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."