Former 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.