The 2011 season came to an early end for York's Katie Gallagher (left) and Caroline Rose, but there is a lot of volleyball ahead for the two seniors.
Six-foot-2 senior outside hitter Maggie Kamp has developed into a six-rotation player for Chicago Christian, and her defense was almost as important for the Knights in their 21-25, 25-14, 25-21 win over Timothy Christian in the Class 2A supersectional Saturday at Lisle as her nine kills.
"Last year, I would sub her out in the back row," Chicago Christian coach James Garcia said. "And this is a girl who didn't play club in the offseason. She decided to bowl for the high school team.
"So there were a lot of question marks for her, especially with her passing and defense," he added. "Again, that's a senior and leader. She really stepped into that role this year and did a phenomenal job for us."
Another player who stepped up for the Knights is 5-8 sophomore setter Emily Workman, who had 20 assists and two big blocks in the victory.
"When she plays club, she is more of a rightside hitter and blocker," Garcia said. "She never really got to set a lot. She hasn't done a lot of hitting and blocking this year because she's been setting.
"But whenever I have a chance to run a 6-2, she gets that opportunity and I think it's that killer instinct in her," he added. "She wants to try to do good at whatever position she's playing."
Most Chicago Public Schools still have a way to go to become competitive with their suburban counterparts. But that is not true for the city's elite teams, as Whitney Young proved by extending Lyons to three sets in their sectional championship match.
A big reason for Young's success was 5-11 senior outside hitter Madison Lenzini, who was named the MVP of the city's top league.
"Lenzini has been incredible from start to finish and has carried that team consistently in all aspects," Payton coach Joel Anderson said. "She dismantled Downers Grove North with 16 kills and a ton of digs, and against Lyons she had more than 20 kills...and she does that when everyone knows who's getting the ball."
Another outstanding city product was Payton's 5-9 senior Michelle Schultz, who finished with just under 1,000 kills for her career and helped lead Payton to two state semifinal appearances, the first by any city team since CPS forfeited its automatic berth.
"Michelle did what she was expected this year and led us in just about every statistical category after returning to the outside hitter position," Anderson said.
Schultz finished had 353 kills this season while hitting .382. She also had 60 aces, 255 digs and 33 blocks in 80 sets. Her career marks include 998 kills and more than 860 assists and 880 digs.
York's Caroline Rose and Katie Gallagher expected to be heading south to Normal this weekend to try to improve upon last year's fourth-place finish. Instead, they will be watching the state tournament from the sidelines.
"It's very disappointing," Gallagher said. "We had a big goal for ourselves this season and it wasn't accomplished. I am so proud of how we played throughout this season, but when it came time to do what we needed to, we didn't execute and the other team did."
Gallagher will head to Iowa State next fall to play for the Cyclones, who were 17-4 and had the third-best RPI in the nation as of October 30.
"I'm really excited to be playing for them," Gallagher said. (Head coach) Christy (Johnson-Lynch) has a great background in setting. I think I can learn a lot from her. It's a five-and-a-half hour drive. I will be able to come home when I need to, but probably not very much."
Rose will take her all-around talents to Western Michigan, which is 23-5 overall and 12-2 in the MAC and has won 10 straight matches.
"We had a really good season," Rose said about her final high school campaign. "We had a lot of fun and were really successful. It was tough to lose at the end, but we have a good season.
"I have a lot of volleyball ahead of me still, so it's good," she added.
Neuqua Valley did not have the season it had hoped for, finishing 21-17 and losing 25-21, 25-20 to Plainfield Central in the regional final. But the Wildcats will send three players on to Division I schools in the fall.
Callie Huebener, Leighanne Novak and Kaitlynn Novak were all unanimous All-Upstate Eight Conference selections. Huebener is headed to DePaul, while the Novaks will take their talents to Western Illinois University in Macomb.
"These three young ladies are three of the top athletes I have coached in nearly 20 years as a varsity volleyball coach," Neuqua Valley's Kelly Simon said. "Their support casting was not as strong as in the past and we played a much tougher schedule this season than ever before."
Longtime Lockport volleyball coach Julia Hudson wrapped up her 32nd and final season as head coach in the sectional semifinals at Aurora West last week.
"It has been a great trip," Hudson said. "The relationships you get with coaches, with reporters, with everything that revolves around this. Sometimes the work with everything that comes around, I won't miss. But I'll miss the relationships."
Hudson, who is also retiring from teaching, is not sure whether she will relocate. But she is leaning toward moving closer to her family.
"I'm originally from Evansville, so I'm a Hoosier," she said. "I'll probably head back that way. But the best of both worlds would be six months here and six months there because my family is still there."
Hudson said she may not completely severe her ties to coaching.
"I always told my sister and anybody that wants to listen that I wish someone would just pay me to work out eight hours a day," she said. "That would be the perfect job for me. We'll see what things are open. Now that volleyball season is over, I'll investigate it a little more."
Hudson finished her career with more than 700 wins and a state title in 1993 when the Porters finished 40-3 behind Nicole and Jennifer Peterson.
"That is my fondest memory," she said. "The twins were very, very special. All the kids are very special. They really are, each in their own way. But any time you win a state championship, that's the ultimate."
No. 28 Marist is the top-rated Chicago-area team in the most recent Prepvolleyball.com Century Club national rankings, down from last week's 26th. Other nationally-ranked teams include No. 29 Benet, No. 32 York, No. 56 St. Charles East, No. 64 Joliet Catholic, No. 66 St. Francis and No. 72 Cary-Grove.
St. Charles East's Meghan Niski (left), pictured with Julia Conard of West Chicago, will lead her Saints into Friday's 7:30 p.m. IHSA Class 4A state semifinal against Benet at Redbird Arena in Normal. It will mark the teams' fourth meeting this season.