will battle with some of the top teams in the area, but this is the most mentally resilient team I have coached at Central so far," she added. "This is the year where we will challenge the girls not just to 'compete' in big matches, but to actually expect to win the big matches."

Among the returning starters is Danielle (Deedee) Dowd, a 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter. Dowd led the Knights with 240 in 2010 and was third on the team with 275 digs. Dowd has committed to continue her playing career ar Ferris State.

Also back is 5-8 senior outside hitter Amy Bernhard, who was named the team MVP after compiling 187 kills, 39 aces and 300 digs in 2010; 5-6 senior libero Val Crilly, who set a school record with 422 digs; and 6-3 junior middle hitter Amanda Dolan.

"Amanda has shown great improvement in the last year and will be a critical offensive factor for us," Sulkowski said.

Down the street, Lincoln-Way East isn't sitting still with four starters back from a 24-game winner including 5-10 four-year starter Lauren Behrens, who led the team in kills, and 6-3 three-year starter Katie Allen, who topped the Griffins in blocks.

Makayla Weller is a 5-10 senior outside, a junior who will contribute is libero Dana Van Dyck, while junior outside hitter Marissa De Groot also returns to the roster.

Sophomores Taylor Nirchi, a 5-7 setter, and Kayla Currier, a 6-0 middle, will be asked to step up their games.

"This is my 30th year coaching," said Lincoln-Way East's Linda Vivona, who has spent 16 of those years in District 210. "I have seen the Lincoln-Way programs split and am quite proud of how each continues to be solid during the transition."

***

Another team to watch in the far south suburbs is Lemont, where 12th-year coach Chris Zogata chases another South Suburban Conference Blue Division title minus six starters from last year's 27-10 sectional qualifier.

Back to ease some of the sting of those losses will be 5-9 senior outside hitter Emily Brown, 5-9 junior setter Megan Litoborski, defensive specialists Gabbie Alvarez and Lauren Donar and senior outside hitter Katie Pellegrene.

"Emily will be the solid go-to hitter this year," Zogata said. "Her experience at the varsity level will help our younger players.Megan is a smart setter who moves the ball around. Her serving will gain us some free points this year.

"This is a rebuilding year for Lemont," the coach added. "Gaining experience will be the No. 1 priority. Improving every match will help in our success. The girls are very competitive but lack experience. I feel we will have a successful season with much growth."

***
Immaculate Conception coach Jean Field will begin her 37th year of coaching this fall just three wins shy of 800 for her career. The milestone should come early in the season given the talent the Knights return.

Eight players return from last year's 24-15 team that reached the Class 2A supersectional before falling to eventual state champion Chicago Christian. Among them are all-conference middle hitter Kellyanne Remy and all-conference setter sophomore Kimmy Martino.

Also returning are Jennifer Clementi, a 5-foot-11 senior middle hitter; junior setter Liz Martino; junior outside hitter Emily Hartnett; junior libero Kathleen Ryan; outside hitter Katelyn Conenna; and 5-9 middle hitter Juliette Ambrogi.

Top newcomers include 5-9 sophomore outside Delaney D'Amore; 5-11 sophomore middle hitter Rory Manion; junior outside Allie Cervone; 5-3 junior defensive specialist Lauren Roberto; and 5-4 junior back row specialist Alexis Heit.

"We lost two starters from our 2010 team,' Field said. "One was an outside hitter and played all the way around, and the other was a defensive specialist. We would like to exceed last year's performance."

***

The FIVB Volleyball Girls' Youth World Championship 2011 will be held in Ankara, Turkey on August 12-21. Among the 16 teams from around the world competing will be the U.S. team that includes West Aurora's Lauren Carlini.

Go to the following website for more information about the U.S. team:

http://www.fivb.org/EN/volleyball/competitions/Youth/Women/2011/#

For live streams of the United States' games at 11:00 a.m. CDT Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14, go to www.voleyboltv.com.

Dodd, St. Ignatius hope to make big splash

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St. Ignatius may not be a household word in Illinois volleyball yet, but that could all change by the time November rolls around.

The Wolfpack finished 29-10 in 2010 and reached the sectional finals before losing to eventual state champion Lyons 25-13, 25-17. Every starter is back from that team, including superstar setter Sophia Dodd.

Dodd, a 5-foot-11 junior and Wake Forest recruit, was named the MVP of the 16 Open division at the AAU Junior National Tournament in Orlando, Fla. in late June after leading her 1st Alliance 16 Silver team to the national title.

Last year, she had 169 kills, 197 digs and 28 aces for the Wolfpack.

"Sophia has met all expectations so far and is one of the best setters in the country as a junior," St. Ignatius coach Erik Eastman said. "This will be her first season running a 5-1 offense, and with the entire passing and defensive core returning, things look solid in 2011."

Dodd won't be the entire story on the near west side, however. She will be joined by veterans Courtney Somerville, a 6-foot senior middle, 5-11 junior outside hitter Camille Evans and 5-8 senior libero Mary Grassano.

Evans had 182 kills and 24 aces last year while Grassano compiled 491 digs and 84 aces. The Wolfpack will also get a boost from Rachel Lock, who sat out last year with injury, and incoming 6-1 freshman rightside Kristen Somerville.

"This should be the best team we have ever had here at St. Ignatius and my expectations are very high," Eastman said. "We have revamped the schedule to make it tougher, and I feel this group deserves a longer look."

And don't think GCAC rival Mother McAuley hasn't noticed.

The Mighty Macs, who finished 31-8 in 2010 after losing to Marist in the sectional finals, also return the bulk of their team including six seniors who are beginning their third season at the varsity level.

Leading the Macs is 5-8 senior Ryann Arundel, a lefthanded setter/rightside who has been with coach Jen DeJarld since she was a sophomore. Also back are 5-8 junior outside Sydney McPhillips, 5-9 senior outside Lizzie Scanlon and 6-foot senior middle Lauren Grady.

While McAuley will have plenty of firepower, the Macs' bread-and-butter will still be their trademark tenacious defense. Bridget Powell, a 5-5 senior and three-year starter at libero, is among the best in the nation. Fellow third-year defender Jackie Aird is cat-quick in the backrow.

"I think this team brings more experience and focus than last year's team," DeJarld said. "They will be more balanced and have better ball control, but most of all we will have experience and senior leadership.

"This group is extremely focused and determined to contend for state, and I believe we have the work ethic, leadership and competitiveness to do so," the coach said.

***

Neuqua Valley should be one of the better teams in the west suburbs this season thanks to four returning starters including 6-1 senior and DePaul recruit Callie Heubener. Heubener was a member of the Sports Performance 17 Mizuno team that finished ninth at AAU nationals.

"Aside from being a tremendous jumper and athlete, Callie is still developing and has not even begun to meet her potential," Neuqua Valley coach Kelly Simon said. "She will be a standout for us this season."

Heubener and the Wildcats will also showcase the talents of Leighanne Novak, a 5-11 Western Illinois recruit and Heubener's club teammate; 5-11 Kaitlynn Novak, who played for powerful SPVB 18 Red; and 5-10 junior Taylor McKeown.

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