By Pat Brozynski

Three Illinois juniors among top 50 in nation

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West Aurora's Lauren Carlini was recently named one of the top 50 junior recruits in the nation. recently released its list of the top 50 junior recruits in the country. The list includes several juniors from Illinois and others who are headed either to Big 10 schools or other major Midwest universities. The list was determined exclusively by a panel of college coaches.

Among the Top 50 Juniors (and the colleges to which they have committed) are these athletes from Illinois:

Lauren Carlini, 6-0 S/RS, West Aurora (Aurora, Illinois), Mizuno Sports Performance -- Wisconsin

Meghan McDowell, 6-1 S/MB, Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Illinois), Mizuno Sports Performance - Virginia

Cindy Zhou, 6-0 S, Libertyville (Illinois), Sky High -- Michigan

The athletes from outside Illinois who are committed to either Big 10 schools or other major Midwestern universities are:


Tori Blake, 6-2 MB, Midland (Michigan), MVA - Wisconsin

Abby Cole, 6-5 MB, Grand Haven (Michigan), MVA -- Michigan

Kira Larson, 6-3 MB, Fargo North (Fargo, North Dakota), Northwoods Black Ice - Nebraska


Ashley Evans, 6-1 S/MB, Lakota East (Liberty Township, Ohio), Cincy Classics -- Purdue

Kelly Hunter, 5-11 S/RS, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska), Nebraska Juniors -- Nebraska

Katie Schau, 5-9 S, Gull Lake (Richland, Michigan), DFFO - Minnesota


Kayla Morin, 5-10 OH, Portage Northern (Portage, Michigan), DFFO - Northwestern

Kylie Randall, 6-2 OH, Magnolia (Texas), Asics Willowbrook - Ohio State

Chloe Reinig, 6-4 OH, South Lyon (Michigan), Michigan Elite - Michigan State

Amber Rolfzen, 6-3 OH, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska), Nebraska Juniors - Nebraska

Kadie Rolfzen, 6-3 OH, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska) , Nebraska Juniors - Nebraska

Michelle Strizak, 6-0 OH, Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio), Team Z - Illinois

Sarah Wilhite, 5-11 OH, Eden Prairie (Minnesota), Northern Lights - Wisconsin also released a list of the Next 35 juniors who were just outside the top 50. Those athletes included:

Ciara Capezio, 6-2 OH, Burlington (Wisconsin), Club Fusion - Minnesota

Simmone Collins, 5-11 MB, Pine Creek (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Colorado Juniors - Notre Dame

Jazzmine McDonald, 6-2 MB, Cathedral HS (Indianapolis), Vision Volleyball Club - Indiana

Katie Roustio, 6-1 OH, O'Fallon (Illinois), HP St. Louis -- Illinois

Katie Stadick, 6-2 MB, Watertown (Wisconsin), Milwaukee Sting -- Illinois


The Illinois High School Volleyball Coaches Association will hold its Winter Coaches Clinic on Saturday, February 25. The clinic will be held at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive in Sugar Grove.

Speakers include: Bill Gleason of St Ambrose, 2011 NAIA Men's Finalist, Blocking-"Building a Wall;" and Pete Hanson of Ohio State, 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Champions, "Championship Drills From A Championship Coach."

Also, Pete Waite of the University of Wisconsin, "Get Into the Swing of Things;"
and Kevin Hambly, University of Illinois Women's Coach, 2011 NCAA Finalist and 2011 Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year, "Charting for Champions."

Register at


Former Cary-Grove star and current Indiana player Colleen Smith is fighting a rare autoimmune disease that sidelined her much of her freshman season and will keep her on the sidelines again next year, although the long-term prognosis is good.


Geneva senior Ashley Santos is likely out for the season with a torn ACL in her right knee. The Marquette recruit suffered the injury Saturday at the McDonald's Shootout in a game against Lincoln-Way East.

Santos was averaging 15 points per game for the Vikings, who had rebounded from consecutive losses at the Benet/Naperville North Christmas tournament. She had eight points Monday before going down in the first half.

Santos' younger sister, sophomore Sidney, has suffered ACL tears at the beginning of each of the last two seasons.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on January 14, 2012 8:25 AM.

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