Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams
(Last week's ranking in parenthesis)
1. Benet 31-2 (3)
45-0. That's Benet's record in regular-season tournaments since losing to Joliet Catholic in the finals of the Mizuno Scholastic Cup tournament in 2010. Saturday at Glenbard East, the Redwings won their fourth tournament of 2012 with a 26-24, 25-16 victory over previously top-ranked Mother McAuley. Five-foot-10 senior outside hitter Nicki Barnes, who would have trouble walking into a strong wind, led the way with nine kills including the one that gave Benet set point at 25-24 in Game 1 after the Redwings trailed 20-17. But it was unheralded Abby Willett who finished the match with a kill in Game 2.
2. Mother McAuley 26-3 (1)
The Mighty Macs flashed both their potential and their youth in Saturday's final of Autumnfest against Benet. "I thought the girls a wonderful job in Game 1, we just couldn't get in synch in Game 2 and lost the momentum we had in Game 1," coach Jen DeJarld said. "I didn't think we made smart choices with where we were spreading the ball out to." Ryann DeJarld had four kills and an ace, Kelly Clark had three kills and a block and Kelsey Clark added three kills and two blocks in defeat. McAuley wraps up the regular season against Lyons on October 17 followed by its annual ceremonial crowning at the GCAC tournament.
3. Marist 23-5 (2)
Why No. 3? Marist has splitting a pair of matches with Benet and is 1-2 against McAuley. The RedHawks are likely to see McAuley one more time in the state tournament. Last week, Marist held off Joliet Catholic 29-27, 25-19 to improve to 8-0 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference behind Mallory Salis' 13 kills, Elyse Panick's eight kills and seven digs, and Carolyn Yerkes' eight digs. Tuesday, Marist hosts Carmel in its ESCC finale before closing out the regular season with a trip to Arizona for the Nike Tournament of Champions October 19-21.
4. Joliet Catholic 27-6 (4)
How do you explain the nightmare that was Game 2 of a 21-25, 25-5, 25-19 loss to Benet in the semifinals of Autumnfest? You don't. Nevertheless, Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe found a bright side. "We didn't go to three games with them last time we played," she said. "We were much more competitive this time, and to take a team like Benet to three games, I'm happy with that." The Angels did bounce back to beat West Aurora 16-25, 25-19, 25-23 for third place. Earlier in the week, Morgan Reardon had 13 kills and Mallory Mangun had 23 assists in the loss to Marist.
5. New Trier 27-0 (6)
New Trier continues to run roughshod over the Central Suburban League with easy wins over Glenbrook South and Maine South last week. The Trevians host Evanston on Tuesday and travel to Niles West on Thursday before competing in the Lyons tournament next weekend. New Trier figures to have an easy road in the state tournament as well with only Trinity, a team they crushed 25-11, 25-21 earlier in the season, standing between them and berth in the Niles West supersectional.
6. West Aurora 28-5 (7)
The Blackhawks scored the last seven points of the match to beat Naperville Central 19-25, 25-23, 25-23 in the quarterfinals of Autumnfest, but dropped their last two matches to Mother McAuley (25-19, 25-17) and Joliet Catholic (16-25, 25-19, 25-23) on getaway day for the big Homecoming dance. "It's disappointing (the loss to JCA)," West Aurora standout Lauren Carlini said. "We were flat the last two games." The Blackhawks maintained a share of first place in the DuPage Valley Conference with a 12-25, 25-19, 25-12 win over Naperville North earlier in the week.
7. St. Francis 26-5 (8)
The Spartans are spending a lot of time in the practice gym getting ready for the state tournament while their regular-season schedule crawls to a close. Last week, St. Francis had just one match, a 25-20, 25-19 win over Marian Central. This week, the Spartans close out the regular season with home dates with Aurora Central Catholic on Monday and Chicago Christian on Wednesday. Looking ahead? The Spartans were represented Saturday at Autumnfest at Glenbard East. An innocent coincidence, or a chance to get a closer look at Joliet Catholic.
8. Libertyville 24-5 (9)
Earlier in the week, the Wildcats clinched the North Suburban Lake title with a 25-15, 26-24 win over Lake Forest behind Brooke Donovan's nine digs and two aces and Kristen Webb's 19 digs. But Libertyville ran into a little trouble at Pumpkinfest, falling to Sandburg 25-22, 25-23 in the final after taking down top-seeded Stagg, 25-19, 22-25, 25-12 in the semifinals. At least head coach Greg Loika couldn't be faulted. He was attending his brother's wedding in Iowa. Cindy Zhou had 89 assists and 25 kills in five tournament games, while Julie Smagacz had 37 kills. Libertyville hosts Lakes in the NSC title match Wednesday before hosting the Crosstown Classic next weekend.
9. Naperville Central 25-7 (10)
Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson watched in horror as her team completely fell apart after building a 23-18 lead against West Aurora in the quarterfinals of the Autumnfest tournament Saturday at Glenbard East. "I thought we played a good first game, a good second game and I thought we played well the first 20 points of the third game," she said. "But the confusion and lack of confidence that took place on our side for last five points, that was disheartening." Isaacson could take some solace in her team's wins over Prairie Ridge and Glenbard West to end the day.
10. (tie) Glenbard West 32-2 (5)
A mixed bag for the Hilltoppers, who beat Silver division foes Downers Grove North and Addison Trail to win their first outright West Suburban Conference title since 1984, then dropped two of three Saturday at Autumnfest including a 25-11, 25-17 loss to Joliet Catholic to watch their 31-match win streak come to an end. "So our 31-game winning streak is over, big deal," said coach Pete Mastandrea. "That doesn't matter when you're 0-0 in the first round of the playoffs. That's the perspective we talk about. We wanted to be stretched (Saturday)."
10. (tie) Lincoln-Way Central 26-7 (10)
The Knights bounced back from a 25-23, 22-25, 25-21 loss to Lockport (Aubrey Ficek had 13 kills and 14 digs to lead the Porters) to defeat Lincoln-Way East 25-23, 25-21 in league play and downstate powerhouse Champaign Centennial 31-29, 23-25, 25-16 in the finals of the Autumn Knight tournament. Jacqueline Langer had a monster game against LW East with 14 kills while Amanda Dolan added seven kills and nine blocks. Wednesday, Lincoln-Way Central gets another tough test when they travel to Orland Park to take on Pumpkin tournament champion Sandburg, which has won 11 in a row.
Others: Sandburg, Marian Catholic, Hinsdale South, Stevenson, Stagg, Naperville North, Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake South, Providence, Hersey, Palatine, Richmond-Burton, Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Trinity, Nazareth, Fremd, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, St. Ignatius, Rosary, Chicago Christian, Immaculate Conception, Lemont, DeLaSalle, Glenbard South, Timothy Christian, St Charles East, Cary-Grove.
Quote of the Week: "I'm just constantly looking for a seam. I have no false thoughts. I know I'm not tall enough to pound through a block or can hit hard enough to pound over block. I'm always looking for seams or tipping in a hole somewhere. I just constantly rely on Hannah (Kaminsky). She does a good job of getting the ball out there fast so I can beat the blockers." - Benet's 5-foot-10 slightly-built senior outside hitter Nicky Barnes, who had nine kills to lead the Redwings to their 26-24, 25-16 victory over Mother McAuley at Autumnfest on Saturday.
Right here, right now: "What we've done in the past doesn't matter. It's just the match in front of us, the point in front of us, that's all we're worried about. At the end of the season we can sit back and think about things we've accomplished, but right now were just trying to win the next point. Realistically, that's all we're trying to do." - Benet coach Brad Baker, whose teams have won 45 consecutive regular-season tournament matches and nine consecutive tournament titles since 2010.
We're going to need a bigger broom: "We had a great beginning and we had a great finish. It was just that middle section where we struggled and we couldn't get any offense. It just spiraled from there. When we did get a good pass, we would just hit the ball out of bounds. I don't know how many hitting errors we had. It was on us. We need to minimize the mistakes we were making on our side of the net." - Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe, whose team lost Game 2 of its Autumnfest semifinal against Benet 25-5.
Learn by doing: "We wanted to know what it takes to beat teams like these. We don't know how yet. But we wanted to be tested and hopefully we will learn. We came in knowing that this was insignificant in our season. The girls understand they still have a ceiling that they can attain. These are games that we will watch and learn from. There have been other games we don't want to watch that we were able to get away with some things that we did." - Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea, whose team lost to Joliet Catholic and Naperville Central Saturday at Autumnfest but still is favored to reach the Niles West supersectional against New Trier.
Autumnfest all-tournament team: Named to the all-tournament team at Autumnfest hosted by Glenbard East on Saturday were Anna Ponterelli (Loyola), Rachel Durchholz (Mt. Pulaski), Morgan Reardon (Joliet Catholic), Krista Brakauskas (Providence), Carly Nolan (Crystal Lake South), Caleigh Ryan (Glenbard West), Lauren Carlini (West Aurora), Alysia Baznik (Naperville Central), Rachel Minarick (Waubonsie Valley), Victoria Quintanilla (Hononegah), Mackenzie Humm (Prairie Ridge), Kelsey Clark (Mother McAuley), Carla Cahill (Mother McAuley), Cara Mattaliano (Benet) and tournament MVP Sheila Doyle (Benet).
Hot, hot, hot: Sandburg (25-8), winner of 11 in a row, won the Maine West Pumpkin Tournament defeating Lyons (25-14 25-13) and Maine West (25-7 25-10) in pool play Friday night, and then Lake Zurich (25-15 22-25 28-26), Evanston (23-25, 25-19 25-15) and Libertyville (25-23 25-22) in the championship match. Dakota Hampton had 40 kills on Saturday and Paige Bendell had 35 kills and 45 assists.
Record-breaking Raiders: Bolingbrook won last weekend's Minooka tournament to improve to 20-11-1 and set a school record for wins in a season, eclipsing the mark of 17 victories set in 1982. Bolingbrook defeated Joliet West (25-19, 29-27), Normal Community West (28-26, 16-25, 25-18), Minooka (28-26, 25-20) and St. Charles North (25-18, 25-16) to claim its second tournament title in as many weeks (the Raiders won the United Township Tournament in East Moline on October 5-6). Senior outside hitter Ciara Hill led Bolingbrook with 50 kills in the tournament, junior outside Krissa Gearing had 24 kills and 35 digs, and Marisa Markus contributed 64 assists. Alexa Piekarski added nine kills against Joliet West while Hill had 13 kills against both Normal West and Minooka.