By Pat Brozynski

July 2012 Archives

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Maddie Haggerty (left) will have a major impact on St. Francis' quest of an eighth state title under longtime coach Peg Kopec this fall.


St. Francis would have dominated the medal stand - if they had one - Tuesday at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora.

St. Francis' No. 1 team, led by newcomer Maddie Haggerty, Michelle McLaughlin and setter McKenna Kelsay, rallied to defeat Jessica Brezwyn and Hinsdale South 19-25, 25-22, 15-12 to win the Gold bracket of the Tuesday Night Varsity league.

Meanwhile, a few courts down, freshman Molly Haggerty and sophomore Mary Boken were leading St. Francis' White team to a 25-20, 25-18 victory over a Glenbard West team minus its stellar setter Caleigh Ryan in the Silver bracket.

St. Francis coach Peg Kopec knows that with veterans like McLaughlin, Kelsay, defensive specialist Lexi Riccolo and Boken and the addition of the Haggerty sisters expectations will be running high in Wheaton this fall.

"Last year, we were able to fly under the radar," she said. "Nobody ranked us. It was awesome. This year, I feel bad for the kids. I've done this before, but I feel sorry for the kids. There's too much pressure, too many expectations.

"Do they have talent?" added Kopec, who could move within one state title of McAuley's Nancy Pederson (nine) on November 10. "Yes. You can't ignore that. We have some delightful players, and most people would be happy to have some of our delightful players."

But Kopec admitted that her players need a break before their first official practice August 8.

"I told them to take that time, those two weeks away, and make sure you're ready for school," she said. "I don't want them to go ski jumping or anything like that. But they need get time off...a lot of them. Not all of them, but a lot of them."

***

Any other year, Immaculate Conception would be looking at a bonafide opportunity to win a state championship.

But the IHSA has a funny sense of humor.

Led by the Martino sisters - Elizabeth and Kimberly - and defensive specialist Kathleen Ryan, middle hitter Rory Manion, senior outside hitter Emily Hartnett and junior outside hitter Delaney D'Amore, the Knights defeated Waubonsie Valley 25-19, 25-22 to finish an impressive third at the Tuesday Night Girls Varsity league at the Great Lakes Center.

Immaculate Conception defeated Neuqua Valley 25-23, 25-17 in the quarterfinals before falling to St. Francis 25-18, 25-16 in the semifinals. All of that might bode well for the Knights in other years. But not 2012.

The IHSA's new enrollment classification system in volleyball, which divided the state into four classes with an equal number of teams, propelled longtime Class 2A entry Immaculate Conception solidly into the clutches of Class 3A.

"Do you believe that?" said Immaculate Conception coach Jean Field. "The 3A bracket is what? 560 to 1411, something like that? And the one below us is 250 to 560? How does that make sense?

"We have what, maybe 175 girls, tops?" she added. "They want us to play against teams that have five times as many girls as we do? I understand it's 25, 25, 25, 25. But is that really what's best for the sport?

Meanwhile, IC might have to be content with having its best team since the 1993 team that reached the state quarterfinals.

"Yes, this is probably the best team we've had in a while," Field said. "We do have a nice team. They're scrappy and they're good. We could use a couple of six-foot middles. The kids who are playing middle are doing a nice job for us, but they're not middles.

"Last year, we had middles, but what can you do?" she added. "That's the way volleyball is...you never know from one year to the next. I think we'll do OK in conference (IC got moved up there, too). At least we'll give everybody a run for the money."

But the bad news for area schools did not end at IC. Joining the Knights in the suddenly loaded 3A field are former 2A foes Timothy Christian and Chicago Christian. Conference rival Rosary was pushed into Class 4A, as was 2011 3A semifinalist Marian Catholic.

"It's disappointing," Field said. "You get a good team, but you never know with the IHSA is going to do. You just wonder what's going on. You'd like to see what's best for the sport, but is this it?"

***

Former Downers Grove South star and Purdue standout Anne Mastandrea (right).

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With graduation taking a toll at York, Lyons, Downers Grove North and Hinsdale Central, don't be surprised if Glenbard West emerges as the top team in the West Suburban Conference in 2012.

Coach Pete Mastandrea returns five of his top players from last year's regional finalist - 5-10 senior setter Caleigh Ryan, 5-4 defensive specialist Julie Waggoner, 5-10 senior outside Megan Wagner, 5-10 junior middle Katie Ball and 5-11 senior outside Amanda Perry.

Ryan, who is attending a setter camp in California, missed Glenbard West's loss Tuesday to St. Francis in the Silver bracket final at Great Lakes. The veteran distributor, who also attended a setter camp at Northwestern earlier this summer, should rank as one of the top players in the Chicago area this fall.

"I'm pretty optimistic," Mastandrea said. "We'll have an athletic team, we'll play good defense and we're going to be side-out team again. We'll be a mirror image of last year. We're the kind of that team that can be dangerous."

Meanwhile, Mastandrea could be dangerous around family and friends while waiting for the start of practice August 8.

"There are the worst two weeks of the summer," he said. "I want it to be August 8 in the worst way."

Hopefully, Mastandrea's daughter, Anne, who helped lead Downers Grove South to a state title in 2002 before enjoying a stellar career at Purdue, will provide a calming effect on the Glenbard West bench this season.

Anne will serve as an assistant while working as a teacher's aide at Glenbard West and pursuing a master's degree in education at Lewis University.

"Anne does a nice job with the kids," the elder Mastandrea said. "She has good insight into the game."

pavich.jpgBenet junior-to-be Brittany Pavich recently made a verbal commitment to play at Boston College.


According to the club's home page, "Michio" is a Japanese word meaning a person with the strength of 3,000.

Michio Chicago 15 National did not need the strength of 3,000 at the USAV Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month. Ten players were enough.

Michio Chicago 15 National, representing a four-year-old club on the south side of Chicago, defeated the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 overall seeds then took down surprising Five Starz 25-19, 25-10 in the finals to win the USAV 15 Open championship.

"Our consistency and control were the biggest keys to our success at the championships," said Michio coach and former Brother Rice standout Jordan Vidovic. "We are a very even keeled team and it paid off in a long, four-day tournament where you can really go up and down mentally and emotionally every match.

"Our focus was to grind every point of every game out and make it tough for our opponents to earn points on us," he added. "You hear it all the time but it was truly a team effort. We focus on being all-around players in practice and it really paid off as we were able to adjust and adapt to different teams and different styles of play."

In the final, Michio grabbed a quick 2-0 lead thanks to kills from 5-foot-7 outside hitter Kennedy Arundel (Mother McAuley), who was named the tournament MVP, and 6-foot-2 middle blocker Kristen Somerville from St. Ignatius.

Five Starz scored the next two points, but when Margaret Scanlon took an Amber Casey set on the next point and terminated on the right side, Michio had the lead for keeps. Somerville and 6-foot Kelsey Clark scored in the middle to extend Michio's lead to 9-5.

Arundel, Ryann Dejarld (daughter of McAuley coach Jen Dejarld) and Maggie Scanlon (McAuley) took advantage of the dominant middle play of Somerville and Clark to wreak havoc from the pins, and Five Starz went quietly in Game 2.

Clark and Scanlon joined Arundel on the all-tournament team. But it would not have been a stretch to add a few more Michio players to the All-America team

"Almost every one of our players would have been deserving of All-American honors," Vidovic said. "Kennedy came up huge in big situations on the outside with her power and athleticism. Kristin and Kelsey are our go to hitters who control the net as blockers as well. They are, in my opinion, the best middle tandem in the country and were a huge part of our success.

"Amber distributed the offense very effectively while libero Carla Cahill was nearly flawless on serve receive and great on defense," he added. "Maggie and Ryann were consistent all around and effective front and back row. Ali Lund (from Lemont) came up big from the service line in key situations."

Rounding out the 10-player roster was Morgan Mikenas, a rightside hitter from Valparaiso High School in Indiana.

"Columbus was quite a week for our team and for our new club," said Vidovic, who graduated from Lewis two years ago and has been working in the city and coaching college in the interim. "We knew going in that we were playing well enough to have a legitimate shot at making the final four.

"We trained hard the last month of the season to make sure we were ready to go at nationals," he added. "We knew it was going to be an absolute war for four days and that we needed to be mentally tough to stay in it. Our team really stuck together for the entire tournament and it was great to see it end the way it did."

Michio Chicago 15 National reached the finals four by downing Coast 15-1 from southern California, then dumped Texas Advantage Volleyball 15 Black in three sets in the semifinals to avenge a loss earlier this season at the Lone Star Qualifier in Dallas.

"That TAV match was probably the toughest of them all," Vidovic said. "We went back and forth all three sets and were able to pull away late in the third to take the match. We knew since December that we had the ability to be national champions.

"We had some bumps along the way, but we prepared well and stayed focused on our gameplans all week in Columbus," he added.

***

Brittany Pavich, a junior-to-be at Benet Academy from Hinsdale, verbally committed to play Division I volleyball for Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Pavich is a 6-foot-3 middle hitter who plays for Sports Performance VBC.

"I really loved the combination of academics and volleyball at Boston College," Pavich said. "I knew it was a good fit for me when I visited the campus and met the coaches and the team. I am looking forward to joining them in 2014."

Pavich was an integral part of Benet's run to the Class 4A state championship last fall when she stepped in for the injured Gabbie Pethokoukis.

"Brittany has worked very hard to become one of the best middles in the state," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "Always a great teammate, Brittany continues to improve and has a tremendous upside as a player. I expect her to be difference-maker when she gets to Boston College."

Pavich's Sports Performance club team recently finished fifth in the 16 Open division of the AAU National Championships. Benet alumna Val Mattaliano (Class of 2008) is currently playing at Boston College.


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Downers Grove North's JP Tulacka and his Sports Performance 18 Mizuno teammates finished fifth at the USAV Junior Nationals in Dallas, Texas last week


The Sports Performance 18 Mizuno boys team looked unbeatable through its first eight matches at last week's USAV Junior Boys National Championships in Dallas, Texas.

But one loss, to MVVC (Mountain View Volleyball Club out of California) Red 18-1 in the Gold quarterfinals, was all it took to send SPVB packing.

Sports Performance 18 Mizuno finished in fifth place with an 8-1 record.

"The boys made a great run at the championship," SPVB coach Bryan Johnwick said. "Each day our goal was to improve our seed by winning each pool. They achieved that goal each of the first three days with us moving from the 10th seed to the fourth seed.

"In the quarterfinals, we played a very physical Mountain View team that just outplayed us at the service line and on defense," the coach added. "I am so proud of these guys because the time and effort they put in during the past three to seven years to be the best that they can be."

SPVB team members included Matt Callaway, Matt Finder, Chris George, Matt Guerrieri, Okello Hope, Thomas Jaeschke, Alex Kahn, Gert Lisha, Wesley Morioka, Zack Parik, Tim Shenkin, JP Tulacka and Tim Zyburt,

Jaeschke was selected to 18 Open all-tournament team.

Ultimate B18 Gold also reached the Gold division quarterfinals, bouncing back from a loss to Balboa Bay 18 Hurley. But the south suburban representatives were ousted by eventual runner-up SCVC (Southern California Volleyball Club) 18 Quicksilver 28-26, 21-25, 16-14.

Ultimate team members included Sam Balaskas, Branden Clemens, David Demarco, Scott Fifer, Paul Novosyolov, Robert Renaud, Martin Ross, Nathan Royer, Spencer Sauter and Robert Walsh.

Ross was selected to 18 Open all-tournament team.

"I was kind of surprised, but also honored to be named to the all-tournament team," said Ross, who was also recently named one of the top 50 players in the nation. "The tournament is always fun. It was a real good experience.

"But it was also bittersweet after losing our first match on the final day," added the former Providence star and University of the Pacific recruit. "Being name all-tournament made me feel a little better."

WA (West Allis, Wis.) Lighting B18 won the national championship, defeating SCVC 18 Quicksilver 25-27, 25-22, 15-10.

In the 18 Club Division, Adversity's Scott Adamczyk was named to the all-tournament team.

In the 17 Open division, Ultimate B17 finished fourth and Adversity 17 Purple finished fifth. Ultimate lost to Balboa Bay 17 Hurley 25-21, 25-17 in the semifinals and Adversity 17 Purple lost to 949 17 Black 25-17, 25-16 in the quarterfinals.

Members of Ultimate B17 included Nick Bendell, Marc Hansen, Owen Haupt, Mike Scannell, Haakon Skrodal, Nick Timreck, Jacob Walenga, Mitchel Weiler and John Yerkes.

Members of Adversity 17 Purple included Dustin Borenstein, Michael Gajos, Vuk Jakovljevic, Will Kozloski, Brett Lerner, Mason Majszak, Jonah May, Bradley Tiller, Matt Wascher, Kevin Xu, Aaron Zalewski and Carlos Zambrano.

In the 16 Open division, Sports Performance 16 Mizuno reached the Gold quarterfinals before losing to eventual national runner-up Balboa Bay 16 Hurley 25-18, 25-17.

Members of SPVB 16 Mizono included Michael Gulczynski, Jeffrey Jendryk, Marko Kostich, Timothy Lambert, Nathan Marotta, Garrett Metzger, Jordan Pawlicki, Michael Simmons, Robert Smith and Jared Wilcox.

Simmons was selected to the all-tournament team.

***

Former Providence star and University of the Pacific recruit Marty Ross was one of six Illinois players named to Volleyball magazine's Fab 50, which honors the top 50 senior boys' youth talents in the United States.

Joining Ross on the Fab 50 were Matt Callaway (Wheaton Warrenville South/Penn State), Thomas Jaeschke (WW South/Loyola), Tommy Leonard (Barrington/USC), Zack Parik (Downers Grove North/Penn State) and Bobby Walsh (Mt. Carmel/Lewis).

Four Illinois underclassmen broke into Volleyball magazine's "30 Underclassmen to Watch" list, including Glenbard East's 6-6 junior Joey Farrell, Payton's 6-3 sophomore Earl Schultz, Providence's 6-6 junior Brendan Surane and Lincoln-Way North's 5-11 sophomore Jake Walenga.

***

Payton's 6-3 sophomore Earl Schultz had nine kills, six blocks and an ace to lead the U.S. Boys' Youth National Volleyball Team past Puerto Rico, 22-25, 25-19, 25-11, 26-28, 15-7, in the bronze-medal match of the NORCECA Boys' Youth Continental Championship on July 7 in Tijuana, Mexico.

The U.S. boys finished the tournament 4-2. The NORCECA Boys' Youth Continental Championship automatically qualifies its top two teams into the 2013 FIVB Boys' Youth World Championship in Mexico, but it is expected the United States will also advance as the third-place team due to Mexico hosting and being one of the two NORCECA top teams playing the gold-medal match.

Brother Rice's 6-7 junior Ryan Paull is also a member of the team.

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Marian Central Catholic's Abby Gilleland helped lead Sky High 18 Black to a second-place finish at the USAV Girls Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

Sky High 18 Black, which won the AAU 17 Open title last year, fought its way back from early losses to A5 Mizuno and top-seeded Front Range but fell short in its quest to win the USAV title Sunday in Columbus, Ohio, losing to Tampa Bay 18 Black, 25-17, 25-19, in the finals.

Sky High reached the championship by taking down TAV Advantage in the quarterfinals, 25-15, 22-25, 15-9. Middle blocker Ashley Rosch, outside hitter Melanie Jereb, rightside Mary Streidl, setter Abby Gilleland and libero Amy Dion had huge games for Sky High.

Sky High led start to finish in Game 1 and was never threatened, but TAV pulled out a win in Game 2 as setter Tanna Aljoe distributed the ball among middle blocker Shelby Sullivan, lefty rightside Liz Fortado and outsides Jennifer Allen and Emily Ehrle.

Game 3 was tied at 8-8 after back-to-back kills by Ehrle and Allen, but a serving error gave the ball to Sky High. Dion then served three tough serves, which Sky High converted into easy points, including a Rosch kill, to take a 12-8 lead.

Dion's next serve produced an overpass, but TAV libero Caitlin Nolan dug up a kill attempt by Sky High and the ball fell over the net to make it 12-9. But Rosch and Striedl went back-to-back to give Sky High match point. A TAV error ended the match.

Sky High then took down Vision Gold 18-1 in the semifinals, 25-23, 19-25, 15-12, but the girls from Crystal Lake ran out of steam in the finals.

Sky High's route to the finals might not have been as difficult had not a fluke play cost them the match against Front Range. With Front Range leading 15-14, Rosch's kill attempt caromed off of the Front Range block and headed high and wide of the court.

But before it could land on the adjacent court, the ball struck a convention center light, located just inside the sport court surface. It bounced back towards the Front Range front row, was alertly dug and then transitioned into the corner over the stunned Sky High defense.

Members of USAV 18 Open division runner-ups included Chicago Sun-Times all-area selections Amelia Anderson and Abby Gilleland, Samantha Boesch, Samantha Boehne, Amy Dion, Melanie Jereb, Amanda Orchard, Ashley Rosch, Mary Streidl and Daiva Wise.

***

Despite two early losses, 1st Alliance 18 Silver was in contention in the Gold division until a 19-25, 25-21, 15-10 loss to Front Range in a challenge match knocked them into the Silver, where they lost to AJV 18 Mizuno 21-25, 25-23, 15-11 in the finals to finish 6-5.

1st Alliance team members included Brittany Brown, Casey Harris, Jenna Jacobson, Melissa Nava, Bridget Powell, Megan Miller, Caroline Rose, Jessica Tulacka, Laura Williams, Lauren Zielinski and Sun-Times Player of the Year Alexis Viliunas.

***

Uno 18 Elite competed in the 18 American division in Columbus and won its first six matches before losses to Xceleration Blue and City Beach knocked them into the Silver division.

Uno finished third in the Silver division after losing to Absolute Black 18-1 25-17, 25-18 in the semifinals.

Team members included Haley Bowden, Kelly Feigh, Kendall Korte, Briana Marquez, Stacey Perinar, Shelby Ritsema, Lauren Robertson, Ashley Sisk and Marissa Villarrubia.

***
After two days of play in the 17 Open division at the USAV Junior Nationals, 1st Alliance 17 Silver stands at 4-2 and Sky High 17 Black is 3-3.

Middle hitters Hanna Lee and Ana Vrhel helped 1st Alliance, the AAU 16 Open national champions last year, to a quick 3-0 after one day before the girls from Western Springs ran into trouble on Day Two, losing to OVA 17 Asics and Northern lights in straight sets

In the 16 Open, Ultimate G16 Gold is 2-1 after one round and 1st Alliance 16 Silver is 0-3.

In the 15 Open division, Lions 15-1 is 5-3 heading into play Thursday.

***
Chuck Aiello, brother of Lake Zurich girls coach and Buffalo Grove boys coach Matt Aiello, led Sky High 17 Red team to the national title of the 18 Club division at AAUs last week in Orlando, Fla.

Matt Aiello had mixed feelings about Red's 27-29, 25-23, 15-12 victory over Sky High 18 White in the finals.

"(Chuck) actually had to beat one of my Lake Zurich players to win the title match," Matt Aiello said.

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