To almost no one's surprise, AAU National Champion Sports Performance 18 Elite, led by Gatorade Player of the Year Lauren Carlini (West Aurora, Wisconsin), was named the No. 1 team in the nation among 18s by John Tawa of PrepVolleyball.com.
"It's an honor to be chosen as the No. 1 team by PrepVolleyball.com," said Sports Performance coach and club director Rick Butler. "I can't say enough about how proud I am of the work the kids did and the sacrifices that were made to not only win the AAU championship, but to also put them in a position to even be considered as the No. 1 team in the country."
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.
The Aurora club was selected ahead of USAV national champion Texas Advantage (TAV) 18 Black. Pre-season No. 1 Laguna finished a distant 19th.
"I know the Texas Advantage 18 Black team is a great team as well, so we feel very fortunate to have been chosen ahead of them," Butler said. "Congratulations to them on a gold medal at the USAV Junior National Championships."
In addition to Carlini, SPVB 18 Elite team members included defensive specialist Katie Baki, outside hitter Alysia Baznik, middle hitter Samantha Condon, outside hitter Annika Albrecht, outside hitter Ashley Hitchcock, setter Kate Federico, outside hitter Maddie Haggerty, defensive specialist Ellie Ivancich and middle hitter Brittany Pavich.
Albrecht, Hitchcock, Federico, Haggerty, Icvancich and Pavich are only juniors.
Missed the action? You can watch some of the AAU Junior Nationals championship matches by clicking the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg6SiHj7xLI
Three area players, including two who will return for the 2013 season, have been named to Prepvolleyball.com's "Dandy Lions" list.
The players on this list are all-around high school or club players who project as back row specialists at the next level. Prepvolleyball.com named five teams of 12 with everyone else receiving honorable mention recognition.
Players were nominated by high school coaches and club directors. Each player had to be generally considered among the best 10 defensive players in her state regardless of class year or school classification.
Named to Prepvolleyball.com's "Dandy Lions" list were:
Mallory Salis (Marist, Senior) - A first-team Sun-Times All-Area selection, Salis was named to the first team of "Dandy Lions" by Prepvolleyball.com. Salis slammed 311 kills, contributed 77 aces and dug up 349 balls for the RedHawks last fall. Salis is expected to have a chance to attack for Ohio University, where she will play this fall, but most likely be a libero for the Bobcats.
Ryann DeJarld (Mother McAuley, Sophomore) - A second-team "Dandy Lion," DeJarld racked up 387 digs, 200 kills, 42 aces and 30 blocks as a six-rotation outside hitter for McAuley. She is being recruited as a libero in college and is deciding between a number of Division I schools. "What sets Ryann apart from most is her leadership skills," McAuley coach Jen DeJarld said. "She sets the tone for her team and leads by example."
Delaney D'Amore (IC Catholic Prep, Junior) - D'Amore led IC Catholic Prep with 379 digs (4.68 per set) and 308 serve receptions (94 percent passing). She also topped the team in passer rating at 2.25. She also had 301 kills and 27 aces for the Knights, who lost to Nazareth 25-13, 25-18 in the regional finals. "You can put Delaney anywhere on the court and she will do a great job for the team," IC coach Jean Field said. "If you needed her to be a middle blocker or a setter for the team she could do it and do it well."
Remember Mike Bolhuis?
Bolhuis was the 19-year-old Illinois State University junior who led Deer Creek-Mackinaw to a 38-1 record and the Illinois High School Association Class 2A state title last fall with a 25-23, 25-21 victory over junior Sarah Thompson and the Dakota Indians.
Like his predecessors, Bolhuis' coaching career at Dee-Mack was short-lived.
The school recently named Brandon Mueller its new head coach. Mueller is a Bartlett native who played collegiate volleyball at Springfield College in Massachusetts before spending time playing overseas and coaching club ball at Illini Elite in Bloomington.
Mueller could become the second head coach in two years to win a state title at Dee-Mack. The Chiefs return leading attackers Lauren Anderson (330 kills in 2012), Kyleigh Block (230 kills) and Beth Michna and defensive specialist Jessey Lee (343 digs).
Prepvolleyball.com released its inaugural Club Volleyball All-American list honoring the top players in the country during the 2013 club season.
The 18s selections included Sports Performance 18 Elite setter Lauren Carlini of West Aurora (first team) and her SPVB teammates Maddie Haggerty of Benet (third team) and Alysia Baznik of Naperville Central (honorable mention).
The 17s selections included Fusion 17 Black's Bryanna Weiskircher of Rockford Boylan and Ali Franti of Richmond-Burton (first team). Honorable mentions included Fusion 17 Black's Simone Lee of Menomonee Falls (Wis.) and 1st Alliance 17 Silver's Katherine Mahlke of Downers Grove North.
1st Alliance 16 Silver setter Hannah Juley of Lyons and middle Symone Speech of Oak Park were third-team selections among the 16s, where their teammate Julia Saunders of Nazareth Academy was an honorable mention pick.
The 15s Prepvolleyball.com All-Americans included SPVB 15 Elite's Molly Haggerty of St. Francis (first team), Tiffany Clark of Benet (third team) and Allie Lindroth of Plainfield North (honorable mention).
Go to http://www.prepvolleyball.com/ for the complete list.