By Pat Brozynski

IHSA sticks it to girls at Neuqua Valley sectional

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Imagine if the IHSA decided to dump Lincoln-Way East, Glenbard West, Maine South and Loyola in the same four-team bracket in the 32-team Class 8A football field.

The uproar would be deafening. Lawyers would be crawling out of the drywall. Fans would write thousands of vitriolic emails directed at IHSA administrators.

Of course, that's not going to happen. It only happens in girls sports. Like volleyball. Because despite Title IX and despite professing to care about kids, the IHSA just doesn't.

Look at what happened to the Class 4A girls sectional at Neuqua Valley. A few days ago, it was 23-team sectional waiting to be seeded by coaches. Then magically, mysteriously, the IHSA decided to take seeding out of the equation, capriciously assigning schools to four ridiculously unbalanced regionals.

Now, the IHSA has done this before where the geography is a little out of hand, particularly in the smaller school classes where teams may be 30, 40, 50 miles or more removed from their nearest competitor.

But it's not like Naperville is that far from Aurora, is it? Or Oswego? Or Downers Grove?

But apparently, the IHSA must feel that it's just too much to ask kids in Downers Grove to ride a bus to Plainfield for a regional. More likely, the IHSA just doesn't care.

Who gets punished? Why of course, the girls. The girls who work hard all year to have a chance at winning something as simple as a regional championship. The girls who only want the same fair chance that the boys get in football.

Well girls, that ain't gonna happen.

Here are the "revised" regional assignments for the Neuqua Valley sectional. Three of the teams that would have been likely to get a top four seed are in the same six-team regional. Only West Aurora managed to avoid getting s____ed by the IHSA.

The Plainfield North Regional now features Oswego East, Oswego, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Yorkville. Bolingbrook, Lemont, Lockport. Plainfield Central. Plainfield South and Romeoville are at Romeoville. Aurora East, Metea Valley, Rosary and West Aurora join the hosts at Waubonsie Valley.

That leaves Downers Grove North, Downers Grove South, Benet, Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North in one regional at Central. Three of the top four teams in the sectional - Benet, Central and Naperville North - in one six-team regional.

The IHSA claims the move was necessary to accommodate Yorkville, which was bumped up to 4A by the IHSA's new 25-25-25-25 enrollment split when assigning schools to certain sports. The IHSA says that Yorkville is not located in the "Chicagoland Box."

That must be news to the folks in Yorkville. After all, football teams in its conference, the Northern Illinois Big 12 (East), play teams like (Chicago) Brooks, (Oak Lawn) Richards, (Chicago) Corliss, (New Lenox) Lincoln-Way West, (Chicago) North Lawndale and Aurora East for nonconference games.

Must be overnight trips.

And Yorkville itself hosted a volleyball tournament in September. Among the participants? Plainfield South, Lisle, Plainfield North, Oswego and Joliet West.

How were those hotel rooms, girls? Surely, Yorkville is too far to travel to and from in one day!

Now imagine if the IHSA had done something like this in football? They don't. No. 16 seed Belleville East still made the trip to No. 1 Waubonsie Valley last year. Imagine if the IHSA does this in boys basketball? Can you imagine the uproar if Metea Valley, Waubonsie Valley, East Aurora and West Aurora are assigned to one regional in boys basketball?

Don't worry. The IHSA won't do that in boys basketball. They wouldn't. Don't be surprised to find Yorkville back in "the box" for boys basketball. Besides, that's not a girls sport. Girls? They just don't care.

It's not that they don't want girls to ride the bus. They would just prefer to throw them under it.

Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams
(Last week's ranking in parenthesis)

1. Mother McAuley 17-2 (3)

The Mighty Macs handled Marist 25-15, 25-16 in the third of a possible four meetings this season in Saturday's third-place match of the Asics Challenge. Junior setter Courtney Joyce had 20 assists, most of them to Kelsey Clark (eight kills), Kennedy Arundel (six kills) and Ryann DeJarld (five kills). The Mighty Macs beat Pius XI 31-29, 25-18 in the quarterfinals and lost to Notre Dame (Kentucky) in the semifinals 25-20, 17-25, 25-14. The Mighty Macs won't be challenged again until the Autumnfest tournament at Glenbard East on October 12-13.

2. Marist 18-5 (2)

Marist showed its mettle by pushing Kentucky powerhouse (Louisville) Assumption in a Gold semifinal at the Asics Challenge. Marist took a 16-11 lead in Game One, then after falling behind 18-11 and 23-15 in Game Two, rallied to within 24-23 before the eventual champions put the match away. Earlier in the day, Marist defeated No. 5 seed St. Francis 22-25, 25-13, 25-15. Despite the loss to McAuley, it was a solid week for the RedHawks who held on to beat visiting Benet 25-20, 23-25, 25-22 on Thursday behind Mallory Salis' 16 kills.

3. Benet 17-2 (1)

Brittany Pavich had nine kills and sophomore Natalie Canulli added four as Benet snapped its two-game losing streak by defeating Batavia 25-16, 25-20 on Friday. Benet also welcomed back Brittany Kmieciak, the Redwings' second-best backrow passer, who was sorely missed in losses to Marian Catholic and Marist. Her absence hampered Benet's ability to run its quick offense. Benet coach Brad Baker said the Redwings were "one play away" from changing the outcome of its three-set loss at Marist Thursday, in which Cara Mattaliano had 12 kills and three blocks.

4. Joliet Catholic 17-2 (8)

The Angels strengthened their claim as the best Class 3A team north of Champaign with a 25-17, 23-25, 25-17 victory over St. Francis in a Gold division consolation semifinal at the Asics Challenge. Morgan Reardon led Joliet Catholic with 25 kills. Julia Shemaitis added 13 kills and Mallory Mangun had 36 assists. The Angels host Benet on Thursday, then join Benet and Hinsdale South at the Mizuno Cup tournament hosted by St. Charles East Friday and Saturday at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.

5. Glenbard West 24-0 (5)

The Hilltoppers cruised to three easy conference wins last week including a 25-12, 25-8 victory over Proviso West, a 25-11, 25-13 victory over Willowbrook and a 25-12, 25-19 walk over Morton. Megan Wagner continues to be setter Caleigh Ryan's favorite target, nailing seven kills against Morton, 10 kills against Willowbrook and seven kills against Proviso West. Meanwhile, Megan DeMarr is establishing herself as one of the top liberos in the state. The Hilltoppers will put their unbeaten record on the line at Autumnfest hosted by Glenbard East October 12-13.

6. West Aurora 18-1 (6)

The Blackhawks face a big week with DuPage Valley Conference rival Naperville Central paying a visit on Tuesday and a road trip to Glenbard North on Thursday. Last week, West Aurora had little trouble with Glenbard East and Wheaton Warrenville South. Saturday, all eyes will be fixed on the Glenbrook North tournament where the final could come down to a showdown between the once-beaten Blackhawks led by Wisconsin-bound senior setter Lauren Carlini and unbeaten New Trier and its Northwestern-bound junior setter Taylor Tashima.

7. New Trier 18-0 (7)

Evanston and Lake Forest extended New Trier to three games in a pair of matches last week. Evanston, which is trying to rebound from a dismal performance at Wheaton Classic, fell to the Trevians 25-15, 26-28, 25-21. Lake Forest gave New Trier all it could handle in Game Two, but the Trevians had everything going its way otherwise in a 25-9, 20-25, 25-13 victory. New Trier is home against Niles West on Tuesday and at Waukegan Thursday before participating in the Glenbrook North invite on October 5-6.

8. St. Francis 23-5 (4)

A tough weekend for the Spartans at the Asics Challenge, losing to Marist in three grueling sets 22-25, 25-13, 25-15 and to Class 3A rival Joliet Catholic 25-17, 23-25, 25-17 in a Gold division consolation semifinal. This on the heels of easy wins over St. Edward and Wheaton Academy earlier in the week. The Spartans will try to get back on track this week with trips to Immaculate Conception on Monday and Rosary on Wednesday and a home match against Downers Grove South on Thursday.

9. Libertyville 13-3 (10)

Cindy Zhou had 15 assists and four kills, Kristen Webb added 23 dis, Taylor Zant contributed five kills and two blocks and Julie Smagacz added four kills and two blocks as Libertyville defeated Lake County rival Carmel. Later, the Wildcats barely broke a sweat in a 25-4, 25-7 win over North Suburban Conference foe North Chicago. Wednesday, the Wildcats are at Mundelein before competing in the Glenbrook North invite Friday and Saturday against a field that includes New Trier and West Aurora.

10. Hinsdale South 13-4 (9)

Good Hornets, bad Hornets? It was a simple line in a local newspaper: York def. Hinsdale South 25-23, 25-19. If so, it would be reminiscent of last year's rollercoaster ride for coach Lisa Martinez's charges. Regardless, the Hornets can make a big statement this weekend with a solid performance at the Mizuno Cup tournament hosted by St. Charles East at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora. Prior to that, the Hornets are at Proviso East on Tuesday and at home against Neuqua Valley on Wednesday.

Others: Stevenson, Naperville Central, Marian Catholic, Providence, Sandburg, Lincoln-Way Central, Stagg, Lockport, Hersey, Lincoln-Way East, Prairie Ridge, Naperville North, Nazareth, Palatine, Fremd, Crystal Lake South, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, St. Ignatius, Rosary, Chicago Christian, Immaculate Conception, Montini, Lemont, Glenbard South, West Chicago, Trinity, Timothy Christian.

Milestone: Joliet Catholic's victory over St. Francis at the Asics Challenge on Saturday was coach Christine Scheibe's 400th career victory. Scheibe has been a head coach for 13 seasons averaging more than 30 wins per year.

Quote of the Week: "It's a tough conference, the toughest conference in Illinois." - Nazareth libero Emily Milligan on the East Suburban Catholic Conference, which includes Marist, Benet, Joliet Catholic, Providence and the Roadrunners.

For the Cure: Naperville Central visits Wheaton Warrenville South on Monday, October 1 in a "Volley for the Cure" event. This has become one of the biggest cancer fundraisers of its kind, if not the biggest, in the state. The two teams raised more than $52,000 in 2011.

It's all about the Cup: The pools for the Mizuno Scholatic Cup hosted by St. Charles East and played at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora on Friday and Saturday have been released. Pool play begins Friday with games at 5:00, 6:15 and 7:30 p.m., and play continues in bracket format Saturday beginning at 8:00 a.m.

The top four seeds (and the other teams in their pools) in order are: Benet (Neuqua Valley, Rosary), Joliet Catholic (Muskego, Hinsdale Central), Hinsdale South (Leon, Fla., Geneva) and Naperville Central (Prairie Ridge, Peoria Notre Dame).

Seeds 5-8 are: Lincoln-Way East (Bloomington, Wheaton Warrenville South), Lincoln-Way Central (Barrington, Oak Forest), Naperville North (St. Charles East, Rockford Guilford) and Edwardsville (Lockport, St. Charles East JV).

Milestone: Congratulations to Hersey coach Nancy Lill, who earned her 800th career victory Tuesday when Hersey defeated Buffalo Grove 25-12, 25-9. Anna Mullenmuhr had 6 kills and Courtney Stedman added 5 kills for the Huskies (19-3, 8-0) who clinched the Mid-Suburban East title.

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Last year, when Rosary was 3A ,their sectional, which included Yorkville(where they played the regional along with Joliet Catholic) was considered out of the Chicagoland area so the sectional was not seeded. So, now the IHSA claims that the Nequa Valley sectional is not being seeded only because Yorkville is out of the Chicagoland area-what about Rosary? We were told last year we were not in the Chicagoland area and now we are? Rosary is of course walking distance to West Aurora. The IHSA is doing all of these players a disservice by not seeding this sectional and constantly changing the reasons why they don't seed things out. What a shame! IHSA get your story straight-it's all about where you live, not about how good you are.

While I agree with you that this is completely unfair, let's remmeber it is not just GIRLS that get treated poorly when it comes to Regional/Sectional/State pairings. Boys volleyball has been like this for YEARS and it is never going to change. Let's keep in mind that this would not happen in girls basketball either. It is not just the girls being treated unfairly here, it is the sport of volleyball. Please do not make this a "battle of the sexes" when it does not need to be.

when whitney young played bolingbrook girls basketball at hinsdale central in march of 2012, which prevented the no. 1 and no. 2 teams from meeting at ISU in the state playoffs, IHSA administration should have been displaced and replaced for incompetence and favoritism. there is no accountability for IHSA and their policies.

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on October 5, 2012 11:25 AM.

Benet snaps out of ESCC road funk at Joliet Catholic was the previous entry in this blog.

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