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.