Chicago Sun-Times
By Pat Brozynski

June 2013 Archives

Thumbnail image for lauren carlini.jpgGatorade Player of the Year Lauren Carlini, the nation's No. 1 college recruit, led Sports Performance 18 Elite to the championship of the 18 Open division at the 2013 AAU Girls' Junior National Championships in Orlando, Fla.


Sports Performance 18 Elite won the national championship in the 18 Open division of the 2013 AAU Girls' Junior National Championships at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Wednesday, defeating Asics KIVA 18 Red 25-14, 25-13 in the finals.

SPVB 18 Elite finished 12-0 and did not drop a set during the four-day tournament. The Aurora girls ousted Asics Munciana Samurai 25-12, 25-22 in the semfinals, only the third time they allowed more than 20 points in a game during their Florida run.

"This was an outstanding group to work with all year long," said Sports Performance director and SPVB 18 Elite coach Rick Butler. "They were focused from the first day of practice until the last point in the championship match.

"I cannot give them enough praise for the job they did this year, especially the four seniors (Lauren Carlini, Alysia Baznik, Sammy Condon and Katie Baki), who were the best leaders and role models a coach could ever ask for," Butler added.

SPVB 18 Elite finished the season 91-4 including a 48-match win streak to end the season. Sports Performance dropped only two sets (96-2) during that streak.

In a championship bracket feed-in, 1st Alliance 18 Silver dropped a heartbreaking 21-25, 25-17, 18-16 decision to Dead Frog DFFO 18 to finish 7-3. 1st Alliance 18 Silver was powered by Hanna Lee, Ciara Hill and Mallory Salis.

In the 17s, top-seeded Fusion 17 Black (12-0) claimed the AAU national title with a 25-18, 25-22 victory over Academy Volleyball Cleveland. Fusion 17 Black had a scare in the quarterfinals from Alamo 17 Kaepa Premier before escaping 22-25, 25-19, 15-11.

Fusion, whch also won an AAU title as 16 year olds, was led by a trio of Penn States recruits including Richmond-Burton's Ali Frantti, Bryanna Weiskircher and Simone Lee.

Previously once-beaten Sports Performance 17 Mizuno lost to Asics Munciana Aztecs in a championship bracket feed-in, 25-19, 22-25, 15-13.

Legacy 16-1 won the 16 Open division, 25-17, 25-27, 15-10 over Mizuno Northern Lights. Sports Performance 16 Elite lost to AVOLI 16 Enrique, 25-20, 28-26, in the quarterfinals,

Sports Performance captured its second AAU Open-division national championship of 2013 on Wednesday when SPVB 15 Elite overcame a one-set deficit to defeat Mizuno Northern Lights, 15-25, 25-16, 15-12.

SPVB 15 Elite was powered by outsides Molly Haggerty and Allie Lindroth and setter Mackenzie Welsh.


***

Minooka girls volleyball coach Chris Hoelscher is hosting a one-day Summer Scrimmage on Friday, July 12 at Minooka's Central Campus, 301 S. Wabena in Minooka.

Twelve teams are participating in the scrimmage, which begins at 8:00 a.m.

"My goal is to provide an opportunity to play without committing to a league or feeling pressure to win a tournament," Hoelscher said.

Pool 1 includes (1) Minooka, (2) Rock Falls, (3) Joliet Central and (4) Rosary. Pool 2 features (1) Plainfield Central, (2) Jones Prep, (3) Joliet West and (4) St. Charles East. Pool 3 includes (1) Plainfield South, (2) Bolingbrook, (3) Chicago Christian and (4) Hinsdale South.

The schedule is as follows: Round 1, 1 vs. 3 and 2 vs. 4; Round 2, 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3; and Round 3, 3 vs. 4 and 1 vs. 2.

***

Volleyball magazine recently announced its Fab 50 list for boys volleyball, The Fab 50 was voted on by a panel of NCAA Division I-II men's college coaches. Among the selections was Providence's 6-foot-6 senior middle blocker Brendan Surane (Ultimate), who is headed to Ball State in the fall.

Volleyball magazine also released its list of "25 Underclassmen to Watch." Among the selections were St. Francis' 6-7 junior Jeff Jendryk (Sports Performance), Marist's 6-7 junior Matt Munro (Ultimate) and Mt. Carmel's 6-10 junior middle blocker Matt Walsh (Ultimate).

***

Bob St. Leger is on the move again.

The former Marist coach, who guided Wheaton North to a 25-9 record in 2013, is leaving after one year to take the reins at Homewood-Flossmoor.

St. Leger moved to Wheaton North from Marist, where he led the RedHawks to a 172-49 record from 2007 through 2012 that included four regional championships, two state quarterfinals appearances and a state title in 2010.

Homewood-Flossmoor last qualified for the state tournament in 1994 when it finished 24-13 and in fourth place under Katherine McKinnon. The Vikings lost to Oak Park in the third-place match, 15-13, 11-15, 16-14.

***

West Aurora graduate Lauren Carlini was featured in the latest issue of Varsity, the Official Online Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics. The four-page spread by Mike Lucas, titled "Starting at the Top," discussed the expectations placed on the nation's No. 1 recruit.

Thumbnail image for fricano.jpgPalatine's Taylor Fricano is part of Wisconsin's recruiting class, ranked No. 4 in the nation by John Tawa of Prepvolleyball.com.


Take a pair of twins from Papillion, Nebraska, the winner of the Andi Collins Award as the nation's best senior setter, and a 6-foot-2 senior transfer from Wheaton St. Francis by way of Tennessee and what do you get?

The nation's top recruiting class, according to John Tawa at Prepvolleyball.com.

Nebraska, which was decimated this spring by graduation, won't get any sympathy after landing Amber and Kadie Rolfzen - 6-3 twins who lost one match their last three years in high school - and former St. Francis star Kelsey Robinson, who opted out of Tennessee for her final year of NCAA eligibility.

Nebraska also landed 6-3 middle Kira Larson from Fargo, North Dakota, and Robinson's setter at Tennessee, Mary Pollmiller.

Players from Illinois were also part of four other top 30 recruiting classes, according to Tawa - No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 12 Virginia, No. 20 Illinois and No. 25 Michigan.

Sun-Times Player of the Year Lauren Carlini of West Aurora alone is worthy of a top 10 nod, but Wisconsin also landed a couple of other blue-chippers in 6-3 Taylor Fricano from Palatine, 6-2 Tori Blake from Midland, Michigan and 6-4 middle Haleigh Nelson of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Hinsdale Central's 6-2 setter Meghan McDowell and 5-7 defensive whiz Alexa Riccolo of St. Francis are part of a great recruiting class at Virginia, the first under new coach and former Penn State assistant Dennis Hohenshelt.

Not to be beaten out from out-of-state competition, Illinois landed Bloomington Central Catholic libero Danielle Davis, 5-8 setter McKenna Kelsay from St. Francis and 6-2 outside Katie Roustio from O'Fallon. Katie Stadick, a 6-2 middle from Watertown, Wisconsin, and 6-1 outside Michelle Strizak from Cincinnati, Ohio, round out the class.

Setter Cindy Zhou led Libertyville to a fourth-place finish in Class 4A last fall, and she'll hope to work her magic at Michigan beginning this fall. Zhou should get immediate help from a pair of twin towers in 6-4 middle Gabbie Bulic from Brunswick, Ohio, and 6-5 middle Abby Cole from Grand Haven, Michigan.

Among recruiting classes rated highest honorable mention, Hersey's 5-6 defensive specialist Taylor Schill is part of a touted class at Auburn, 6-foot middle Shannon Nugent of Vernon Hills is part of a huge class at Emory, and Wauconda setter Megan Tallman is making her way to Indiana.

Marquette landed Benet defensive specialist Nicki Barnes, Northwestern got Glenbard West's 5-10 setter Caleigh Ryan, Oakland (Michigan) got a pair of good ones in Naperville Central's 6-1 Samantha Condon and York's 5-10 outside Melissa Deatsch, and Ohio snared Marist's Mallory Salis.

Among recruiting classes rated high honorable mention, Freeburg's 6-3 middle Kelsey Reis is headed to Arkansas State, 6-0 middle Rachel Jones of Champaign Centennial is staying close to home at Bradley, and St. Ignatius' 6-1 Camille Evans will join a stellar cast of newcomers at Connecticut.

Also, Joliet Catholic's Morgan Reardon is one reason Loyola is bringing in a solid recruiting class, 6-3 Elyse Panick of Marist joins four other newcomers at Marshall, and Providence setter Krista Brakauskas should help Miami of Ohio.

Libero Sheila Doyle was part of two state championship teams at Benet and hopes to wield her spell at North Carolina, Hersey's setter Abby Fesl will provide a big boost to North Florida's women's volleyball program, and Benet's 5-11 outside Cara Mattaliano will join a championship class at Princeton.

Purdue nabbed Metea Valley defensive specialist Alyssa Ensminger and 6-3 middle Lauren Cloyd from Champaign Centennial, St. Louis got Belleville Althoff setter Ashley Gagen, and South Florida just got a whole lot better with a class headed by Sandburg's 6-foot outside Dakota Hampton.

Xavier landed Mackenzi Humm, a 5-11 setter from Prairie Ridge, and all hail Yale for snagging New Trier's 6-foot outside hitter Brittani Steinberg, among others.

***

Congratulations to Sports Performance 18 Elite for winning the Pre-National tournament June 8-9 at the Great Lakes Central in Aurora. Team members included Annika Albrecht, Katherine Baki, Alysia Baznik, Lauren Carlini, Samantha Condon, Katlyn Federico, Maddie Haggerty, Ashley Hitchcock, Ellie Ivancich and Brittany Pavich.

Coach Steve Williams led Fusion Black to the 17 Open title. Team members included Sydney Doby, Samantha Dubiel, Alexandra Frantti, Olivia Kofie, Taylor Krage, Simone Lee, Mackenzie Long, Kaitlyn Olson, Brianna Syewart and Bryanna Wesikircher.

SPVB 18 Elite and Fusion 17 Black also won titles in their respective divisions at the National Junior Classic two weeks earlier.

1st Alliance Silver finished second in the 16 Open division, losing to Northern Kentucky Volleyball Club 8-25, 25-20, 15-10 in the finals, while Sports Performance 15 Elite won the 15 Open division by beating Circle City 25-22, 16-25, 15-12 in the title match.

***

Four players from Sports Performance were named to the 2013 Junior Volleyball Association All-National Team, which recognizes the top JVA players in the nation for outstanding achievement on the volleyball court.

The four are Molly Haggerty (15s age division), Rachel Minarick (17s age division), and Lauren Carlini and Maddie Haggerty (18s age division).

jendryk decision.jpgSt. Francis' 6-foot-7 junior Jeff Jendryk has decided to play his college ball at Loyola.


Here's a glance at some (emphasis on some, not all) of the boys volleyball teams that could be good in 2014 (players' years are 2013 classifications):

1. Lincoln-Way East (35-4) - Sun-Times Player of the Year Austin Royer returns -- as does everybody but backup setter Tommy Piet - as the Griffins will try to make another run at state. Also returning are outsides Nate Van Dellen and Ryan Vorderer, and probably a healthier Josh Phalen, whose late-season injury was devastating.

2. Lincoln-Way North (37-4) - Like the mythical bird, the Phoenix will rise from the ashes of their state final loss to Downers South. They will still have probably the best 1-2 outside punch in the state in Jake Walenga and Brad McFarland and a physical middle in Ken Christensen, but replacing libero Zach Blasgen may be the most difficult task.

3. Deerfield (32-7) - Nobody thought much of it when Deerfield and Downers Grove South went three sets in the quarterfinals. Every quarterfinal went three sets. But that was as close as anyone got to Downers South. The Warriors should make another strong push in 2014 with junior outsides Zach Hara and John Harlan.

4. Wheaton Warrenville South (18-20) - Unlike 2012, the Tigers didn't turn over the entire roster at season's end, and you have to like what WW South has coming back in 6-6 junior outside Jared Wilcox, 6-5 sophomore Logan Wiese, 6-4 freshman Zack Meyer and sophomore libero John Hildebrand. Now the Tigers just need to find a setter.

5. Waubonsie Valley (14-21) - A top five team until Michael Simmons and Luke Furman went down with injuries. Simmons came back and got the Warriors to the sectional semifinals and could again in 2014 with help from junior middle Connor Douville, junior outside Tim Williams, libero Andrew Salmon and freshman setter Jake Furman.

6. Lake Park (25-13) - With every player on the roster returning save one (Dillon Hock) from a sectional finalist, Tim Murphy's troops will be tough to handle next season. Among the best of a huge junior class are setter Quin Krisik, 6-5 middles Sean Moore and Derek Burke, 6-3 opposite Shawn Fritsche and 6-2 outside Dominick Terry.

7. Vernon Hills (32-7) - All of the key players return for coach Chris Curry and the Cougars, including 6-4 junior setter Ryan Opitz, 6-2 junior outside Michael Heinz and sophomores Max Spiglanin and 6-5 Lem Turner, the latter virtually coming out of nowhere down the stretch to lead Vernon Hills to the sectional finals.

8. St. Francis (26-10) - The Spartans were stung by Michael Simmons and Waubonsie Valley in the regional and have some holes to fill. But Mike Lynch does welcome back three exceptional juniors in setter Robert Smith, outside Greg Churney and 6-7 middle Jeff Jendryk. Junior Grant Garvey could play a bigger role next season.

9. Downers Grove South (31-10) - Six-foot-6 sophomore Will Tischler will return, as will setter Jordan Pawlicki and outside Mike Schmitt. But the Mustangs will have plenty of holes to fill with the loss of libero David DeMarco and middles Nick Timreck and Austin Adank. Look for Tyler Zawaski to inherit the off-color jersey.

10. Brother Rice (28-10) - It took a while for the Crusaders to get it going and then they were battling some health issues down the stretch, but with juniors Mitch Weiler, Kevin Myren and Matt Mandernach leading the way next year, they should have enough firepower at the very least to keep the Lincoln-Ways honest.

11. Loyola (31-7) - The Ramblers fell into a funk at the Maine South tournament - losing to Hersey and Palatine - from which they never seemed to fully recover. They lose setter James McCabe and outside Sean Barry, but bring back 6-7 Sun-Times all-area selection David Wieczorek, libero Collin Merk and 6-6 sophomore middle Jakub Mazurek

12. Glenbrook South (26-12-2) - Will Koslozki and Matt Kaiser leave some big shoes to fill, but the Titans have some big feet to replace them in 6-6 sophomore Pawel Rafalo, 6-7 junior Anthony Lebryk, and 6-2 outside Jake Carr. Glenbrook South's road to Hoffman Estates could go through Loyola Academy again.

13. Benet (25-11) - Amy Van Eekeren's Redwings will be a force to reckon with despite the loss of East Suburban Catholic Conference MVP Sawyer Yeazel. Freshman setter Ben Mazza will have a year of experience and won't have to look far to find some go-to guys in 6-9 Ricky Gevis, 6-4 middle Garrett Metzger and sophomore outside Scott Kleiser.

14. Glenbard West (27-10) - Downers South's run to a state title began with a 23-25, 25-20, 25-13 win over the Hilltoppers in the regional final. Gone are Johnny Davis and Jacob Stone, but coach Christine Giunta will reload with juniors Alec Garwood, Andrew Roberts and Galen Horvath and sophomores Jackson Nagle and Parker Swartz.

15. Hersey (20-18) - Sometimes good, sometimes not, Hersey finished at .500 in the Mid-Suburban East but took out Glenbrook North in the regional final. Six-foot-5 sophomore Bart Migus, 6-4 junior setter Matt Torvik, 6-7 junior middle Mike Fuerst and 6-3 junior Matt Aguilar could lead the Huskies back to state for the first time since 2005.

16. Minooka (36-3) - Is Minooka's run at the top of the southwest heap coming to an end? A healthy Justin Toth and outsides Mason Novak, Mitch Perinar and freshman Brandon Baranski give coach Janel Grzetich something to build on. But the loss of setter Phil Hannon's leadership and middle Maalik Walker's athleticism and energy are severe.

17. Barrington (28-9) - The Mid-Suburban West co-champs lost to Deerfield 25-15, 22-25, 26-24 in the sectional semifinals. Don't be surprised if the two tangle again next year. Back are setters Noah Richetti and Tommy Soifer, 6-3 outside Connor Wright, outsides Adam (6-3) and Justin (6-4) Glader and 6-4 middle Colin Castagna.

18. Lyons (31-4) - The Lions lost a lot to graduation - leading attacker Kyle Smuda, outside Clayton Smentek, Aidan Spangler, 6-9 middle Gabe Fisher -but return one of the best setters in the state in Marko Kostich. Who will he set? Maybe Rob Watkins and Michael Dean. Or maybe somebody will set Kostich?

19. Payton (28-8) - Junior Earl Schultz and company should have one more run at that elusive first win at state. Joining Schultz (267 kills, 237 digs this year) next season will be outside Alex Brown, setter Lincoln Wang and middle Ryan Krull. Casey Feeney will need some help from his youngsters.

Other teams to watch: Elk Grove, Lake Forest, Morton, Naperville Central, Sandburg, Warren.

***

Former St. Francis star Kelsey Robinson will join the nation's top recruiting class and former Benet standout Meghan Haggerty and play for Nebraska in 2013. Robinson, who spent her first three seasons at Tennessee, was among four players granted their release to transfer.

Robinson was named a 2012 AVCA All-America honorable-mention selection and a first-team All-SEC pick. In 2011, she was named the SEC Player of the Year and was a 2011 AVCA Second-Team All-American and Volleyball Magazine Second-Team All-American.

Robinson recorded a career-high 29 kills against Iowa State on August 25, 2012. As a junior, she led the SEC with 22 double-doubles.

***

Former Sun-Times Player of the Year Kelly Murphy (Joliet Catholic, University of Florida), a four-time AVCA All-American, was named to the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team roster for the 2013 Pan American Cup contested this week in Lima, Peru.

Murphy is one of just two opposites included on the Team USA roster and one of just three making her debut wearing the U.S. jersey at the senior level. Team USA will look to defend its Pan American Cup title from 2012.

Team USA opens against Trinidad & Tobago on June 10, followed by Puerto Rico on June 11 and Argentina on Jun 12. All three pool matches are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. PT.

grzetich.jpgMinooka's Janel Grzetich would favor a system that would not force the best teams to play each other in a state quarterfinal.


The state finals sometimes produce some amazing statistics. For example, Lincoln-Way North's Jake Walenga had 26 kills in a 25-21, 24-26, 26-24 victory over Minooka in the boys state basketball tournament quarterfinal Friday.

That number is impressive. But what was even more staggering was that Walenga had 59 attempts (and seven errors for a .322 percentage). That was more than half of his team's attempts.

On the other side of the court, Minooka's 6-6 Maalik Walker, who is going to Division II McKendree University next fall, showed why he is one of the more underappreciated middles around. Walker finished with 10 kills on just 17 attempts with just one error for a .529 percentage.

Overall, Minooka hit .321 compared to LW North's .294. So what did Minooka in? Nine service errors (compared to two for LW North), and the incessant cry of "Minooka in the net" from the Hoffman Estates P.A. announcer.

***

Too much Timreck.

Downers Grove South's Nick Timreck, who will help establish the men's volleyball program at Dominican University in River Forest as part of the school's first recruiting class next fall, certainly flashed some pretty impressive numbers at the state finals last weekend.

In the Mustangs' opening win against Deerfield, Timreck had 10 kills in 17 attempts with two errors for a .471 percentage. He was needed less in the Mustangs' win over St. Charles North, finishing with just six kills (11 attempts, two errors for a .364 percentage).

However, the 6-foot-6 senior stepped up huge - literally and figuratively - against Lincoln-Way North, finishing with 11 kills in 15 attempts with just one error (wide right) for a staggering .667 percentage.

But that was not even the best effort on the team against the Phoenix. Junior outside Mike Schmitt was 10 of 13 with no errors for a .769 percentage!

***

OK, folks down in Bloomington, if you're not going to distribute teams across Chicago so that sectionals like Proviso West and Andrew and Niles West are not ridiculously loaded every year, why not at least seed the state finals so the best teams aren't playing each other in the first round.

In football, the IHSA used records to determine seeds. If that method was employed in the final eight at state volleyball, at least that would be fairer than to have two of the best teams in the state meet in a quarterfinal.

If seeded by record, this year's pairings would have looked like this:

No. 1 Minooka vs. No. 8 Oak Park
No. 4 St. Charles North vs. No. 5 Payton
No. 3 Deerfield vs. No. 6 Downers South
No. 2 Lincoln-Way North vs. No. 7 Glenbrook South

Ironically, Deerfield, the only team to take Downers South to three sets at Hoffman Estates, still would have faced the Mustangs in a quarterfinal, and Lincoln-Way North and Glenbrook South, which met in a semifinal, would have squared off in a quarterfinal.

In 2012, the field would have looked like this:

No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South vs. No. 8 St. Rita
No. 4 Barrington vs. No. 5 Lake Park
No. 3 Glenbrook North vs. No. 6 Payton
No. 2 Minooka vs. No. 7 Brother Rice

Barrington and Lake Park did meet in a quarterfinal, and the semifinals would have turned out the same way they actually did with WW South and Barrington meeting in one semifinal and Glenbrook North and Minooka meeting in the other.

***

What do Downers Grove North, Minooka, Barrington, Sandburg, Lyons, Neuqua Valley, Naperville North, Lincoln-Way East, New Trier and Lake Park have in common?

They all beat Downers Grove South this season.

***

Among the teams that were left behind this year - partly due to the geographical nature of the beast - were Lincoln-Way East (35-4), Loyola (31-7), New Trier (30-7), Neuqua Valley (32-6), Lyons (31-4), Glenbrook North (30-6), Stevenson (31-5), Brother Rice (28-10), Sandburg (30-8) and Vernon Hills (32-7).

***

The Chicago Catholic League named its all-conference team recently.

All-conference selections in the Blue Division included junior libero Dave Kelly, junior outside Mitch Weiler, junior right side Kevin Myren, senior outside Andrew Wilkison and senior middle hitter Ryan Paull from Brother Rice.

Also, senior outside Sean Barry, senior middle Kevin Webster, senior setter/right side James McCabe, junior outside David Wieczorek, and junior libero Collin Merk from Loyola; and senior outside Kevin Banky, senior right side Dan O'Keefe, senior setter Thomas McDermott and senior outside Billy White from St. Rita.

Also, junior middle Tim Doughney, senior middle/outside Brendan Surane and senior outside Matt Martensen from Providence; senior setter Bill Barry, junior middle Matt Walsh and senior libero Dominic Villa from Mt. Carmel; and senior outside Billy Langhenry, senior libero Creighton Pyles and junior outside Michael Knight of St. Ignatius.

St. Rita's Dan O'Keefe and Mt. Carmel's Dominic Villa were named co-winners of the Tony Lawless Award for the most outstanding player in the division and Loyola's Dan Ebeling was named the most outstanding coach.

Named all-conference selections in the White Division were sophomore setter Ben Colletti, senior outside Frank Scalise and senior middle Justin Earls of DeLaSalle; and senior outside George Cokinis, junior setter Joey McCauley and senior middle Scotty Gruszka of Fenwick.

Also, senior libero Jason Padilla and junior outside Yuriy Adaskevych of St. Joseph; sophomore outside Alex Miller of St. Laurence; and senior middle Samuel Rarick of Gordon Tech.

Fenwick's George Cokinis was named the recipient of the Tony Lawless Award for the outstanding player in the division and DeLaSalle's Mike Dieter was named the division's outstanding coach.

***

Critics may think the IHSA's decisions are pretty much black and white, but boys and girls volleyball are going red, white and blue next year.

Baden will supply the VX5EC-210 Red, White and Blue volleyball to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for the post-season of the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

"The multi-colored ball has been long discussed by coaches and officials around the state," said Stacey Lambert, IHSA assistant executive director of the IHSA. "It seems now is the right time for the adoption of the multi-colored ball."

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