St. Ignatius, which won the GCAC Red Division title for the first time at the last tournament the league will sponsor, hopes to continue its winning ways Tuesday against Hinsdale Central at the Riverside-Brookfield sectional.
Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams
(Last week's ranking in parenthesis)
1. Benet 35-2 (1)
Benet coach Brad Baker probably did not sleep all weekend trying to figure out how his team is going to slow down West Aurora and Lauren Carlini in Tuesday's sectional semifinal at Neuqua Valley. The Redwings may want to try to get off to a better start than they did Thursday in a 25-18, 25-20 victory over Naperville Central. The Redwings fell behind 12-5 in Game One before using a 12-2 run to reverse the tide for keeps. Benet and West Aurora met earlier this season in the championship of the Benet invite with the Redwings hanging on for 28-26, 25-23 win.
2. Mother McAuley 33-4 (2)
The Mighty Macs bounced back from last week's loss to St. Ignatius in the finals of the final GCAC tournament to defeat T.F. North 25-9, 25-7 and Homewood-Flossmoor 25-13, 25-10 to win the Class 4A regional at Homewood-Flossmoor. Ryann DeJarld powered McAuley with 10 kills and Courtney Joyce dished out 23 assists. Next up? Sandburg in the 6:00 p.m. sectional semifinal Tuesday at Lincoln-Way Central. The last time these teams met, DeJarld lit up Sandburg for 12 kills in a 25-18, 25-16 victory at the Rich East tournament. The winner gets either Stagg or Lincoln-Way Central in the sectional final Thursday.
3. Marist 31-6 (3)
An unbeaten season in arguably the state's toughest conference. The championship of the 64-team NIKE Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz. Then... "One match does not dictate our entire season," Marist coach Natalie Holder said after her team's stunning 25-19, 23-25, 25-21 loss to No. 7 seed Lincoln-Way Central in the championship of the Class 4A regional at Lincoln-Way North. "No one, except maybe Assumption from Kentucky, played a schedule as ridiculously challenging as ours and with our success rate. Lincoln-Way Central played exemplary, scrappy volleyball." Marist will have some work to do next year. Libero Carolyn Yerkes is the only regular who returns.
4. Joliet Catholic 31-6 (4)
Providence extended Joliet Catholic in their regional final, but ultimately Morgan Reardon was just too much for the Celtics. The Loyola-bound senior ripped 17 kills to lead the Angels to a 25-19, 24-26, 25-16 victory and a berth in the Class 3A sectional at Glenbard South, where everyone anticipate a championship match between the Angels and long-time nemesis St. Francis. Reardon got help from Mallory Mangun (33 assists) and Julia Shemaitis (eight kills). Before reaching the finals, however, Joliet Catholic must turn back Nazareth Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. The Angels handled the Roadrunners easily in their first meeting, 25-13, 25-16, back on September 27.
5. New Trier 36-1 (5)
The Trevians 25-5, 25-3 win over (Chicago) Prosser in a regional semifinal was a stunner. How did Prosser score eight points? Maine South at least put up a fight in the regional finals, extending New Trier in a 25-14, 25-21 loss. It doesn't get too much harder in Tuesday's sectional semifinal at Niles North, although New Trier's opponent does have some familiarity with the floor. The Trevians then wrap up the week with a rematch against Mikayla Leyden, Jacque Kibir-Evans, Ashley Klauss and Trinity in Thursday's sectional finals and possibly Glenbard West in the supersectional Saturday at Niles West.
6. West Aurora 32-5 (6)
There was a brief time Thursday that the IHSA website had West Aurora losing the regional final at Waubonsie Valley. "I want confirmation," a disbelieving Benet coach Brad Baker said. Lauren Carlini and the Blackhawks did advance to face Benet at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday at Neuqua Valley, downing Waubonsie Valley 25-18, 25-17 behind seven kills, 14 assists and six digs from Carlini, eight kills by Peyton McKenzie and four kills from Kaitlyn Richter. Carlini had nine kills, five blocks and seven digs and West Aurora fought off five set points in Game One the first time these teams hooked up.
7. St. Francis 32-5 (7)
The Spartans moved another step closer to their annual (at least for the past 10 or so years) tournament meeting with Joliet Catholic by dispatching Mt. Assisi 25-6, 25-20 and Glenbard South 25-18, 25-21 in the Class 3A regional at Illinois Math and Science Academy. But first, St. Francis must get past the Lady Tigers from Herscher. Senior outside hitter Loryn Bruer led Herscher to a 25-19, 25-17 victory over Manteno in the Class 3A regional at Reed-Custer after the Tigers escaped Peotone 26-24, 25-22 in the regional semifinal.
8. Glenbard West 35-2 (8)
Twenty-seven years? That's how long it has been between regional titles for Glenbard West, which finally got its first state hardware since 1985 by defeating West Chicago 25-15, 25-10 on the Hilltoppers' home court. Next up for Caleigh Ryan, Amanda Perry, Meg DeMarr and Co.? St. Charles North (23-12), which got 11 kills from junior Taylor Krage and seven kills from Daley Krage to beat Glenbard North 25-22, 25-19 on the North Stars' home floor. The winner gets either Geneva or St. Charles East in the sectional finals at Elgin Larkin.
9. Libertyville 30-6 (9)
The Wildcats survived a monster 27-kill effort from 6-foot-1 middle blocker Layne Self to defeat Lake Zurich 21-25, 25-23, 25-23 in the finals of the Class 4A regional hosted by the Bears. Taylor Zant led the Wildcats with 10 kills, Rhiannon Prentiss had six kills and 14 digs, Alex Basler added four kills, Cindy Zhou had 24 assists, four kills and 14 digs, and Kristen Webb was credited with 36 digs and 4 assists. The victory avenged a season-ending loss to Lake Zurich in last year's regional finale. Next up? Mid-Suburban League champion Hersey at the Fremd sectional Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
10. Sandburg 29-8 (10)
The Eagles continue their late-season surge, winning their 15th straight match 25-9, 25-17 over Lincoln-Way East in the finals of the Class 4A regional at Eisenhower. Paige Bendell led the way with 11 assists, eight kills and six digs, Dakota Hampton added six kills and five digs, and sophomore setter Sami Knight added 11 assists and 10 digs. But the task gets infinitely tougher Tuesday when Sandburg takes on No. 2-ranked and sectional top seed Mother McAuley in the 6:00 p.m. sectional semifinal at Lincoln-Way Central. Awaiting the winner will be either Lincoln-Way Central or Stagg.
Others: Stevenson 34-3, Lincoln-Way Central 29-8, Naperville Central 28-9, Hinsdale South 30-7, Stagg 30-7, Marian Catholic 28-9, Naperville North 27-9, Prairie Ridge 26-9, St. Ignatius 28-9, Crystal Lake South 26-10, Providence 25-12, Hersey 32-5, Palatine 26-11, Richmond-Burton 28-1, Trinity 26-8, Nazareth 24-13, Chicago Christian 22-15, Lemont 25-12, St Charles East 25-12, Plainfield North 27-8, Oak Lawn 25-7.
Quote of the Year: "Where is the IHSA tonight? Why don't they go talk to the Naperville Central kids and explain to them how this is fair?" - Benet coach Brad Baker, moments after the Redwings defeated the Redhawks 25-18, 25-20 for the Class 4A regional title at Naperville Central. The Neuqua Valley sectional, of which the Central regional was a part, was realigned into four imbalanced regionals because of the inclusion of one school, Yorkville, which the IHSA insisted was geographically located "outside the Chicago box." Yorkville, by the way, did not win a single state tournament game, losing a feed-in quarterfinal to Oswego.
Did you know? Plainfield North (27-8) lost to both Naperville North (25-20, 21-25, 25-18) and Naperville Central (25-16, 25-20) during the regular season. But the Tigers were able to win their own regional (beating Oswego and Oswego East) and advance to the Neuqua Valley sectional because the IHSA realigned the sectional into four imbalanced regionals, forcing Naperville Central and Naperville North to meet in a regional semifinal at Central. Central was then eliminated by Benet. North also beat Lemont (25-12) at the Wheaton Classic (25-19, 25-16), but the Indians advanced to Neuqua by beating Plainfield Central and Lockport at Romeoville.
News flash: Bridgeport Red Hill snapped a losing streak that had grown to 203 matches October 6 by beating the host Hutsonville Tigers, 20-25, 25-19, 15-8 in the fifth-place match of the Hutsonville invitational. It was Red Hill's first win since Oct. 7, 2002 - a stretch of nine years, 364 days - when it earned a 7-15, 15-11, 15-12 victory at Grayville. Entering the season, the Salukis had not even won a set since Oct. 4, 2004.
The Quote II: "Can you imagine anything like this happening in football or basketball? It's just another example of the IHSA with different standards." - Benet coach Brad Baker talking about non-certified officials being used as line judges in a regional final.
The Quote III: "The kids work so hard to get to this point. We as coaches have been around for a while and we have been there before, but these kids work so hard and they just continue to get better as the season goes on. That they have to play them in a regional final, a second round of the playoffs, to me it's just not fair to the athletes." - Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson, whose team was denied a chance to be the top seed at its own regional by the IHSA.
I'll have what she's having: "We are hot right now and peaking at the right time." - Lincoln-Way Central coach Kathy Sulkowski, whose team got 12 kills from junior outside hitter Maria Brown, eight kills and 10 blocks from 6-foot-3 senior Amanda Dolan and 17 digs from senior libero Morgan Commet to defeat Marist 25-19, 23-25, 25-21 in the championship of the Class 4A regional Thursday at Lincoln-Way North.