By Pat Brozynski

Carlini named Gatorade National Player of the Year

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gatorade.jpgLauren Carlini and West Aurora coach Lori Nicholson pictured with the Gatorade Player of the Year trophy.


The honors continue to pour in for Sun-Times Player of the Year Lauren Carlini of West Aurora.

Tuesday, the 6-foot-1 senior setter/outside hitter, who will be attending the University of Wisconsin next fall, learned she has been named the 2012-13 Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, recognizes Carlini as the nation's best high school volleyball player.

Carlini recorded 333 kills, 303 assists, 156 digs, 92 service aces and 50 blocks this past season while posting a kill percentage of .594 and leading the Blackhawks (32-6) to the Class 4A sectional semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Benet.

She has maintained a 3.73 GPA in the classroom and volunteered locally on behalf of the Geneva Police Department, the Illinois Math and Science Academy and as a youth volleyball coach.

Carlini earned MVP honors in leading the U.S. Girls Youth National Team to a gold medal at the 2011 USA Volleyball High Performance Championships. She also started for Team USA at that summer's FIVB Girls Youth World Championships in Turkey, and PrepVolleyball.com named her the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2013.

The Gatorade Player of the Year is selected from among more than 400,000 high school volleyball players across the country by a national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team in partnership with USA TODAY High School Sports.

Carlini is just the fourth player from Illinois to win the award since 1995-1996. Previous winners from Illinois include Joliet Catholic's Kelly Murphy (2008-09), Oghanna Nnamani from Normal U-High (2000-01) and Benet Academy's Denise Boylan (1996-97).

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Carlini brought home more hardware after she was named the MVP of the third annual SportsTownChicago.com High School Girl's All-Star Volleyball Game played two weeks ago at Moraine Valley Community College.

Behind 13 kills and 10 assists from Carlini, Team Pink defeated Team White 25-19, 17-25, 25-11, 16-25, 15-7.

"Everyone was super excited to play with each other, we came in really open minded and our main thing to tonight was to just have fun," Carlini said. "We made it this far, we're all all-stars here no matter what so we had nothing to prove, we just had to go out there have fun. Winning was just icing on the cake."

Alysia Baznik from Naperville Central led the way for Team White with 13 kills and Hinsdale Central's Meghan McDowell added eight kills and 12 assists.

The all-star game is the brainchild of Sports Town Chicago's Peter Ferreri.

"Three years ago, there were all-star games for nearly every sport except girls volleyball, so we thought we'd fill the gap," he said. "We are thankful to all the girls from all four corners of the state for their participation and are already looking forward to next year's event."

Proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Mother McAuley coach Jen DeJarld's White team featured 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 included 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).

The game is available for downloading at www.SportsTownChicago.com/asg2012.

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Dodd,_Harris_and_Evans_Sign_Pic.jpgSt. Ignatius' Sophia Dodd (left), Camille Evans (center) and Casey Harris recently inked their letters of intent under the watchful eye of coach Erik Eastman.

Three volleyball players who led St. Ignatius to an 86-28 record over the past three seasons recently signed their national letters of intent to play Division I volleyball.

Sophia Dodd, who had 648 kills, 120 aces, 1,836 assists, 177 block assists, 21 block solos and 826 digs during her stellar career, signed with Wake Forest. Camille Evans, who had 776 kills, 61 aces, 87 block assists, 13 block solos, 294 digs and a hitting percentage of .359 at the near west side school, signed with the University of Connecticut.

Casey Harris, who had 246 kills, 169 block assists, 49 block solos and hitting percentage of .334 during her career at St. Ignatius, opted to stay close to home and inked a letter with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Former Barrington and University of Illinois basketball star Ashley Berggren, who now teaches and coaches girls basketball at Schaumburg, will be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame later this season.

Berggren is Illinois' all-time leading scorer, amassing 2,089 points during her career. She was Big Ten Player of the Year as a junior in 1997, leading the Illini to a Big Ten championship and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. During her senior year of 1997-98, Berggren earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor and led the Orange and Blue to their second consecutive NCAA Sweet 16.

She is the only Illini to be named first team All-Big Ten for three seasons, and also earned national recognition as an Associated Press Third Team All-American in 1998 and an honorable mention All-American in 1996 and 1997.

A 1994 graduate of Barrington, Berggren holds the Illinois record for points scored in a season with 689 in 1995-96. She also holds the school record for career free throws made (562), is tied for second in field goals made (748), is fifth on the career assists list (328), seventh on the career rebounding list (779) and eighth on the career steals list (183).

She scored a career-high of 43 points, the second highest single-game total in U of I history, on January 14, 1996.

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