By Pat Brozynski

Who will be 2013 Sun-Times Player of Year?

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gators 2.jpgCrystal Lake South is playing on the final weekend of the season for the first time since 1996.


Mother McAuley held on to the No. 7 spot in Prepvolleyball.com's latest Century Club National Rankings after cruising in its Class 4A sectional and supersectional matches last week.

St. James (46-0) of Lenexa retained its No. 1 ranking after winning its sixth consecutive state title, but there is still some debate whether it will be enough for the Thunder to claim the mythical national championship.

St. Francis moved up one spot to No. 14 after coasting to sectional and supersectional titles last weekend.

Naperville North cracked the top 100 at No. 87 before losing to Benet in the sectional championship game. Plainfield North fell from No. 80 to 89 after losing to Naperville North in the sectional semifinal.

New Trier checked in at No. 95 after not being ranked the previous week, Crystal Lake South moved up two spots to No. 97 and St. Charles North broke into the rankings at No. 98 prior to its sectional final loss to Geneva.

Glenbard West, which had been ranked No. 69, fell out of the rankings after its loss to Geneva.

Teams on the bubble (in alphabetical order) were: Benet, Rockford Boylan, Breese Central, Crystal Lake Central, Geneva, Glenbard South, Glenbard West, Keith Country Day, Lake Zurich, Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way North, Marist, Breese Mater Dei, Montini, Nazareth, Normal Community, Oak Park, Sandburg, Springfield, St. Charles East, Stevenson and Waubonsie Valley.

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Fred Rakers, who built Breese Mater Dei High School into one of the state's top volleyball programs, died last Wednesday from cancer. He was 68.

Rakers led the Knights to six state championships and a career record of 1,046 wins, 200 losses and seven ties. The win total is the second-highest in Illinois history, second only to St. Francis coach Peg Kopec.

"Fred was an old school kind of guy who valued all the solid characteristics - hard work, teamwork, integrity, etc." Kopec said. "There is a good reason he is remembered fondly by so many. He was a strong, kind mentor to my daughter who coached with him."

Rakers won state titles in 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2010. His teams won 14 state trophies, including one runner-up finish, three third places and three fourths. His final team was 41-1 and finished the 2010 season ranked 26th in the nation.

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The Chicago Sun-Times Girls Volleyball Player of the Year and 2013 All-Area team will be announced Saturday. Here is a look at the past winners of the Player of the Year honors:

1982 Eva Murray, Mother McAuley
1983 Nancy Reno, Glenbard West
1984 Mary Eggers, West Aurora
1985 Cheryl Prihar, Oak Forest
1986 Barb Blizzard, Richards
1987 Julie Bremner, St. Francis
1988 Michele Kohler, Richards
1989 Kristin Henriksen, Immaculate Conception
1990 Kathleen Shannon, Immaculate Conception
1991 Sara Skryd, St. Francis
1992 Michelle Battistella, Mother McAuley
1993 Nicole Peterson, Lockport
1994 Jeanine Szczesniak, Mother McAuley
1995 Ryann Connors, Mother McAuley
1996 Christie Landry, St. Francis
1997 Stephanie Jackson, Lockport
1998 Elizabeth Gower, Naperville Central
1999 Melissa Vandrey, Queen of Peace
2000 Marian Weidner, St. Francis
2001 Samantha Tortorello, Joliet Catholic
2002 Colleen Byrne, Sandburg
2003 Katie Brudzinski, Naperville North
2004 Laura Holloway, Barrington
2005 Jessica Yanz, Naperville Central
2006 Lindsey Mango, Naperville Central
2007 Kelly Murphy, Joliet Catholic
2008 Desiree Aramburu, Mother McAuley
2009 Anne Marie Hickey, Joliet Catholic
2010 Kelly Lamberti, Cary-Grove
2011 Alexis Viliunas, Lyons
2012 Lauren Carlini, West Aurora

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Did you know?

Under the old two-class system in girls volleyball when the Chicago Public School champion was awarded an automatic berth in the state quarterfinals (the equivalent of a supersectional since today only four schools in each class advance to state), city teams were 0-27 downstate.

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Thumbnail image for sam.jpgDiane Mikulskis (left), director of the Michio Chicago Volleyball Academy, and Kathleen O'Laughlin (right), Fenwick girls volleyball coach, flank Sam Pethokoukis on Wednesday as she signs her national letter of intent to play Division I volleyball next fall for Siena College, a private Roman Catholic college of about 3,000 undergraduates in Loudonville, N.Y.

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Whitney Young and Rolling Meadows, two teams that will be in the top five when the Sun-Times rankings come out later this month, headline the 2013 Mac Irvin Diabetes Awareness Classic at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, December 7 at Elgin Larkin.

Young returns 6-5 senior center Khaalia Hillsman and 5-11 senior forward Taylor Brame from last year's third-place Class 4A finisher and welcomes 5-8 sophomore guard Kiara Lewis, who missed all of last year with injury.

Rolling Meadows returns six of its top seven from last year's Class 4A runner-up including point guard extraordinaire Jackie Kemph, sharpshooting Northwestern recruit Alexis Glasgow and 6-2 forward Jenny Vliet.

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Whitney Young will host the 2013 ChiTown Showdown on Friday-Saturday, December 13-14.

Friday's games feature Champaign Central vs. Harlan at 5 p.m.; Proviso East vs. Morgan Park at 6:30 p.m.; and Huntley vs. Whitney Young at 8 p.m.

Saturday's schedule has Mother McAuley vs. North Lawndale at 11 a.m.; Bolingbrook vs. Crete-Monee and Phillips vs. South Shore at 12:30 p.m.; Vernon Hills vs. Trinity and Bloom vs. Kenwood at 2 p.m.; and C. Miller vs. Joliet Catholic and Christ the King vs. Hyde Park at 3:30 p.m.

Fremd plays Marian Catholic at 5 p.m.; St. Thomas Moore plays Whitney Young at 6:30 p.m.; and Rolling Meadows plays Milwaukee Riverside at 8 p.m.

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Four Rolling Meadows starters will ink their national letters of intent on Wednesday and will be recognized at a special ceremony at 6 p.m. in the school's faculty lounge. Players signing letters are: Alexis Glasgow (Northwestern), Jackie Kemph and Jenny Vliet (St. Louis University) and Ashley Montanez (University of Indianapolis).

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on November 11, 2013 10:28 PM.

Mt. Pulaski's Dulle joins Kopec, Rakers with No. 1,000 was the previous entry in this blog.

The wait is over for Jean Field, IC Catholic Prep is the next entry in this blog.

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