By Pat Brozynski

November 2012 Archives

The Illinois Center for Broadcasting SportsTownChicago.com's third annual High School Girl's All-Star Volleyball Game will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 1 at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 West College Parkway in Palos Hills.

All proceeds will go to American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Mother McAuley coach Jen DeJarld's White team features Abby Luebbers (Breese Mater Dei), Sheila Doyle (Benet Academy), Alysia Baznik (Naperville Central), Erienne Barry (St. Charles East), Krista Brakauskas (Providence), Ciara Hill (Bolingbrook) and Jessica Brezwyn (Hinsdale South).

Also, Morgan Reardon (Joliet Catholic), Meghan McDowell (Hinsdale Central), Melissa Deatsch (York), Danielle Davis (Bloomington Central Catholic), Mallory Wilczynski (Cary-Grove), Kelly Clarke (Mother McAuley), Logan Walling (Normal U-High) and Emily Lindemulder (Chicago Christian).

Edwardsville coach Jami Parker's Pink Team includes Emily Milligan (Nazareth Academy), Kayla Katarzynski (West Chicago), Lauren Carlini (West Aurora), McKenna Kelsay (St. Francis), Sophia Dodd (St. Ignatius), Mallory Salis (Marist), Caleigh Ryan (Glenbard West) and Tara Blake (Marian Central).

Also, Jane Trzaska (Glenbard South), Katie Roustio (O'Fallon), Amanda Dolan (Lincoln-Way Central), Corinne Gajcak (Naperville North), Sarah Parker (Edwardsville), Hannah Lee (Whitney Young) and Cindy Zhou (Libertyville).

"We are honored to once again host the all-star game to help raise the profile of the sport and bring notoriety to the tremendous talent we have across the state," said Dr. Peter Ferreri, program director of Sports Town Chicago.

"Our students at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting are looking forward to getting extra hands-on training during this very special broadcast," he added. "We're pleased we can provide them these opportunities."

***

Two-time Illinois High School Association Class 4A champion Benet Academy (38-4), which became the first large-class team to repeat since Mother McAuley in 1994-95, remained at No. 11 in the Prepvolleyball.com national rankings released November 15.

New Trier (39-2), which led Benet 20-16 in Game 2 before the Redwings went on a 9-2 run to win the set, climbed from No. 72 to No. 21. Mother McAuley, which dropped the last two sets in a three-set loss to New Trier in the semifinals, fell to No. 36 from No. 30.

Other Illinois teams in the top 100 include No. 41. Marist (29-6), up from No. 43; Class 3A state champion St. Francis, up to No. 47 from No. 50; and No. 66 Joliet Catholic (32-7), which showed no movement from the previous rankings.

Illinois teams cracking the bubble were Rockford Boylan, Champaign Centennial, Edwardsville, Glenbard West, Hinsdale South, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way Central, Marian Catholic, Naperville Central, O'Fallon, Quincy, Richmond-Burton, Sandburg, Springfield, Stagg, Stevenson and West Aurora.

Papillion-La Vista South (41-1) of Papillion, Nebraska, which features University of Nebraska-bound twins Kadie and Amber Rolfzien, remained No. 1 after winning their third straight Nebraska Class A title, sweeping Omaha Marian, the fifth time this season that Papillion-La Vista South defeated Marian.

Kadie Rolfzen had 17 kills and Kelly Hunter added 32 assists for the Titans, who have a three-year record of 122-1.

***

Neuqua Valley's girls basketball team won the war last Wednesday at York, 46-24, but the Wildcats' list of wounded continues to grow.

Five-foot-10 senior forward Kennedy Braasch was hurt early in the second half and did not return, while 5-8 junior guard Malia Smith was hurt with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and had to be attended to on the court.

"Thank goodness we have Thanksgiving," said Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams, whose team went 5-0 to win the tournament title. "We're banged up. We're also missing a guard (5-6 freshman Kai Moon), who had a concussion.

"This tournament is always a physical one, so it's a good one to start off the year," he added. "I'm pleased with where we are. We responded well and did some nice things."

Neuqua Valley had enough Friday to stymie Geneva, which has injury problems of its own after losing Michaela Loebel for the season with an ACL.

***

Mother McAuley's first-year coach Ashley Clanton admits she doesn't spend as much time talking to 5-foot-8 senior guard Alyssa Siwek as she should.

Then again, there's not a whole lot you need to say to somebody who had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists and nearly help the Mighty Macs upset No. 3-ranked Marian Catholic Saturday.

"I feel bad," Clanton said. "You're working with all the other girls, you find yourself not really speaking to her much. I got to make a plan to talk to Alyssa. You don't even know how good she is. We played all summer and we knew she was good. But once you get into these types of games, you really see."

***

Here are a few more girls basketball players to watch this season:

Six-foot-2 senior forward Meri Bennett-Swanson of Vernon Hills; Elk Grove's 5-10 senior forward Diamond Boyd and 5-7 guard Kelly Naughton; Maine South's 5-9 senior guard Regan Carmichael; 6-3 senior forward Caelyn Manning-Allen of Curie; and 5-7 senior guard Leah Munzer of Highland Park.

Also, 5-8 senior guard Lauren Parker and 5-11 senior guard Sydni Johnson of Homewood-Flossmoor; 5-9 junior guard Samantha Rodriguez of Zion-Benton; 6-0 senior forward Destiny Young of Hoffman Estates; 5-6 senior guard Nia Pappas of Palatine; and 5-9 senior forward Melanie Ransom of Marian Catholic.

Also, 6-4 senior center Diamond Thompson of Wheaton Warrenville South; 5-8 point guard Georgia Danos of Richards Career Academy; 5-9 senior guard Rachel Ruzevich of Sandburg; and 5-7 guard Kamara Jordan and 5-10 junior guard Amarah Coleman of Bolingbrook.

Also, 6-2 senior center Cate Soane of Glenbard West; 5-7 senior guard Nikia Edom of Plainfield East; 5-9 senior guard Anita Sterling of Willowbrook; and 5-10 senior forward Allison Hedrick and 6-2 sophomore Bryce Menendez of Neuqua Valley.

Keep an eye on 6-foot freshman Kelly Polte of York and 5-6 freshman Myia Starks of Neuqua Valley, whose talents were showcased in the championship game of the York tournament last Wednesday.

***

Here is the schedule for the Chi-Town Showdown December 7-9 at Whitey Young:

Friday, December 7
Champaign Central vs. Hyde Park, 5:00 p.m.
Proviso West vs. St. Joseph's (Canada), 6:30 p.m.
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) vs. Whitney Young, 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 8
Westinghouse vs. Mother McAuley, 10:00 a.m.
Al Raby vs. Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), 11:30 a.m.
St. Joseph's (Canada) vs. Bogan, 1:00 p.m.
Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.) vs. Morgan Park, 2:30 p.m.
Milwaukee (Wis.) Riverside vs. Trinity, 4:00 p.m.
Miller Career Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) vs. Marian Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
DeKalb vs. Whitney Young, 7:00 p.m.
Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) vs. Rolling Meadows, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 9
St. Joseph's (Canada) vs. Kenwood, 11:30 a.m.

***

Naperville North's 6-foot-5 setter Gert Lisha, who is setting for Sports Performance 18 Mizuno team during the club season, recently committed to Lewis University.

"Gert is definitely going to have a huge role this spring at Naperville North both as a setter and attacker," Naperville North coach Nathan Bornancin said. "He is putting in the time in the off-season becoming a more well-rounded player and obviously the college scouts took notice.

"I feel like every time I was at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center this past girls season, Gert was in the gym or in the weight room working on something," the coach added. "I guess hard work does pay off."


all-area.jpgThe 2012 Sun-Times All-Area team got together in early November to celebrate their achievements.


Deer-Creek Mackinaw won the Class 2A championship two weeks ago led by head coach Mike Bolhuis, who just a few years ago played for the Lincoln-Way East's boys team that reached the state semifinals in 2007 before losing to New Trier 19-25, 31-29, 25-22.

What is amazing is that Bolhuis, 22, who was a junior on that 2007 fourth-place team, hasn't even graduate from college yet. The 2008 Lincoln-Way East grad is a wrapping up his degree work at Illinois State University. He continues to play sand volleyball.

Bolhuis skipped classes on Friday to coach Dee-Mack in the state semifinals.

***
Junior Alyssa Warren, a 2010 graduate of Joliet Catholic High School, was named The Big East Conference "Libero of the Year" at the conference's annual Championship Banquet Thursday in Milwaukee, Wis.

One of the marquee defensive players of the conference, Warren led the Big East with 5.88 digs per game and ranked ninth in the nation. She recorded 16 matches of 20 or more digs in 2012 and reached double digits in digs in all 15 Big East games this year.

Warren played every set for the Pirates this season and moved into sole possession of second place on Seton Hall's career dig list. Her 42 digs at Connecticut on October 28 was the high for any Big East player this season. Warren also had 40 digs versus Villanova.

***

Romeoville High School girls basketball players Kiera Currie and Abby Smith signed their national letters of intent Friday. Currie committed to Gardner Webb University and Smith signed with McKendree University.

Currie, a 5-foot-10 center/forward, averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game for last year's 22-5 team while Smith averaged 10 points and four assists per game. Other players to watch include 5-7 guard Angelica Osusky (eight points per game) and 5-9 sophomore Jamie Hopper.

"The push is on for our girls after disappointing losses to finish the season, we worked extremely hard over the offseason and want to repeat as conference champs and bring home some playoff hardware," coach Julio Carrasco said.

***

St. Joseph lost Sun-Times all-area selections Briya Wilborn and Donna Koerber to graduation, but the beat goes on in Westchester. The Chargers opened the 2012-2013 season with a 49-47 victory over East Aurora at the Willowbrook tournament.

Chanel Brown led St. Joseph with 28 points and 12 rebounds while KeTyra Saunders and Shaakera Jones (nine points) each contributed 10 rebounds.

"Kietta Saunders performed admirably in her debut as our field general," coach Jim Maley said. "Deja Horn played her usual tough defense when she wasn't handcuffed with foul trouble. We looked brilliant at certain points and sluggish at others. It was a typical opening game."

Melissa Hollingshed, Khadija Scott and Emilie Liotine came in off the bench and preserved St. Joseph's lead in the second quarter.

***

Batavia coach Kevin Jensen welcomes back seven players from last year's team, including Liza Fruendt, Sami Villarreal and Miranda Grizaffi. Erin Bayram also returns after suffering a season ending injury last December.

***

Babbi Barreiro begins her 20th year as head coach at Barrington where she is the dean of Mid-Suburban League coaches. The Fillies return eight players from last year including five who saw extensive playing time.

Returners from last season include 5-foot-10 Maddie Bartz, 5-10 forward Alexa Resch and 5-10 junior guard Angie Kirchoff. Players to watch include 5-9 junior guard Aoife Callanan and 6-foot freshman Megan Talbot.

***

How would you like to inherit three Division I prospects and almost every player of note from a team that went 25-5 and won a conference title?

Welcome to Ryan Kirkorsky's world.

The former Elk Grove coach moved to Rolling Meadows this fall where he welcomes 5-11 junior guard Alexis Glasgow, 5-6 junior guard Jackie Kemph and 6-2 junior guard Jenny Vliet from last year's Mid-Suburban League championship tea.

Also back is 6-foot center Morgan Keller. Newcomers include 5-5 junior guard Sami Kay, 5-6 junior guard Allie Kemph, 6-1 junior forward Ashley Montanez, 5-11 junior forward Katie Shewmon and junior guards Chloe Prodanovic and Elizabeth Vasilogambros.

"Obviously our three returning juniors are very skilled and receive a lot of attention, but ultimately the key to our success will be the contributions of the other players on the roster," Kirkorsky said. "Our players have high expectations, but our only concern is getting better each day in practice."

Rolling Meadows' schedule includes a trip to defending Class 2A champion Quincy Notre Dame, the Whitney Young Shootout and the McDonald's Shootout.

***

The Ashley Santos era is over at Geneva. Has the Sidney Santos era begun?

After battling knee injuries the past two years, the younger Santos makes her long-awaited debut this season. Also back from last year's 24-6 team are 6-1 sophomore Abby Novak, 6-1 senior Sami Pawlak, 5-5 junior Michaela Loebel and 5-9 junior Morgan Seberger.

"We have more to prove this year," coach Sarah Meadows said. "We have key kids coming back with a year of varsity experience. We have some tough games with season that we are looking forward to. We are athletic and will get up and down the court."


carlini wisconsin.jpgChicago Sun-Times 2012 Player of the Year Lauren Carlini of West Aurora signs a letter of intent to play at Wisconsin next fall.


Benet goes back-to-back? That's a fact, Jack.

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benet title.jpgBenet did a lot of this during 2012, including after its final match of the season.


Chicago Sun-Times Final 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams
(Preseason ranking in parenthesis)

1. Benet 40-2 (8)

Benet coach Brad Baker took a collection of club "B" team players and an outside hitter who was a team manager for the school's 2011 title team and molded them into a state champion. Benet became the first team since Mother McAuley in 1995-95 to win back-to-back championships among the state's biggest schools. "I give credit to our freshman, sophomore and JV coaches who prepare these kids so that they're ready when it's their turn," Baker said. Whose turn is it next year? The Redwings will build around returnees Brittany Pavich, Rachael Fara, Caroline Wolf and sophomore Natalie Canulli, whose four kills, two aces and a block were huge in the championship game win over New Trier.

2. New Trier 39-2 (NR)

The Trevians came oh-so-close to their first state title since winning the inaugural tournament back in 1975. But coach Hannah Hsieh will welcome back a strong nucleus around which to build including one of the best setters in the country, 6-foot Taylor Tashima, who had 32 assists and seven kills in the title-game loss to Benet. Also back will be the towering tandem of 6-3 junior Haley Fauntleroy (seven kills against Benet and four kills and six block assists against McAuley in the semifinals) and 6-4 sophomore Sarah Shafiq, and libero Emmy Friedler.

3. Mother McAuley 37-5 (2)

Mother McAuley coach Jen DeJarld expects the Mighty Macs to be ranked in the top three nationally entering the 2013 season, and who can argue? Five of the Macs' top players were sophomores - outside hitter Ryann DeJarld, outside hitter Kennedy Arundel, libero Carla Cahill, rightside hitter Maggie Scanlon and middle hitter Kelsey Clark - and three more were juniors - setter Courtney Joyce, middle Gabrielle Ennis and outside hitter Molly Geary. One observer noted that McAuley still must find that "go-to" player at crunch time, but the physically-imposing Clark could be that player.

4. Libertyville 34-8 (NR)

The Wildcats did not win a match downstate, but they erased any doubts that they belonged among the state's elite. They took Game 1 off Benet and led 15-10 in Game 2 before the eventual state champions rallied, and led McAuley 22-20 in Game 1 of the third-place match before a service error began their downfall. Coach Greg Loika bids farewell to the nucleus of his 34-8 team, including setter Cindy Zhou, libero Kristen Webb, rightside hitter Taylor Zant and outside hitter Julia Smagacz, and will undertake a major rebuilding job in 2013.

5. St. Francis 37-5 (3)

Ugly uniforms or no, there was no stopping St. Francis last weekend in Normal. The Spartans won the school's ninth state title despite challenges from Champaign Centennial and the Ali Frantti-powered Richmond-Burton. The challenge next year for veteran coach Peg Kopec is replacing setter McKenna Kelsay, but whoever moves into that role will have a lot of offense to work with in the persons of Molly and Maddie Haggerty and middle hitter Mary Boken. A 10th state title isn't assured next season, but the Spartans will enter 2013 as the overwhelming favorites.

6. Marist 31-6 (1)

Lost to Lincoln-Way Central in the regional finals.

7. Joliet Catholic 32-7 (NR)

Lost to St. Francis in the sectional finals.

8. Glenbard West 37-3 (6)

Lost to New Trier in the supersectional.

9. West Aurora 32-6 (NR)

Lost to Benet in the regional finals.

10. Sandburg 29-9 (5)

Lost to Mother McAuley in the sectional semifinals.

Others: Richmond-Burton 35-6, Naperville Central 28-9, Prairie Ridge 30-10, Hinsdale South 31-8, Stagg 31-8, Marian Catholic 28-9, Stevenson 34-4, Lincoln-Way Central 29-9, Lemont 26-13, Naperville North 27-9, Hinsdale Central 14-26, St. Ignatius 28-10, Crystal Lake South 26-10, Providence 25-12, Geneva 30-8, Palatine 27-12, Hersey 32-6, Trinity 26-9, Nazareth 24-14, Chicago Christian 24-16, St Charles East 25-13, Plainfield North 27-9, Oak Lawn 25-8.

Did you know? Benet setter Hannah Kaminsky finished her high school career having never lost a tournament game of any kind on any level - freshman, sophomore or varsity. Her two-year varsity career included 79 wins, five losses, a 40-0 record in eight regular-season tournaments, and a 14-0 record and two championships in state tournament play.

One final thought: Anyone in the media room following St. Francis' 25-21, 25-20 victory over Richmond-Burton for the IHSA Class 3A title had to be moved when sophomore Mary Boken spoke about her sister, Megan, a member of the last St. Francis championship team in 2006 who was murdered in St. Louis in August. There wasn't an athlete in the state who displayed more courage than the young sophomore did this season, playing through that anguish thanks in large part to the support of her teammates and the St. Francis volleyball family.

Sun-Times all-area team achieved much in 2012

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Here is a more in-depth look at the members of the 2012 Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Team:

Thumbnail image for lauren carlini.jpgLAUREN CARLINI
School: West Aurora
Year: Senior
Height: 6-foot-1
Position: Setter/rightside hitter
College: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Season highlights: The 2012 Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year was named the top college recruit in the nation by Prepvolleyball.com. She was named to the all-tournament teams at the Benet invite, the Glenbrook North Discovery Tournament and the Autumnfest Tournament hosted by Glenbard East.
About the player: Carlini is a four-year varsity letterwinner and was captain of the team for the past three years. Her dedication to her sport and her motivation to always be better set her apart. She dominates as a hitter, set up the offense as a setter and possesses a dynamite jump serve. She set an example by her own hard work as well as her ability to motivate her team.
Quote: "Carlini is the ultimate physical setter. Her fitness level is extreme. You have to respect her offense so when she jumps to set, the defense MUST jump also, creating one-on-ones all over the court. Her blocking can shut down the best left-side attackers. She is one of the most competitive 'Hate-to-lose' players I have ever seen." - Prepvolleyball.com's John Tawa.

ALYSIA BAZNIK
School: Naperville Central
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-10
Position: Setter/outside hItter
College: University of Evansville
Season highlight: Baznik was named all-tournament at the Wheaton Classic and Autumnfest hosted by Glenbard East. Baznik was also named to the DuPage Valley Conference all-conference team.
About the player: Baznik finished the regular season with 304 kills, 174 digs, 20 blocks and 58 aces for a team that lived on the fringe of the Sun-Times Top 10 most of the season and finished one game behind West Aurora for the league title.
Quote: "Alysia is a four year varsity starter. She is an impact player from all six rotations on the floor. She finds ways to score despite being double- and triple-blocked. She is a great leader both on and off the floor and is simply irreplaceable." - Naperville Central coach Brie Isaacson.

JESSICA BREZWYN
School: Hinsdale South
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-9
Position: Outside hitter
College: North Carolina-Greensboro
Season highlight: Brezwyn helped lead her team to a first place finish in the Lyons Invite hitting over .500 and producing over 32 kills in two matches and 21 digs. She was named to all-tournament teams twice this year and had a season-high 23 kills versus Libertyville.
About the player: Brezwyn is graduating as one of Hinsdale South's best players to come through the door. A four-year varsity starter, she accumulated many accolades throughout her four years, including all-conference all four years. Brezwyn led the Hornets in kills and was second in digs each of the last two years.
Quote: "Jessica has truly blossomed into an amazing all around volleyball player. She went from being a shy, long and gangly freshman who was a starter on varsity, to a player that can not only control a match, but take over a match. I am so honored that I got to spend four years coaching Jess, and the best part about her is she has yet to hit her glass ceiling. Although she is one of the strongest players in the area, she still craves information to continue to improve her all-around game. Her dedication to this sport has truly paid off." - Hinsdale South coach Lisa Martinez.

JILL CONRAD
School: Stagg
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-11
Position: Rightside/setter
About the player: Conrad had 208 kills, 414 assists, 35 aces, 155 digs and 196 service points during the regular season.
Quote: "I remember coaching Jill at our junior high basketball and volleyball camps at Stagg and thinking 'Wow, this kid is going to be good...really good.' Jill is a player you can't help but love to watch. She has some of the best setter's hands we have seen at Stagg. Jill has been the starting setter on the varsity team her freshman through senior year. I don't think there has ever been a match where Jill wasn't a stat leader. Her competitive nature is one that is admired by all her teammates. The Stagg volleyball program will experience a great loss as we say goodbye and good luck to Jill." - Stagg coach Deanna Storino.

SHEILA DOYLE
School: Benet Academy
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-5
Position: Libero
College: North Carolina
Season highlight: Doyle was named all-tournament at the Mizuno Scholastic Cup and Wheaton Classic tournaments and was named the MVP at the Benet invite and Autumnfest hosted by Glenbard East. She was named to the East Subruban Catholic All-Conference team and was the Daily Herald Player of the Year.
About the player: Doyle was a two-year starter at libero and had 307 digs through the regular season in 2012 after compiling 286 as a junior.
Quote: "Shelia is one of the best liberos I have ever seen. Most defensive players excel at playing defense or serve receive, but Sheila does both at an elite level. She is an extremely quick and fast player, but what makes her great is her ability to read plays early and put herself in position to make plays. Sheila is a high energy, high motor player who attacks the ball. Where she has come from in the last four years speaks (Doyle was on the 'B' team as freshman) to her work ethic and her want to be great. She is committed to North Carolina where I expect her to make an immediate impact." - Benet coach Brad Baker.

DAKOTA HAMPTON
School: Sandburg
Year: Senior
Height: 6-foot-1
Position: Outside hitter
College: University of South Florida
Season highlight: Hampton accumulated more than 50 kills in the Maine West Tournament to lead Sandburg to the championship. She had 320 kills and 200 digs through the regular season.
About the player: Hampton could be the most powerful player Sandburg has seen in a decade. A three-year varsity starter that has improved her game each and every year, she is a complete player both offensively and defensively. Few teams challenge her blocking and she has single-handedly won games at the service line. Defensively, she covers the court from corner to corner and remains an offensive threat from the back row.
Quote: "Dakota impresses others on the court but it is what she brings to the team off the court that sets her above the rest. She has taken ownership of the team in preparation and focus. She will be her teammate's biggest critic but will be the biggest cheerleader when they are successful. She wants to win and has convinced all 14 teammates to give 100 percent during every game, every practice and every off day." - Sandburg coach David Vales.

HANNAH KAMINSKY
School: Benet Academy
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-11
Position: Setter
College: Uncommitted
Season highlight: Kaminsky was named the MVP of the Mizuno Scholastic Cup and Wheaton Classic tournaments.
About the player: All Kaminsky has done in her career is win. She is 16-0 lifetime in tournaments, and has lost only lost five times in her high school career (17-0 if you include last year's state tournament). A two-time All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection, Kaminsky had 976 assists as a junior to help lead the Redwings to the Class 4A state title and had 859 through the end of the regular season this fall.
Quote: "Hannah is a winner. She makes other players around her better and rise to a level that they have never played at before. While the most important aspect of being a great setter is delivering a hittable ball every time, what separates Hannah from other setters is her ability to do everything else at an elite level. She has an extremely effective serve, plays defense at a D-I libero level and communicates better than any setter I have seen. She is also a great teammate who sets an example for everyone else by making sure she is working hard and always improving her skills. The most impressive part is that she did not become a full-time setter until her sophomore year, meaning her best days are still ahead."

EMILY MILLIGAN
School: Nazareth Academy
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-6
Position: Libero
College: North Dakota State
About the player: Milligan is the latest in a long line of strong defensive players for Nazareth Academy. She led the team in aces and serving percentage, and averaged five digs per game. She was a unanimous All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection, and was named to the all-tournament teams at the Body and Sole Charger Invitational and the Darla Moldenhauer Boilermaker Classic. She helped lead the Roadrunners to back-to-back regional titles.
Quote: "Emily is one of the most intense players I have ever coached, whether in practice or a match. She always brings the same hustle and determination. She is the quarterback, constantly calling out what is happening on both sides of the net, helping her teammates and at the same time playing her position like few others can. Emily has been a big part of the success of the team over the past three years." - Nazareth Academy coach Wayne Saunders.

MORGAN REARDON
School: Joliet Catholic
Year: Senior
Height: 6-foot
Position: Outside hItter
College: Loyola-Chicago
Season highlight: Reardon had season-best 25 kills in a 25-17, 23-25, 25-17 victory over Wheaton St. Francis in the semi-final consolation match of the Gold Division at the Asics tournament.
About the player: Reardon is the latest in a long line of superlative volleyball players for Joliet Catholic. She averaged 10 kills, nine digs, and 4.2 service points per match for the Angels. She was named to the all-tournament teams at the Asics Challenge, the Mizuno Scholastic Cup, and the Glenbard East Autumnfest Tournament. She will graduate as the fourth-leading attacker in Joliet Catholic history behind 2007 Gatorade National Player of the Year Kelly Murphy, DePaul Basketball standout Allie Quigley and Wisconsin's Annemarie Hickey.
Quote: "Morgan is one of the best players I have ever coached. She has had a tremendous impact on our team the past three years and is a big reason for all the success we've had. She was a marked person by other teams, yet she was always able to come up with the big kill, big serve or the big defensive play. She is simply irreplaceable." - Joliet Catholic coach Chris Scheibe.

caleigh ryan.JPGCALEIGH RYAN
School: Glenbard West
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-10
Position: Setter/outside hitter
College: Northwestern
Season highlight: Ryan scored game point against Downers Grove North to give the Hilltoppers their first conference title since 1984.
About the player: Ryan has been a four-year starter for Glenbard West. She was converted into a setter during her sophomore year. Her athleticism and leadership have been significant in Glenbard West's back-to-back 30-win seasons and more than 100 wins the past four years. Ryan has been named to eight all-tournament teams, and will graduate as the program's all-time assist leader with more than 2,012 assists, surpassing Amy Kendall (Miami of Ohio).
Quote: "Caleigh has been responsible for our resurgence as a program. She refuses to take a day off or even a play off. Her demeanor on and off the court will be hard to replace. She has had a relentless work ethic that has allowed her to juggle her remarkable athletic career with an amazing 5.8 GPA. Our entire school community will miss Caleigh as a leader, student and athlete." - Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea.

MALLORY SALIS
School: Marist
Year: Senior
Height: 5-foot-9
Position: Outside hitter
College: Ohio University
Season highlight: Salis was named the MVP of the NIKE Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., leading the RedHawks to the title of the 64-team tournament featuring some of the top teams from around the country.
About the player: Salis finished the season with 311 kills, 389 service receptions, 350 digs, 166 service points, 77 aces and 40 blocks. She was named the East Suburban Catholic Conference "Player of the Year" and to the all-tournament teams at the Wheaton Classic, Rich East and the Asics Challenge.
Quote: "Mallory is the most versatile and well-rounded attacker to come out of the Marist volleyball program in the 11-year history of our program. Mallory is a six-rotation threat. She is a classic "Old-school" outside hitter who can make a tremendous impact in all six rotations. Her defense is as exemplary as her offense. When looking at the impressive quality of teams that we played consistently all season, it is beyond impressive to see the impact that Mallory has made. Her leadership skills have grown tremendously throughout her journey at Marist. She is widely respected and viewed as a positive role model among not only her teammates, but her opponents as well." - Marist coach Natalie Holder.

CINDY ZHOU
School: Libertyville
Year: Senior
Height: 6-foot
Position: Setter
College: Michigan
Season highlight: Zhou amassed more than 520 assists, 167 kills, 156 digs and 38 aces during the regular season and led the team in aces and assists, was second in kills and third in digs. She was named to the all-tournament team at the Wheaton Classic.
About the player: Zhou holds the Libertyville school record in assists with more than 1,900 in her four-year varsity career, although she set a 6-2 as a freshman. Zhou has led the team to two North Suburban Conference titles in three seasons and has more than 120 career victories as a Wildcat.
Quote: "Cindy is the best offensive setter we've ever had, and certainly the best offensive setter in our area over the past couple of seasons. She has the ability to not only dish assists, but also she can attack from any rotation effectively. The greatest growth area for her has been her leadership and determination to win. In several matches, she's literally put the team on her back and simply willed us to win. Her decision-making and precision sets puts defenses on their heels as she can literally go anywhere with the ball. I've been most impressed with Cindy's poise, her character and her sportsmanship, all things we will be very sad to see departing Libertyville at season's end. She has made her Libertyville volleyball family very, very proud." - Libertyville coach Greg Loika.

Note: The 2012 Chicago Sun-Times All-Area Volleyball Team will run in print on Saturday, November 10.


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

1. Benet 38-2 (1)

Think: defense wins championships. The defending state champions turned on the "D" and rallied from big deficits in both games to topple Edwardsville 25-20, 25-20 behind Cara Mattaliano's 10 kills and Sheila Doyle's 17 digs at the Normal West supersectional. The Redwings haven't lost on a Saturday since October 2010 and have won 44 straight tournament matches. Earlier in the week, Benet ousted Lemont in the sectional finals 25-14, 25-15 behind Mattaliano's 10 kills and Hannah Kaminsky's 25 assists, and rolled to a stunningly easy 25-10, 25-11 victory over West Aurora behind Brittany Pavich's nine kills and Abby Willett's three kills and two blocks.

2. Mother McAuley 36-4 (2)

Has Mother McAuley arrived a year early? By the Mighty Macs' standards, their three-year drought between state appearances was a lifetime. Sophomores Carla Cahill, Ryann DeJarld and Kelsey Clark and junior Courtney Joyce led McAuley to state for the first time since 2008 with a 25-17, 25-15 victory over Hinsdale Central in the supersectional at McAuley. Earlier in the week, the Mighty Macs re-established their dominance of the South Side by ending Stagg's fairybook season 25-16, 25-19 behind Joyce's 23 assists, seven kills and Maggie Scanlon's six kills and two blocks, and surviving a thrilling 25-21, 25-27, 25-23 victory over Sandburg.

3. Marist 31-6 (3)

The folks on the East Coast aren't the only ones who face a major rebuilding job. The RedHawks part ways with Mallory Salis, setter Taylor Holder, middle Rachel Dalton, 6-foot-2 outside Elyse Panick, middle blocker Shannon Murphy and outside hitter Kelly Marcinek from a team that won the prestigious NIKE Tournament of Champions in Arizona but stumbled against Lincoln-Way Central in a regional final. Junior libero Carolyn Yerkes and setter Molly Mayo will be back, and the RedHawks have more talent in the pipeline at the freshman and sophomore levels, so don't expect Marist to fall too far off the map.

4. St. Francis 35-5 (7)

What? No Breese Master Dei? St. Francis punched its ticket to Normal for the 17th time in school history with a 25-22, 25-15 win over the hosts at the Class 3A Chicago Christian supersectional. But they won't be challenged by two-time defending champion Mater Dei, which lost to Columbia in the sectional. Instead, their opener with Champaign Centennial figures to be their toughest obstacle to a 10th state title. Earlier in the week, St. Francis fought off two match points to defeat Joliet Catholic 25-15, 24-26, 30-28 in the sectional championship to add another chapter to the teams' storied rivalry.

5. New Trier 39-1 (5)

New Trier is seeking its first state title since New Trier (East) won the inaugural state tournament title 1975. The Trevians advanced with a 25-13, 23-25, 25-14 victory over Glenbard West at the Niles West supersectional. New Trier opened up an 11-1 lead in Game 1, then after stumbling in Game 2, took control of Game 3 at point No. 20 and never looked back. Next up? Mother McAuley. Earlier in the week, the Trevians benefitted from geography as they rolled past Niles North 25-21, 25-23 and Niles West 25-16, 26-24 in a sectional that featured 12 teams from the inner city (they have to play somewhere, don't they?).

6. Libertyville 34-6 (9)

Flashbacks. Everybody was having them. Shades of the Hersey match, the Wildcats gave up a 7-0 run after leading 24-16 in Game 2 of their supersectional against Prairie Ridge, but held on for a 26-24, 25-23 win. Earlier in the week, Libertyville rallied from an early 7-1 deficit to defeat Palatine 25-21, 25-14 in the sectional championship at Fremd. In the sectional semifinals, Libertyville blew a 21-11 lead in Game 1 against Hersey, but rallied for a 25-27, 25-17, 25-21 victory. Cindy Zhou had eight kills and 26 assists,
Kristen Webb had 32 digs and 8 assists, Rhiannon Prentiss had 14 digs and 12 kills and Julia Smagacz added 12 kills.

7. Joliet Catholic 32-7 (4)

Joliet Catholic's phenomenal season ended in a classic three-set match in the sectional finals at Glenbard South, won by archrival St. Francis 25-15, 24-26, 30-28. Morgan Reardon had 16 kills as the Angels rallied from a 14-9 deficit in Game 3 to grab a 23-21 lead, but Joliet Catholic could not put the pesky Spartans away. Earlier in the week, Joliet Catholic defeated Nazareth 25-16, 25-21 in the sectional semifinals. Now the work begins anew for coach Chris Scheibe, who says farewell to Reardon, setter Molly Mangun and middle hitter Katelyn Seeman. Back are junior middle Angela Vera and outside Julia Shemaitis.

8. Glenbard West 37-3 (8)

The glass slipper didn't fit. In a season of firsts, the Hilltoppers fell one game short of state after Saturday's 25-13, 23-25, 25-14 loss to New Trier at the Niles West sectional. Earlier in the week, Glenbard West defeated St. Charles North 25-23, 25-19 and Geneva 25-27, 27-25, 25-21, rallying from a 21-19 deficit in Game 2 against the Vikings at the St. Charles North sectional. The sectional title was Glenbard West's first since 1985 and the 37 wins established a new school record. Meg DeMarr had 33 digs in the match against Geneva and Meg Wagner and Amanda Perry each had 13 kills.

9. West Aurora 32-6 (6)

The Lauren Carlini era has ended at West Aurora. All the 6-foot-2 Wisconsin-bound setter/outside hitter did during her stellar four-year career is lead the former DuPage Valley Conference cellar-dwellar to back-to-back league titles, a regional title in arguably one of the toughest sectionals in the state, a school-record 32-win season and the previously unknown realm of ranking among the state's best teams. Also bidding farewell are setter Elli Martin, middle blocker Nerissa Vogt, outside hitter Kaitlyn Richter and outside hitter Peyton McKenzie, begging the question: Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Coach Kari Nicholson has some major work ahead.

10. Sandburg 29-9 (10)

David Vales' Eagles were playing as well as any team in the state down the stretch, a testament to his patience as he molded some disparate pieces into a south suburban powerhouse. But now he must say adieu to his big three of Dakota Hampton, Paige Bendell and Kristy Theisen, and the task ahead will be difficult. Sandburg does return sophomore setter Sami Knight, 5-9 junior Meghan Hutchinson, junior middle Kelly Finlay, and sophomores Kelly Bolitto (middle hitter) and Leah Lane (rightside), who all played significant minutes down the stretch. But at least Vales has a few months to find the next Hampton.

Others: Naperville Central 28-9, Prairie Ridge 30-10, Hinsdale South 31-8, Stagg 31-8, Marian Catholic 28-9, Stevenson 34-4, Lincoln-Way Central 29-9, Lemont 26-13, Naperville North 27-9, Hinsdale Central 14-26, St. Ignatius 28-10, Crystal Lake South 26-10, Providence 25-12, Geneva 30-8, Palatine 27-12, Hersey 32-6, Richmond-Burton 35-4, Trinity 26-9, Nazareth 24-14, Chicago Christian 24-16, St Charles East 25-13, Plainfield North 27-9, Oak Lawn 25-8.

The quote: "I'm pretty sick of this happening. It's extremely frustrating right now that this happens year in and year out. It's not fair to the girls. I don't know why the IHSA continues to do it because it's just not fair. For the past six years, it's been Joliet Catholic, Nazareth, St. Francis, Benet, JCA...it's the same thing year after year and it's just very frustrating as a coach to know we get the kids that walk in the door school we do the very best we can with them, and I think we do a pretty good job. They (private schools) have an advantage. I'm tired of that happening." - Lemont coach Chris Zogata, whose teams have been eliminated from the state tournament by private schools each of the last six seasons.

That's a fact, Jack: The roll call of teams that have eliminated Lemont from the state tournament since 2007 includes: Benet Academy (25-14, 25-15) in the 2012 Class 4A sectional final; Nazareth (25-21, 25-17) in the 2011 Class 3A regional final; Joliet Catholic (25-19, 25-20) in the 2010 Class 3A sectional semifinal; St. Francis (25-16, 25-14) in the 2009 Class 3A sectional semifinal; Joliet Catholic (25-14, 25-16) in the 2008 Class 3A sectional final; and Joliet Catholic (25-19, 25-20) in the 2007 Class 3A sectional semifinal. In 2006, Lemont lost to Hinsdale South in the Class AA sectional semifinals, 21-25, 25-15, 25-14.

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