By Pat Brozynski

August 2013 Archives

Copy of DGS 2013.jpgDowners Grove South, which won three state titles and finished second four times between 1992 and 2002, is seeking to return to the form it flashed when it was one of the dominant girls volleyball powers in Illinois.

This time, it was Benet's Caroline Wolf.

Wolf, a senior libero who played in the formidable shadow of Sun-Times All-Area selection Sheila Doyle for the 2012 state champions, was named MVP of last weekend's eight-team tournament hosted and won by the Redwings. Doyle was twice named a tournament MVP as a senior.

Also named to the all-tournament team were senior outside hitter Whitney Battoe and junior middle Rachael Fara of Benet; and senior outside hitter Amy Nosek, sophomore libero Halle Truett and senior outside hitter Claudia Zerdin of York.

Also, senior setter Rachael Minarick and junior outside hitter Becky Breuer of Waubonsie Valley; senior outside hitter Kayln Hugdahl and senior libero Jessica Mitchel of Neuqua Valley; sophomore libero Haley Sullivan of Lemont; and junior outside hitter Lauren Fuller of Hinsdale Central.

Named to the all-tournament team at Plainfield North were Sydney Wohlert and Taylor Krage of St. Charles North, Ellie Ivancich and Emily Mankowski of Naperville North, and Kate Federico and Dakota Santore of Plainfield North.

Also selected were Rachel Kristen of Huntley, Carly Nolan of Crystal Lake South, Annie Cummings of Providence, Casey Zimmerman of Lincoln-Way North, Amber Clay of Marian Catholic and Sami Knight of Carl Sandburg.

Montini, which surprised Glenbard West 25-17, 25-18 to win the championship of the Wheaton North tournament, had three players named to the all-tournament team including MVP Monica Loftus. Also named from Montini were Joyce Balash and Bridget Lucas.

Also named to the all-tournament team at Wheaton North were Alex Lambros of Oak Forest, Nicolette Crowley of Romeoville, Olivia Kofie of Elgin Larkin, Alaina Murphy of Buffalo Grove, Baylee Panfil of Andrew, Jenny Lubic of Kaneland, Lexi Mantas of Stagg and Mary Cleary of St. Viator.

Also, Erica Walker and Grace Tiesman of Wheaton North, Tarah Valdez and Mackenzie Watterson of Glenbard South, and Meg Demaar and Natalie Schilling of Glenbard West.

***

There are a number of good tournaments on tap this weekend - the New Trier Summer's End tournament, the Early Bird hosted by Conant and Fremd - but perhaps the best tournament in Illinois this weekend takes place 300 miles southwest of Chicago.

Edwardsville's 2013 Tiger Classic Volleyball Tournament - not to be confused with the Tiger Classic hosted by Wheaton Warrenville South - brings together some of the best teams in the St. Louis area and Chicago's only entry, Minooka.

The 16-team field includes the host Tigers, Breese Mater Dei, Bloomington, Marquette (Chesterfield, Mo.), Freeburg, Decatur St. Teresa and Carlinville. Edwardsville is seeded No. 1with Minooka ranked No. 6 in the field.

***

PrepVolleyball.com has been releasing its Senior Aces list, the top 250 volleyball recruits in the Class of 2014, over the past several days. The list includes a handful of seniors from Illinois, including:

42. Adeja Lambert, 6-foot-2 outside hitter, Keith Country Day (Michigan)

"Lambert brings great size and effortless athleticism to the outside hitter position," said Prepvolleyball.com guru John Tawa. "With focus and fire, she could become an All-American with the Maize and Blue at Michigan."

43. Taylor Louis, 6-foot-2 outside hitter, Niles North (Marquette)

"Louis is a smooth attacker with a sinewy build, long wing span and powerful swing," Tawa said. "Crazy athletic, she plays high and physical at the net and has a knack for blocking on the right or left side. With a keen defensive sense, Louis is truly a player with the ability to do it all."

54. Haley Fauntleroy, 6-foot-4 middle blocker, New Trier (Virginia)

"Fauntleroy has a great frame for volleyball and is a game changer, whether she is blocking shots from the middle or dominating on attack from the right side. She has the ability to hit the quick in front of the setter and is very good off of one foot behind her.

63. Kelli Bates, 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Bradley-Bourbonnais (Wisconsin)

"Bates is a gifted athlete with a great jump, quick arm, great instincts, speed and fast reflexes<" Tawa said. "She plays offense and defense equally well at a high level. Her knowledge of the game and her court vision, however, are what set her apart."

65. Annika Albrecht, 6-foot-1 outside hitter, home schooled (Uncommitted)

"She is a once in a lifetime kid to coach," said Plainfield Central coach Erik Vogt, who has coached her at Sports Performance. "What she lacks in God-given ability she more than makes up for with hard work and dedication."

68. Katherine Mahlke, 6-foot-1 rightside, Downers Grove North (Michigan)

"Mahlke understands how to penetrate the net as well as how to read her opponent's attack line," Tawa said. "Mahlke hits a solid jump float serve and can play all six rotations due to her serve reception ability, her defense and her back-row attack."

Just missing the top 100 were: Kate Federico, a 5-foot-10 setter from Plainfield North (Clemson), and Brittany Pavich, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker from Benet (Boston College).

***

No. 9 Crystal Lake South improved to 5-1 with a 25-13, 25-18 victory over Libertyville on Tuesday. The Gators jumped out to a 10-1 lead in Game One but Libertyville fought back in Game Two before falling to 2-2.

"I thought our serve receive struggled all night which made our offense very predictable," Libertyville coach Greg Loika said. "Though the defense tightened for us at the end, their size and power was more than we could match.

"The atmosphere was like postseason volleyball with a large crowd and a very hot gym," he added. "Matches against teams like this will pay off for our young team down the road."

Kate Jarecki led Libertyville with six kills, Rhiannon Prentiss added four kills and Alex Basler had three kills. Carly Ostmeyer added 10 digs and nine assists.

***

No. 7 St. Charles North improved to 8-0 with a 25-15, 25-9 win Tuesday against visiting Addison Trail. Taylor Krage had seven kills and three blocks, Claire Anderson added five kills and Emily Carroll had two kills and four blocks.

Sydney Wohlert had eight assists, Taryn Dal Degan had seven assists and Alex Seavey had five digs.

***

No. 10 Waubonsie Valley (5-1) defeated Hinsdale Central 25-19, 25-20 Tuesday despite nine kills by Red Devils' junior Lauren Fuller.

***

Downers Grove South is seeking a JV team for a quadrangular on Saturday, October 12. For more information, contact Trisha Kurth at tkurth@csd99.org.


rakers.jpgFormer Breese Mater Dei volleyball coach (left) Fred Rakers, 68, was recently diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.


Our hearts and prayers go out to Fred Rakers, the former Breese Mater Dei coach whose teams won six state championships and more than 1,000 matches. Rakers is fighting stage four adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that originates in the glandular tissue.

Doctors told Rakers' family recently that cancer was found in the 68-year-old's lungs, brain and spine.

Rakers retired as head coach in 2010 after his team went 41-1 and won the first of back-to-back state championships. He retired from teaching after 45 years but remained on staff as his son Chad's assistant coach for another state title run.

Rakers began Mater Dei's volleyball program in 1975. The Knights won state titles in 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2010. His teams won 14 state trophies, finishing second once with three third-place finishes and three fourths. The Knights also won 24 regionals, 21 sectionals and 20 supersectionals.

The team plans to honor Rakers' at its home opener August 27.

***

Mother McAuley and St. Francis were ranked No. 2 and No. 6 in the country by Prepvolleyball.com when it announced its 2013 Century Club Pre-Season National High School rankings last week.

Mother McAuley, which is seeking its first state title since 2004, lost to New Trier 16-25, 25-22, 25-19 in a 2012 Class 4A semifinal on its way to a 36-5 record and third-place finish but is loaded with every key performer returning, including five players who started as sophomores.

"I believe we will have one of our strongest seasons to date," said head coach Jen DeJarld. "I'm expecting to do some big things this season."

Among the players returning are setter and Western Illinois recruit Courtney Joyce, junior outside Ryann DeJarld, 5-6 junior outside Kennedy Arundel, 5-7 junior libero Carla Cahill, 5-11 junior middle Kelsey Clark, 6-0 senior middle Gabby Ennis and 5-9 junior rightside Maggie Scanlon.

"It should be fun," DeJarld said.

Circle August 30 on your calendar. That's when McAuley visits defending Class 3A state champion St. Francis. Spartans' Peg Kopec will seek her 10th state title behind 6-1 senior AAU All-American and Nebraska recruit Maddie Haggerty and 6-1 AAU All-American sophomore Molly Haggerty.

The supporting cast that includes Florida-bound libero Sam Dubiel, 5-10 setter/middle blocker Becca Shearer and 6-1 junior middle/rightside Mary Boken. Other players who figure in the mix include senior setter/libero Natalie Murison, sophomore setter Dani Messer and 5-11 freshman rightside Kamryn Molloy.

"This is a very talented team, but young," Kopec said. "No team is without weak areas. This is certainly one of the best St. Francis teams on paper. However it is quite difficult to compare different decades since the skill level and rules have changes dramatically."

Plainfield North was ranked No. 53 by Prepvolleyball.com. The Tigers are led by 5-9 outside hitter Dakota Santore, 5-10 setter and Clemson recruit Katie Federico, 6-1 junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Fisher, 6-0 sophomore middle Lauren Robeck and 6-2 sophomore outside hitter Allie Lindroth.

Two-time defending Class 4A champion Benet checks in at No. 71. The Redwings boast a pair of powerful middles in 6-2 senior Brittany Pavich and 6-2 junior Rachael Fara, and also have 5-6 libero Caroline Wolf, 5-10 outside Ashley Hitchcock, 5-11 outside Whitney Battoe and 5-8 Penn state recruit Natalie Canulli.

Standout Brittani Steinberg is gone from last year's 4A runner-up, but New Trier still has 6-foot setter Taylor Tashima, 6-3 middle blocker Haley Fauntleroy, libero Emmy Friedler, rightside Abbey Boyd and 6-4 junior middle Sarah Shafiq. The Trevians are ranked no. 72 by Prepvolleyball.com.

Among the teams receiving mention were Crystal Lake South, Edwardsville, Hersey, Huntley, Joliet Catholic, Lake Zurich, Lyons, Marist, Naperville North, Nazareth, St. Charles East and Waubonsie Valley.

Since 2003, PrepVolleyball.com is the nation's only website devoted exclusively to covering the girls' game, both high school and club, from a national perspective.

***

In girls' basketball, Montini's 5-10 senior guard Sara Ross, who averaged 7 points and 3 assists for last year's Class 3A third-place finisher, recently committed to IUPUI (Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis, for the uninitiated).

"Sara had a huge June for us and had carried it over to July with her AAU team," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "She felt so comfortable with IUPUI, and that is why she committed early. I think it fits her perfectly and she could play right away."

Ross also considered University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois, Massachusetts, Kent State, Loyola and Toledo.

Kelly Karlis and Kateri Stone are still on the recruiting trail. Karlis recently visited Dayton and Bowling Green after an earlier trip to Wisconsin-Green Bay. Among the schools Stone is considering are Columbia, Cornell and University of Missouri-Kansas City.


youth nartional.jpgSt. Francis' Molly Haggerty and New Trier's Taylor Tashima will try to do for their respective high school teams what they did for the U.S. Youth National Team in Thailand -- bring home a medal.

reardon and feigh.jpgFormer Joliet Catholic teammates Kelly Feigh and Morgan Reardon are teammates on the Loyola University women's volleyball team. Feigh (right) is a 5-foot-11 sophomore outside hitter and defensive specialist. Reardon (left), a 2012 Sun-Times all-area selection, is a 6-1 outside hitter,


Rebecca Breuer and Rebecca Fortsch of Waubonsie Valley High School and Club 1 16 Red were among 60 student-athletes from across the country who were selected to receive the inaugural AAU Academic All American Award.

Created in 2013 by the AAU Volleyball National Executive Committee, the award recognizes athletes of the AAU Volleyball program for their excellence in academics as well as athletics.

All recipients participated in the 40th AAU Girls' Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando, Fla and were selected from nominations received during the event.

Also named Academic All American from Illinois were Abby Guddendorf of Yorkville and Illinois Heat 15 Black, Brooke Istvan of Hinsdale Central and Sports Performance 16 Blue, and Madison Lord of DeKalb and Club Fusion.

***

The Sun-Times Top 10 preseason teams and top 50 players lists will be released sometime next week, but here are 10 teams that were among those just outside the top 10 (in alphabetical order):

Bolingbrook - They've started something special in Bolingbrook. Last year. The Raiders won a school-record 22 matches including 11 in a row and walked home with the titles at Minooka and East Moline. Three starters graduated from that team, but coach Andrea Bercot had to be thrilled with her youngsters' performance after they finished second at the Great Lakes summer league. Krissa Gearring is no ordinrary youngster, however. The 5-8 senior outside hitter had 218 kills last season and figures to do more damage this fall. Also back from last year's 22-11-1 team are libero Leah Rose, senior middle Kennedi Hulittle and junior setter Nicole Gambon. Bercot hopes to get some help from junior outside Megan Beilawski, sophomore setter Jennilyn Cave and sophomore middle Julianna Wober. "Last year's team set the bar very high for the future Bolingbrook teams, but these girls are inspired by last year's team and want to build off that success," Bercot said.

Chicago Christian - A not-so-funny thing happened to Chicago Christian after winning the Class 2A title in 2010. The Knights got bumped up to 3A. Not surprisingly, last year's 23-16 season ended with a 25-22, 25-15 loss to eventual 3A champion St. Francis in the Palos Heights supersectional. It would also not be surprising to see Chicago Christian back in the supersectional again in 2013. Back from last year's Elite Eight team are 5-9 setter and four-year starter Emily Workman (940 assists, 103 kills, 50 aces in 2012), 5-11 outside hitter Jessica Krygsheld (292 kills, 38 blocks), 5-7 libero Maggie Cavanaugh (170 digs) and 5-10 junior Leah Kamp (119 kills, 85 blocks), Newcomers include 6-0 junior middle Anna Kamp, the last of the Kamp sisters, and 5-7 junior setter Samantha Kubik, an AAU All American. "We have some mice young talent joining the core group and should have another successful season," coach James Garcia said.

Huntley - The Red Raiders were a Class A powerhouse in the 1990s, reaching the state quarterfinals four consecutive years between 1994-1997 and finishing fourth twice, third and second. But after losing in the quarterfinals in 2001, Huntley barely sniffed Bloomington. That was supposed to change in 2010 when Huntley was 32-4 heading into the regional final, but the Red Raiders were stunned by DeKalb 25-22, 25-21. Huntley, under second-year coach Karen Liss, is looking to return to those glory years behind a group that went 17-11 in 2012 and won the Great Lakes summer league. Top players this year include 5-7 senior outside hitter Emily Westermyer, 5-8 senior outside Erin Lyman, 5-8 junior setter Kelsey Dewulf. 6-0 senior rightside Rachael Kisten and 5-5 senior libero Rachel Shores. Newcomers include 5-8 freshman outside hitter Ally Dion, younger sister of former Huntley great and 2011 Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection Amy Dion (Maryland), and 5-10 junior middle Erin Erb.

IC Prep - Bad news for Class 2A hopefuls. After spending a year in 3A and losing to Nazareth in the regional finals, IC Prep and 39-year veteran coach Jean Field are back in Class 2A. Not only are the Knights back, they are very, very good. Five players return from last year's 26-10 team that finished third in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue division that includes perennial state power St. Francis. Five-foot-10 senior setter/outside hitter Kimmy Martino (257 kills, 269 assists, 31 aces, 33 blocks in 2012) leads the Knights with help from 5-10 senior outside/middle hitter Delaney D'Amore (301 kills, 379 digs), 5-11 senior Rory Manion (204 kills, 195 digs), 5-5 junior defensive specialist Molly Manion and 5-8 junior outside Brianna Hernandez. "This team has very competitive athletes who have good team chemistry and a strong desire to be successful," Field said.

Lake Zurich - The Bears finished 24-13 one year ago after losing to Libertyville 21-25, 25-23 25-23 in the regional championship. Twelve players are back from that team including six of Lake Zurich's top seven players. The Bears are led by Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) recruit Kristen Walding, a 6-0 senior who has compiled back-to-back 1,000-assist seasons. "She is as talented of a setter as any in Illinois," coach Matt Aiello said. "She has complete control of our offense as well as designing our systems." Walding will spread the ball among 5-11 senior Mallory Parsons, an all-conference outside hitter, Duquesne recruit and 6-0 senior middle hitter Sydney Glover, junior Mickenzie Andrews and seniors Allie McIlwain and Kiley McPeek. "Our starters will be backed up by an extremely deep bench full of experience and talent," Aiello said. The Bears, who reached the supersectional before losing to Ellen Chapman and Glenbrook South in 2009, have never been downstate.

Lemont - Year after year after year, Lemont produces some of the best teams in the Chicago area. The problem? It's sort of a private issue. After taking out a very talented Plainfield North in the sectional semifinal last year, the Indians ran into a buzzsaw named Benet. The year before? Nazareth in a 3A regional final. Before that? Joliet Catholic in a 3A regional final. And so on and so on. "We are not able to reload like many other schools, but I feel we will be putting a stronger, more experienced lineup out on the floor this year," coach Chris Zogata said. "As always, we will produce a hard-working, well skilled team." Back from last year's 26-13 sectional finalist are Austin Peay recruit Kelly Ferguson, a 6-0 middle (173 kills, 88 blocks), 5-10 rightside Cara Howell (159 kills, 46 bocks), and a trio of solid defenders in 5-0 junior libero Haley Sullivan, 5-6 senior Jenna Walaszek and 5-6 junior Tess Cannon.

Lyons - The Lions feature one of the best young setters around in 5-11 junior Hannah Juley, whose older sister Erin was the setter on the 2010 state championship team. Nobody is talking state championship at Lyons this fall, but with another Juley at the helm, anything is possible." I believe we are certainly a team to watch, especially with such a highly recruited setter as Hannah Juley," Lyons coach Joann Pyritz said. Juley finished with 153 kills and 547 assists as a sophomore and has already verbally committed to Wisconsin. Outside of Juley, the Lions' strength is in the back row with junior libero Toni Saracco, who set a school record with 606 digs in 2012, and 5-5 sophomore defensive specialist Madison Babich. Hitters back from last year's 20-16 team are 6-0 junior middle Cori Hansen, 5-10 junior outside Jesse Skonning and 5-9 junior outside Ariah Palter. "We had a strong finish in 2012 before losing in the regional final (to St. Ignatius)," Pyritz said.

Naperville North - Somebody has always got in the way of Naperville North. Either it's a team like intown rival Naperville Central, which won state titles in 2005 and 2007, or its down the street rival Benet, which has won the last two. Is this the year Naperville North breaks through? "We welcome back a strong nucleus from a successful team from a year ago," said coach Jennnifer Urban, whose team finished 27-10 last year. "This will be one of the deepest teams Naperville North has had in many years." Top players for the Huskies are 5-foot-5 libero Ellie Ivancich (a Belmont recruit), 6-0 middle blocker Angela Jurek, 6-2 rightside Maddie Henry, 6-0 outside Emily Mankowski, 6-3 junior middle hitter Megan Wernette, 5-6 senior setter Sydney Cheatham and 5-8 junior setter Emily Kwak. Newcomers include 5-10 sophomore setter Jennifer Dore, 5-8 junior outside Jenna LaCorte and 5-10 senior outside Lexi Turek.

Sandburg - David Vales bid adieu to his top three hitters from a 29-9 team that lost to Mother McAuley ("What's new?" Vales said) 25-21, 23-25, 25-23 in the sectional - Dakota Hampton, Paige Bendell and Kristy Theisen. But the Eagles, who have averaged 29 wins per year since 2004, should get there again with 10 players back from a year ago, four of whom are in their third year of varsity play, including 5-8 junior setter extraordinaire Sami Knight. The other three third-year standouts are 5-9 senior rightside/outside hitter Bridget Lebert, 5-9 senior outside hitter Megan Hutchinson and 6-1 senior middle hitter Kelly Finlay. Three juniors who saw significant minutes as sophomores are 5-9 outside Julia Borschel, 5-11 rightside/setter Leah Lane and 5-11 middle Kathleen Bollito. "We won't wow you with offense," Vales said. "We'll bore you with defense."

Stevenson - The Patriots were surprised by Taylor Fricano and Palatine in the sectional semifinals a year ago, but return several key members of that 34-4 team . "We have some nice pieces from last season returning," coach Tim Crow said. "I also expect a few surprises with some of the girls this season." Veterans from a year ago include athletic 5-10 senior outside hitter Khaila Donaldson (43 Aces, 175 kills, 22 blocks, 234 digs), a Howard University recruit, and Wichita State-bound Kara Maleski, a 6-foot-5 senior rightside who had 98 kills and 37 blocks during her junior season. Also back are 5-8 senior setter Alexa Bykowski (37 aces, 341 assists) and 6-2 senior middle hitter Julia Osmund (87 kills, 33 blocks). The rock in the backrow is 5-7 senior libero Peyton Bykowski.

Competition fierce for Sun-Times' top 50 billing

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fara[1].jpgBenet's 6-foot-2 middle blocker Rachael Fara has verbally committed to play volleyball for Northwestern University.


Every year, limiting the list of top players in the Chicago area to just 50 gets tougher and tougher. Occasionally, we miss a few. Last year, six players (out of 36) made the Sun-Times All-Area team but were not listed among the top 50 to begin the season.

Of course, any major league hitter or NFL quarterback would be ecstatic with an .833 percentage. But we're always trying to do better.

Practice does not start for a few more days, but already we're compiling a list of nominees for the Sun-Times preseason top 50. Here are 100 names (but by no means the only ones) that are being considered for the top 50 list that will be published in a few weeks.

Jackie Adelphia, 6-0, Sr., MH, Hinsdale South
Kennedy Arundel, 5-7, Jr., OH, Mother McAuley
Madison Babich, 5-6, So., DS, Lyons
Joyce Balash, 6-1, Sr., MH, Montini
Alex Basler, 6-2, Jr., MB, Libertyville
Peyton Bykowski 5-7, Sr., L, Stevenson
Mary Boken, 6-2, Jr., MH, St. Francis
Maria Brown, 5-8, Sr., OH, Lincoln-Way Central
Emma Bruder, 5-4, Jr., L, Lincoln-Way East
Kayla Currier, 6-0, Sr., MH, Lincoln-Way East
Rachel Burau, 5-10, Jr., S, Wheaton Warrenville South
Riley Burchett, 5-4, Jr., DS, Nazareth
Katelyn Burke, 5-10, So., S/RS, Oswego
Peyton Bykowski, 5-6, Sr., L, Stevenson
Carla Cahill, 5-6, Jr., L, Mother McAuley
Natalie Canulli, 5-9, Jr., OH, Benet
Emily Casaletto, 5-6, Sr., L, Barrington
Kelsey Clark, 6-0, Jr., MB, Mother McAuley
Tiffany Clark, 5-11, So., OH, Benet
Amber Clay, 5-10, Sr., OH, Marian Catholic
Delaney D'Amore, 5-9, Sr., OH, IC Prep
Skyler Day, 5-10, Sr., OH, Minooka
Ryann DeJarld, 5-9, Jr., OH, Mother McAuley
Meg DeMarr, 5-10, Sr., L, Glenbard West
Sydney Doby, 6-2, Sr., MB, Harvest Christian Academy
Khaila Donaldson, 5-10, Sr., OH, Stevenson
Maddie Drain, 6-3, Sr., MB, Prairie Ridge
Sam Dubiel, 5-7, Sr., L, St. Francis
Gabrielle Ennis, 6-0, Sr., MB, Mother McAuley
Rachel Fara, 6-2, Jr., MH, Benet
Haley Fauntleroy, 6-3, Sr., MB, New Trier
Kate Federico, 5-10, Sr., S. Plainfield North
Kelly Ferguson, 5-11, Sr., MB, Lemont
Ali Frantti, 6-0, Sr., OH, Richmond-Burton
Krissa Gearring, 5-8, Sr., OH, Bolingbrook
Sydney Glover, 6-0, Sr., MB, Lake Zurich
Aileen Griffin, 5-11, Jr., S, Benet
Molly Haggerty, 6-0, So., OH, St. Francis
Maddie Haggerty, 6-2, Sr., OH. St. Francis
Lane Hindenburg, 5-11, Jr., OH, Fremd
Ashley Hitchcock, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Talia Holze, 5-11, Sr., S/OH, Wheaton Warrenville South
Brooke Istvan, 5-9, Jr., S, Hinsdale Central
Ellie Ivancich, 5-6, Sr., DS, Naperville North
Courtney Joyce, 5-11, Sr., S. Mother McAuley
Hannah Juley, 5-11, Jr., S, Lyons
Mary Kate Katarczynski, 5-9, Sr., S/OH, West Chicago
Sami Knight, 5-8, Jr., S, Sandburg
Olivia Kofie, 6-0, Sr., MB, Elgin Larkin
Taylor Krage, 6-0, Sr., OH, St. Charles North
Jessica Krygsheld, 5-11, Sr., OH, Chicago Christian
Jacqueline Langer, 5-11, Sr., OH, Lincoln-Way Central
Amanda Lelivelt, 6-1, Sr., MH, Riverside-Brookfield
Lauren Leverenz, 6-1, Sr., MB, Crystal Lake Central
Kiana Lewis, 6-0, Sr., OH, Schaumburg
Allie Lindroth, 6-2, So. ,OH, Plainfield North
Jenna Lodewyk, 5-10, Sr., S, Timothy Christian
Katherine Mahlke, 6-1, Sr., OH, Downers Grove North
Kara Maleski, 6-4, Sr., OH, Stevenson
Lexi Mantas, 5-11, Jr., OH, Stagg
Taylor Marmitt, 6-0, Sr., MB, Geneva
Kim Martino, 5-9, Sr., OH, IC Prep
Molly Mayo, 5-10, Sr., S, Marist
Taylor McCammon, 5-8, Sr., OH, Kankakee McNamara
Heather Meyer, 5-11, Sr., OH, Batavia
Rachel Minarick, 6-2, Sr., S, Waubonsie Valley
Avalon Nero, 5-9, Sr., OH, Crystal Lake South
Amy Nosek, 6-1, Sr., OH, York
Allie O'Reilly, 5-4, Sr., L, Burlington Central
Taylor Otto, 5-8, Sr., S, Prairie Ridge
Mallory Parsons, 5-11, Sr., OH, Lake Zurich
Brittany Pavich, 6-2, Sr., MH, Benet
Sam Pethokoukis, 6-2, Sr., MH, Fenwick
Rhiannon Prentiss, 5-8, Sr., OH, Libertyville
Lauren Robeck, 6-0, So., MH, Plainfield North
Olivia Rusek, 5-11, Sr., OH, Niles West
Dakota Santore, 5-9, Sr., OH, Plainfield North
Toni Saracco, 5-6, Jr., DS, Lyons
Julia Saunders, 6-3, Jr., OH, Nazareth
Molly Schlecht, 6-0, Sr., MH, York
Ashly Schmitt, 5-9, Sr., OH, Johnsburg
Meghan Seymour, 5-8, Sr., S, Cary-Grove
Sarah Shafiq, 6-4, Jr., MH, New Trier
Julia Shemaitis, 5-10, Sr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Nicole Slimko, 6-1, Sr., OH, Crystal Lake South
Symone Speech, 6-3, Jr., MH, Oak Park-River Forest
Brianna Stewart, 5-10, Sr., RS, Elgin Larkin
Kacie Stoll, 6-0, Jr., OH, Timothy Christian
Kristina Stoncius, 6-3, Jr., MH, Sandburg
Haley Sullivan, 5-3, Jr., DS, Lemont
Taylor Tashima, 6-0, Sr., S, New Trier
Carly Thompson, 6-1, Sr., MB, Prospect
Kristen Walding, 6-0, Sr., S, Lake Zurich
Claire Waliczek, 5-7, Sr., S, Barrington
MacKenzie Welsh, 6-0, So., S/OH, Plainfield East
Megan Wernette, 6-3, Jr., MH, Naperville North
Ali Witt, 5-11, Jr., MB, Prairie Ridge
Caroline Wolf, 5-8, Sr., L, Benet
Emily Workman, 5-9, Sr., S, Chicago Christian
Carolyn Yerkes, 5-8, Sr., L, Marist

***

Benet's 6-foot-2 middle blocker Rachael Fara has verbally committed to play volleyball for Northwestern University.

Fara had more than 115 kills and 55 blocks as a sophomore for the two-time defending Class 4A state champions and is the M1 for the 16 Elite team at Sports Performance Volleyball Club.

Fara said she selected Northwestern for the great academics, particularly the Feinberg School of Medicine, and for the opportunity to play in the Big Ten.

"The combination of excellent academics, coaches and well-rounded, focused players provides me an opportunity that I can't pass up," she said. "The girls and coaches at Northwestern aim to win. I'll do anything to help them accomplish our goals."

Northwestern went 16-15 last year and 5-15 in the Big Ten.

mollychina2 (UP).jpgSt. Francis' Molly Haggerty (9) celebrates a point with her teammates at the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.


A state championship. An AAU national championship. Now a world runner-up.

It's been a busy couple of months for St. Francis' sophomore-to-be and Sports Performance Volleyball Club standout Molly Haggerty of Glen Ellyn.

"I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep," Haggerty said.

Haggerty and her U.S. Girls' Youth National Team teammates, including Taylor Tashima (New Trier, Wilmette/Wildcat Juniors) and Simone Lee (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Club Fusion), made history Sunday as they earned a silver medal at the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand.

It was the first time a U.S. volleyball team - boys or girls -- won a world championship medal at the youth or junior level.

Both the U.S. and China finished the tournament with 6-2 records. However, China won the gold by defeating the United States 25-16, 25-21, 25-23 in both teams' finale Sunday. Brazil took the bronze medal, defeating Peru, 25-19, 25-23, 25-12.

Haggerty, who did not play in Game 1 against China, came off the bench to lead the United States with nine kills. Just 15 years old, Haggerty was the youngest player on the 18-and-under team. But playing with the older girls doesn't faze the 6-foot-1 outside hitter.

"I love playing tough competition," Haggerty said. "Playing with the older girls helps me to get better. I learned a lot from them."

Her teammates probably learned a few things from Haggerty, too.

"She's the best 15 year old I've seen in more than 30 years," Sports Performance Volleyball club director Rick Butler said of the All-American and AAU tournament MVP, who played club for SPVB 15 Elite.

The United States' previous best world championship finish was fourth in 2003 and 2005. The United States is ranked No. 5 in the world and serves as part of the high performance pipeline to the U.S. Women's National Team, which is ranked No. 1 in the world.

In the first set, China jumped out to a 7-2 lead and the U.S. never recovered. The second set was much closer. With the score tied 14-14, Haggerty scored with a kill and China was called for a net violation, giving the United States a 16-14 lead.

"I didn't start any of the matches," Haggerty said. "I usually came in midway through the first set or at the start of the second set if they needed an outside hitter or if somebody was struggling."

However China scored the next three points to retake the lead. With the score tied 20-20, China reached set point with a kill, two straight U.S. errors and an ace. Haggerty held off the loss with an attack before China won the set on a United States violation.

China led the third set 19-12 when the United States used a 6-3 run to pull to within four at 22-18. China reached match point at 24-19. The United States pulled within one at 24-23 before China won with a kill from the middle.

"We had such good team chemistry," Haggerty said. "We got along so well on and off the court. Even our coach (Jim Stone) said that. I think that chemistry really helped our play."

The final standings were: 1. China, 2. United States, 3. Brazil, 4. Peru, 5. Japan, 6. Serbia, 7. Poland, 8. Dominican Republic, 9. Turkey, 10. Italy, 11. Chinese Taipei, 12. Greece, 13. Slovenia, 14. Puerto Rico, 15. Egypt, 16. Thailand, 17. Argentina, 18. Mexico, 19. Tunisia, 20. Algeria.

Haggerty arrived back in Chicago early Monday after three fights and 19 hours in the air. She will have a week to recover before the high school season begins with tryouts and practice next week.

St. Francis, with Molly and Maddie Haggerty, Mary Boken, Becca Shearer and Sam Dubiel returning from last year's Class 3A championship team, figures to contend again in 2013.

Molly Haggerty is already looking forward to the Asics Challenge at Mother McAuley and a potential date with defending tournament champion Assumption (Louisville, Ky.).

"There were two girls from Assumption (Molly Sauer and Kenzie Maloney, who both play for Asics KIVA 16 Red) on the youth national team," Haggerty said. "I know they're hoping to play us at McAuley."

A word of warning to the girls from KIVA. Be careful what you ask for.

***

Natalie Canulli, a junior at Benet, has verbally committed to play volleyball for Penn State, head coach Brad Baker said. Canulli is a 5-foot-8 outside hitter for the two-time Class 4A state champions and a libero for the Sports Performance 16 Elite team.

Canulli, who will play libero for the Nittany Lions, said she selected Penn State for its combination of academics, in particular the Smeal School of Business, and athletic tradition.

"My dream is to win a national championship, and playing for Penn State affords me a unique opportunity to do so," she said. "I understand the commitment and tradition of excellence and I am very excited and appreciative of the opportunity."

Canulli is the third member of the 2013 Benet team to commit to a Division I program, joining middle hitter Brittany Pavich (Boston College) and defensive specialist Caroline Wolf (Wake Forest).

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