Seven top seeds advanced to Saturday's Gold division of the Wheaton Classic by sweeping their pool lay matches Wednesday - Libertyville, Sandburg, Naperville North, Naperville Central, Benet, Marist and Hinsdale South.
Naperville Central (9-2) advanced by defeating St. Charles North 25-22, 20-25, 25-23, and Plainfield North 25-16, 25-20. Alysia Baznik led the Redhawks against the Stars with 10 kills, six digs and three aces. Kendall Ward and Sammi Condon each had six kills and Abbi Williamson had 27 assists.
"It's early," said Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson. "It's still September. We are tired. Everybody's tired. This is part of the endurance that you build for the whole season. We went to Effingham, we played Friday, we played Saturday, we came back and played yesterday and again today.
"Today (against St. Charles North) wasn't our best performance, but we found a way to get it done," she added.
Sandburg (5-1) rebounded from Monday's loss to Stagg to defeat Wheaton Warrenville South 25-18, 25-17 and Glenbrook South 25-13, 25-15.
"We like this tournament," Sandburg coach David Vales said. "We'll see Benet. We'll see Marist. We definitely consider this a measuring stick. This tournament will show us what we need to do, what we need to tighten up."
Second-seeded Benet (11-0) advance with a 25-18, 25-17 win over Neuqua Valley and a 25-14, 25-17 victory over Downers Grove South, and Naperville North (10-1) reached the Gold quarterfinals by defeating Rosary 25-14, 21-25, 25-16 and Plainfield Central 25-18, 25-17.
Libertyville (8-2) also advanced to the Gold bracket by beating Hinsdale Central 25-12, 25-18 behind five kills from Rhiannon Prentiss and two kills and three blocks from Taylor Zant, and a 25-16, 25-13 win over Wheaton North behind six kills from Julia Smagacz and 21 digs by Kristen Webb.
Also advancing were Marist and Hinsdale South. However, Lemont won Pool H by beating No. 8 seed Evanston 25-22,17-25, 25-23.
West Aurora's Lauren Carlini, a 6-foot-2 setter who is committed to Wisconsin, was named the No. 1 recruit in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com.
Each year, PrepVolleyball.com compiles a list of Senior Aces, the top 250 volleyball recruits in the country, according to a survey of nearly 100 college coaches.
"She does not have a single weakness on the court and her overall skill level is the highest I have seen in a junior player since Logan Tom in 1998," Sports Performance director Rick Butler said. "Not only is she an outstanding setter, but she is a great point scorer as both an attacker and a blocker and her defensive and serving skills are excellent."
Carlini set the USA Youth National Team in Turkey in 2011 and was also named the MVP of the USA High Performance Tournament in Tucson, Ariz. that same summer. Her Blackhawks are ranked No. 7 in the Sun-Times Girls Volleyball Top 10.
Also making the list at No. 33 was Palatine's Taylor Fricano, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter and Dayton recruit; and No. 41 Meghan McDowell, a 6-3 setter from Hinsdale Central who is committed to Virginia.
Making the list at No. 86 was St. Ignatius' 5-10 setter Sophia Dodd, who is committed to Wake Forest; and No. 91 Cindy Zhou, a 6-1 setter from Libertyville who will play for Michigan next fall.
Mackenzi Humm, a 5-11 setter from Prairie Ridge who is committed to Xavier, just missed making the top 100.
Making the list of top 250 "Senior Aces" from Illinois were Erienne Barry, a 6-foot setter from St. Charles East (Western Michigan), Megan Tallman, a 5-10 setter from Wauconda (Indiana) and Jessica Brezwyn, a 5-10 outside hitter from Hinsdale South (UNC Greensboro).
Also, Camille Evans, a 6-1 outside hitter from St. Ignatius (Connecticut), Morgan Reardon, a 6-0 outside from Joliet Catholic (Loyola-Chicago), and Katie Roustio, a 6-1 outside hitter from O'Fallon (Illinois).
Others included Mallory Salis, a 5-9 outside from Marist (Ohio), Kristen Webb, a 5-6 libero from Libertyville (Butler), Rachel Baader, a 5-11 outside from Stevenson (Penn), and Alysia Baznik, a 5-10 outside hitter from Naperville Central (Evansville).
Also, Dakota Hampton, a 6-1 outside from Sandburg (South Florida), Rachel Jones, a 6-1 middle blocker from Champaign Centennial (Bradley), and Jasmine King, a 6-2 middle blocker from Marian Catholic (Seton Hall).
Rounding out the list are Hanna Lee, a 6-1 middle blocker from Whitney Young (Wake Forest), and Emily Milligan, a 5-5 libero, from Nazareth Academy (North Dakota State).
Libertyville def. St. Ignatius 25-19, 25-20
Libertyville (6-2) defeated struggling St. Ignatius Monday in Chicago behind Julia Smagacz and Taylor Zant with seven kills apiece. Brooke Donovan's two aces keyed service runs that allowed the Wildcats to pull away in each set.
"Matches against teams like this will prepare us well for the Wheaton tournament and tough conference opponents in the coming weeks," Libertyville coach Greg Loika said.
Cindy Zhou had 17 assists and two blocks for the winners.
St. Ignatius fell to 8-3.
Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams
(Last week's ranking in parenthesis)
1. Marist 2-1 (1)
Some scheduling confusion led to the cancellation of a scheduled match at York Wednesday, so the RedHawks will have had a long layoff by the time they take on visiting Mother McAuley on Tuesday. Marist won two of three meetings between the two teams last year, including a 23-25, 25-16, 25-17 victory at the Andrew sectional. Later in the week, the RedHawks will try to defend their No. 1 seed at the 24-team Wheaton Classic, where they could get another shot at Hinsdale South.
2. Mother McAuley 4-0 (2)
The Mighty Macs cruised by Mt. Assisi last week, but things should certainly get tougher this week with a trip to Marist on Tuesday and a visit by St. Francis on Wednesday. One south suburban scribe admitted he might have underrated McAuley, but that's understandable given the team's youth. Those youngsters - including sophomores like Ryann DeJarld and Kelsey Clarke and juniors Courtney Joyce and Gabrielle Ennis - will have a chance to grow up fast this week.
3. Benet 8-0 (3)
The Redwings tune up for their title defense at the Wheaton Classic with a visit by a young Downers Grove North team on Monday. Wednesday in Wheaton Classic pool play, Benet will face a rematch with Neuqua Valley, a team it defeated 25-19, 25-18 last week behind Hannah Kaminsky's 30 assists and eight kills apiece by Cara Mattaliano, Nicki Barnes and Brittany Pavich. Also in Benet's pool is Downers Grove South. A certain assistant coach at Prairie Ridge Saturday called Benet the best team he's seen this year.
4. St. Francis 10-1 (4)
The Spartans are human after all. A 14-25, 25-11, 25-21 loss to Champaign Centennial in the semifinals of the Crossroads Classic at Effingham likely made for a long bus ride home late Saturday. St. Francis did bounce back to defeat Normal U-High 25-14, 24-26, 25-20 for third place. Earlier in the week, St. Francis opened its conference title defense with a 25-9, 25-12 pasting of Immaculate Conception behind six kills from Rebecca Shearer and a combined nine kills from Maddie and Molly Haggerty.
5. Sandburg 3-0 (5)
After another week off (has anybody had more time in the gym than the Eagles?), Sandburg's schedule finally heats up with a visit by Stagg on Monday and a trip to the Wheaton Classic Wednesday and Saturday. The Eagles are among the top four seeds at Wheaton and share a pool with the host Tigers and Glenbrook South. Should Dakota Hampton & Co. survive Wednesday's pool play, a semifinal match against defending champion Benet could be in the offing on Saturday. The winner could get Marist in the finals. The last time Sandburg and Marist met, the RedHawks prevailed 28-26, 26-24 in last year's sectional final.
6. Glenbard West 12-0 (6)
The Hilltoppers took care of business with a victory over Hinsdale Central last week. This week, Glenbard West will be busy with a long bus ride to Antioch on Monday, a trip to Oak Park-River Forest on Tuesday and the Glenbard West invitational Friday and Saturday. Caleigh Ryan, Meg DeMarr and Amanda Perry & Co. may not be tested until they participate in the Autumnfest tournament at Glenbard East in mid-October. Don't forget Tuesday, September 18, when Glenbard West visits Lyons.
7. West Aurora 12-1 (8)
Lauren Carlini had nine kills and 10 assists to lead the Blackhawks to a 25-22, 25-21 victory over Naperville Central in a DuPage Valley showdown that was moved to Aurora because of scheduling conflicts. Elli Martin added 11 assists for the Blackhawks. Despite the impressive start, the schedule gets tougher with a rematch with Naperville Central, two matches with Naperville North visits to the Glenbrook North invite and Autumnfest at Glenbard East in early October still looming. Could Benet be waiting at Autumnfest?
8. Naperville Central 6-2 (7)
The Redhawks dropped two matches last week against some pretty impressive competition, including a 25-22, 25-21 loss to DuPage Valley Conference rival West Aurora despite 11 kills and four digs from Alysia Baznik, six kills from Kendall Ward and 23 assists from Abbi Williamson. Saturday at Effingham, Naperville Central bounced back from a 20-25, 25-16, 25-20 quarterfinal loss to 3A power Normal U-High to defeat Edwardsville 25-15, 25-22 and finish fifth. Next up: Wednesday against St. Charles North and Plainfield North at the Wheaton Classic.
9. New Trier 12-0 (NR)
Will history repeat itself? Each of the last five winners of the Prairie Ridge round-robin invitational advanced to the finals of the state tournament, beginning with Naperville Central in 2007. After rallying from a 12-7 deficit in Game Three of its opener against Barrington, the Trevians rolled to wins against Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Central, Cary-Grove and St. Charles East. Six-foot junior setter Taylor Tashima has some weapons from which to choose including 5-11 senior outside Brittani Steinberg and 6-3 junior middle Haley Fauntleroy.
10. Stevenson 9-1 (9)
New Trier ended the Patriots' impressive winning streak to open the season with a 25-15, 26-24 victory despite six kills from 6-foot-1 senior middle hitter and Northern Illinois recruit Jenna Radtke and five kills from Lisa Pflugradt. Anne Geocaris added three kills, nine assists and seven digs in the loss. Earlier, the North Suburban Conference-leading Patriots defeated Zion-Benton 25-11, 25-10 behind three kills from Radtke and three aces from Alexa Bykowski. Stevenson visits Hersey Monday in a showdown between potential sectional foes.
Others: St. Ignatius, Joliet Catholic, Marian Catholic, Providence, Naperville North, Nazareth, Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Palatine, Cary-Grove, Hersey, Libertyville, Crystal Lake South, Hinsdale South, Lincoln-Way Central, Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, Marian Central, Chicago Christian, Immaculate Conception, Rosary, Stagg, Montini, Lemont, Carmel, Glenbard South, West Chicago.
Quote of the Week:
"The battles on this court have been have been going on for years. We love playing against each other. If we could practice against each other, we would do it. She (St. Charles East's Jennie Kull) runs such a quality program. The battles are always back and forth. It's fun." - Cary-Grove's Patty Langanis about the rivalry between Cary-Grove and St. Charles East on Court Two at Prairie Ridge.
"I would say everybody has stepped up. All the other players are really pushing for starting spots. We're still moving a lot of players around. We're still waiting for somebody to really play consistently and aggressively. We have flashes from everybody. Everybody's fighting for a spot. It's really competitive." - New Trier coach Hannah Hsieh about her team's 12-0 start.
"We do a lot of things well, we just don't do enough of them right now. We make a lot of unforced errors. We're not making simple choices, we're not making good choices all the time. We're working on that part of it." - Prairie Ridge coach Stefanie Otto on her team's 2-3 performance at their own round-robin invitational.
Milestone:Burlington Central's Marv Leavitt joined some exclusive company Saturday when he earned his 600th career victory as the Rockets finished second at the DeKalb tournament. Leavitt has been a head coach for 23 years at three different schools, including St. Charles, St. Edward and now Burlington Central. He won eight Upstate Eight titles, eight regionals and four sectionals at St. Charles, and five regionals and two sectionals at St. Edward. He led Burlington Central to a second-place finish in the 2008 Class 3A tournament.
Putting the "X" on the server:
Sometimes it doesn't take a timeout to ice an opposing server. Sometimes all it takes is a 10-minute "teaching moment" when an official decides to educate the home team's young scorekeeper on the intricacies of keeping the book while the server who just served two straight point to give her team a 24-22 lead has nothing to do but stand around and bounce the ball off a wall. Not surprisingly, when play finally resumed, the ensuing serve went wide and the home team rallied to win the set and the match. What? Like it couldn't wait until AFTER the set was over?
The top eight seeds at this year's Wheaton Classic are Marist, Benet, Sandburg, Hinsdale South, Libertyville, Naperville North, Naperville Central and Evanston, Play begins Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. at Wheaton North and Wheaton South high schools. The Gold Division finals will be held Saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m.