Chicago Sun-Times
By Pat Brozynski

December 2013 Archives

Former S-T POYs Carlini, Hickey led Wisconsin

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They wear Wisconsin uniforms, but four of them are from Illinois. The coach who recruited them "resigned" after 14 years and nine NCAA appearances, but they stuck with the program.


Lauren Carlini, Annemarie Hickey, Courtney Thomas and Ellen Chapman shocked the college volleyball world when they led the 12th-seeded Badgers to a 25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23 upset of No. 1-ranked Texas in the NCAA women's semifinals last Thursday.


They even shocked themselves. Sort of.


"The fact that we did it in a very decisive way made it a lot more special," said Carlini, the West Aurora graduate and 2012 Sun-Times Player of the Year who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Second Team All-American.


"We didn't want people to say Wisconsin won because Texas played poorly," she said.


Hickey, the Sun-Times' 2009 Player of the Year from Joliet Catholic and lone senior on the Wisconsin team who will graduate in December 2014 with a degree in Sociology, liked the matchup between Texas' offense and the Badgers' gritty defense.

"I wasn't surprised at all," said the 5-foot-8 libero. "Obviously, everyone in the volleyball world knew how physical and tall they (Texas) were. But we are one of the best defensive teams in the country. We were confident that we were very capable of winning."


Although the Badgers' dream of a national championship ended two nights later in a 25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 25-23 loss to Big Ten rival Penn State, Wisconsin made a lot of converts and ended the season ranked No. 2 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 25 poll released Monday.


"I could not have asked for a better senior year and I am so grateful to the coaches and my teammates who helped me along the way," said Hickey, who plans to pursue coaching.


Maybe the best move that first-year Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield made after he was named to succeed Pete Waite was convincing Carlini to stay. It was Waite who recruited Carlini to Wisconsin.


"Coach Waite is a great guy and I still talk to him a lot," Carlini said. "But after he resigned, I didn't want any external contact until I knew who the new coach would be. Once coach Sheffield was hired, we talked the next day and he told me where he wanted the program to go and what my role would be."


During the NCAA tournament, some attention was focused on Carlini's stature as a freshman leading a team to the national semifinals. But anyone who follows volleyball regularly knew that she is no ordinary freshman.


"She was as close to a 'can't-miss' prospect as I have seen in my 30-plus years of coaching," said Rick Butler, Carlini's coach at Sports Performance Volleyball Club in Aurora where she won a national AAU title in 2013 with her SPVB 18 Mizuno teammates.


"After watching her in the gym on a daily basis over the past few years, it was clear she was going to be an outstanding collegiate player," he added.


Wisconsin and Carlini should be players in the national championship picture again in 2014.


In addition to welcoming back Thomas (DeKalb) and the 6-4 Chapman (Glenbrook South), they will add Taylor Fricano, a 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman from Palatine who followed Sheffield from Dayton, and return another Illinois product in Victoria Ito, a defensive specialist from Buffalo Grove.


"Everyone is so excited about next year," Carlini said. "Hopefully, now we will get the respect we deserve. I think we showed that a team that plays hard, plays with passion and grinds it out can be successful."


***

Neuqua Valley (12-5) might have been the most impressive team at the Montini Christmas Tournament despite going only 2-2. The Wildcats smothered DeKalb and Batavia and lost squeakers to Rolling Meadows (78-74) and Fremd (54-52).


"They're really impressive," Rolling Meadows guard Jackie Kemph said. "They're an awesome defensive team. Their press was so good we couldn't break it with one person. I think it was a team effort to beat the press a lot of times. They're really fast."


Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams liked what he saw.


"We just keep getting better," he said. "I'm completely and thoroughly impressed with the girls' resolve. IT will be fun to see what happens in February. I think we'll be right there. I know some people are excited about us. We're excited."


***


Rolling Meadows' 6-foot-1 Ashley Montanez, who split time at forward with Morgan Keller last year, has been a steady force for the Mustangs around the basket.


"Ashley has been awesome," Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. "She's a presence on the defensive boards and she anchored our zone (against Neuqua Valley) which we had to play with some of our foul trouble at the beginning of the game.


"She finished under the basket, which is what we need from her," the coach added.


***


Montini overcame a 30-27 third-quarter deficit and made 8-of-8 free throws in the final 40.2 seconds to defeat Fremd 59-51 in a quarterfinal of the Montini Christmas Tournament last Thursday.


"We did a better job of getting rebounds (in the second half)," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "We gave up a ton of offensive rebounds in the first three quarters. We can't do that. I thought we did a better job of locating (Fremd's Haley) Gorecki in the second half.


"I know she finished with 24 points, but defensively we picked it up," he added. "We held them to 11 points in that fourth quarter. That was huge. We were also 14-of-17 in the second half compare to getting only two free throws in the first half. They had 18 in the first half, so it evened out."


***


Trinity also finished 2-2 at Montini, beating Plainfield East and Batavia before losing to Rolling Meadows (66-64) and Marian Catholic (52-22).


But a bright spot was the play of coach Ed Stritzel's daughter Patricia Stritzel, who scored 14 points while limiting Rolling Meadows' Alexis Glasgow to six in the teams' semifinal.


"I thought my daughter Patricia was great tonight," the coach said. "She did a wonderful job on her (Glasgow)."


Despite the third-place blowout, Stritzel has confidence in his young team (three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen).


"There are some real positives," he said. "The schedule's going to help us as long as we stay healthy. After this tournament, you know who you are and you know what your shortcomings are. But we're going to be around."


***


How tough was the Montini field this year?


"Our second-round, third-round and fourth-round games against Montini, Huntley and Neuqua Valley would be a championship game at just about any other tournament," Fremd coach Dave Yates said.


"I'm really proud of our kids to see that competition and step up and make plays to beat some teams like that," he added. "That's part of why we want to come here. They have a great thing going here. They have great teams and this is where you find out about yourself.


"You don't find out about yourself by beating people by 30 points that you're better than," Yates said. "You find out about yourself in these situations. I think there are a lot of positives that came out of this tournament."

R-B's Frantti named Gatorade Player of the Year

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ricecenter2.jpgBenedictine University is the third area Division III school to recently announce plans to offer men's volleyball.


Richmond-Burton senior outside hitter Ali Frantti has been named Gatorade's player of the year for Illinois.


The 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter recorded 603 kills, 270 digs, 99 service aces and 84 blocks this past season while posting a kill percentage of .540 and leading the Lady Rockets (23-14) to the Class 3A regional semifinals. She also led Richmond-Burton to a second-place finish in 2012.


A 2013-14 American Volleyball Coaches Association First Team Under Armour All-American, Frantti Frantti has maintained a 3.36 GPA in the classroom. She has served as a member of her school's student council and volunteered locally on behalf of an area food pantry and as a youth volleyball coach.
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"Ali Frantti has the ability to change the course of any given match," Crystal Lake Central coach Lisa Reddish said. "She has always had that ability, but she is also an awesome teammate who plays for the love of the game."


Frantti has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball at Penn State.


The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction girls volleyball.


***


Benedictine University has announced plans to add men's volleyball as an NCAA Division III sport beginning in the fall of 2014.


"This is a tremendous opportunity for our University," Director of Athletics Mark McHorney said. "We feel that there is amazing potential for growth in this sport and we want to capitalize on the incredible talent of student-athletes in the Chicago metropolitan area."


Men's volleyball becomes the 20th NCAA Division III sport offered by Benedictine, which with the addition of men's volleyball now offers 10 men's and 10 women's sports. Men's and women's lacrosse began play in the spring of 2013.


Benedictine becomes the third area Division III school to add men's volleyball recently. Dominican University will begin play this spring and North Central College in Naperville announced that it would add men's volleyball in 2016.


Benedictine also becomes the third member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) to offer men's volleyball, joining the Milwaukee School of Engineering, which has been sponsoring the sport for several years, and Dominican.


Currently, seven other Illinois schools offer men's volleyball at various levels. Last spring, 61 schools throughout the country competed at the NCAA Division III level.


Most of the growth in collegiate men's volleyball in the last 20 years has been at the NCAA Division III level. The NCAA established a separate volleyball championship for Division III schools in 2012. Springfield College (Mass.) has won both of the first two NCAA Division III championships.


Men's volleyball at Benedictine will participate as an independent for the 2014-15 season.


Benedictine is currently searching for a head coach to begin building the program from the ground level.


***

Prepvolleyball.com has released its final Century Club National Rankings. Class 4A champion Mother McAuley closed its 40-2 season ranked No. 8 nationally, while Class 3A state champion St. Francis finished at No. 13.


Class 4A runner-up Benet finished the season at No. 86, followed by No. 90 New Trier, No. 96 Crystal Lake South, No. 104 Glenbard West, No. 110 Naperville North, No. 111. Plainfield North and No. 187 Waubonsie Valley.


Also breaking into the top 250 were No. 190 Sandburg, No. 191. Marist, No. 194 St. Charles North, No. 207 Keith Country Day, No. 209 Immaculate Conception, No. 226 Rockford Boylan and No. 227 Geneva.


***


The Montini and Wheaton North girls basketball tournaments are already underway, and here is how the rest of the week shapes up:


Montini Holiday Tournament


Thursday, December 26


Game 13 - Trinity vs. Batavia, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Rolling Meadows vs. Neuqua Valley, 4:45 p.m.
Game 15 - Montini vs. Fremd. 6:30 p.m.
Game 16 - Huntley vs. Marian Catholic, 8:15 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6:30 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 8:15 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 31 - Third place, 6:30 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 8:15 p.m.


Bill Neibch Falcon Classic at Wheaton North


Thursday, December 26


Game 13 - Glenbrook South vs. Hinsdale Central, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Wheaton North vs. Downers Grove North, 4:30 p.m.
Game 15 - West Aurora vs. Lyons, 6:00 p.m.
Game 16 - Glenbard South vs. Hersey, 7:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 31 - Third place, 6 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 7:30 p.m.


Hillcrest Holiday Classic


Thursday, December 26


Game 1 - T.F. North vs. Sandburg, 9 a.m. (Gym #1)
Game 2 - Seton vs. Hillcrest, 9 a.m. (Gym #2)
Game 3 - Lockport vs. Rich Central, 10:30 a.m. (Gym #1)
Game 4 - Queen of Peace vs. Bolingbrook, 10:30 a.m. (Gym #2)
Game 5 - Marist vs. Oak Forest, 12 p.m. (Gym #1)
Game 6 - Rich South vs. Tinley Park, 12 p.m. (Gym #2)
Game 7 - Bloom vs. Stagg, 1:30 p.m. (Gym #1)
Game 8 - Thornton vs. Joliet Catholic, 1:30 p.m. (Gym #2)


Thursday, December 26 (all winners' games in Gym #1)


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 4:30 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 8, 7:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 30 - Third place, 4:30 p.m.
Game 31 - Championship, 6 p.m.


Dundee-Crown Charger Classic


Thursday, December 26


Game 1 - Hononegah vs. Buffalo Grove, 10 a.m.
Game 2 - Evanston vs. Naperville Central, 11:30 a.m.
Game 3 - Prospect vs. Bartlett, 1 p.m.
Game 4 - Maine South vs. Stevenson, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5 - St. Charles North vs. New Trier, 4 p.m.
Game 6 - Maine West vs. Resurrection, 5:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Burlington Central vs. Mother McAuley, 7 p.m.
Game 8 - Dundee-Crown vs. Barrington, 8:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3:30 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 5 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6:30 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 8, 8 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6:30 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 8 p.m.


Monday, December 30


Game 31 - Third place, 6:30 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 8 p.m.

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Ashton Millender and Marian Catholic will try to claim the title at Montini over the holidays.


Done with your holiday shopping? Here are the winner's brackets for the four major holiday tournaments so you can make your holiday plans accordingly:


Montini Christmas Tournament


Monday, December 23


Game 1 - Trinity vs. Plainfield East, 8 a.m.
Game 2 - Batavia vs. Zion-Benton, 9:45 a.m.
Game 3 - Rolling Meadows vs. Proviso West, 11:30 a.m.
Game 4 - Neuqua Valley vs. DeKalb, 1:15 p.m.
Game 5 - Montini vs. Oak Park-River Forest, 3 p.m.
Game 6 - Fremd vs. South Elgin, 4:45 p.m.
Game 7 - Huntley vs. Geneva, 6:30 p.m.
Game 8 - Marian Catholic vs. St. Joseph, 8:15 p.m.


Thursday, December 26


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 4:45 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6:30 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 8, 8:15 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6:30 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 8:15 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 31 - Third place, 6:30 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 8:15 p.m.


Hillcrest Holiday Classic


Thursday, December 26


Game 1 - T.F. North vs. Sandburg, 9 a.m. (Gym #1)
Game 2 - Seton vs. Hillcrest, 9 a.m. (Gym #2)
Game 3 - Lockport vs. Rich Central, 10:30 a.m. (Gym #1)
Game 4 - Queen of Peace vs. Bolingbrook, 10:30 a.m. (Gym #2)
Game 5 - Marist vs. Oak Forest, 12 p.m. (Gym #1)
Game 6 - Rich South vs. Tinley Park, 12 p.m. (Gym #2)
Game 7 - Bloom vs. Stagg, 1:30 p.m. (Gym #1)
Game 8 - Thornton vs. Joliet Catholic, 1:30 p.m. (Gym #2)


Thursday, December 26 (all winners' games in Gym #1)


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 4:30 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 8, 7:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 30 - Third place, 4:30 p.m.
Game 31 - Championship, 6 p.m.


Dundee-Crown Charger Classic


Thursday, December 26


Game 1 - Hononegah vs. Buffalo Grove, 10 a.m.
Game 2 - Evanston vs. Naperville Central, 11:30 a.m.
Game 3 - Prospect vs. Bartlett, 1 p.m.
Game 4 - Maine South vs. Stevenson, 2:30 p.m.
Game 5 - St. Charles North vs. New Trier, 4 p.m.
Game 6 - Maine West vs. Resurrection, 5:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Burlington Central vs. Mother McAuley, 7 p.m.
Game 8 - Dundee-Crown vs. Barrington, 8:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3:30 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 5 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6:30 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 8, 8 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6:30 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 8 p.m.


Monday, December 30

Game 31 - Third place, 6:30 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 8 p.m.


Bill Neibch Falcon Classic at Wheaton North


Monday, December 23


Game 1 - Willowbrook vs. Glenbrook South, 9 a.m.
Game 2 - Hinsdale Central vs. Elgin, 10:30 a.m.
Game 3 - Wheaton North vs. Elk Grove, 12 p.m.
Game 4 - Downers Grove North vs. Glenbard North, 1:30 p.m.
Game 5 - West Aurora vs. Waubonsie Valley, 3 p.m.
Game 6 - Lyons vs. St. Charles East, 4:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Glenbard South vs. Jacobs, 6 p.m.
Game 8 - Hersey vs. Schaumburg, 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, December 26


Game 13 - Winners Games 1 and 2, 3 p.m.
Game 14 - Winners Games 3 and 4, 4:30 p.m.
Game 15 - Winners Games 5 and 6. 6:00 p.m.
Game 16 - Winners Games 7 and 87, 7:30 p.m.


Friday, December 27


Game 23 - Winners Games 13 and 14, 6 p.m.
Game 24 - Winners Games 15 and 16, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, December 28


Game 31 - Third place, 6 p.m.
Game 32 - Championship, 7:30 p.m.


***


The schedule for the 24th Annual McDonald's Shootout has been released by event organizer Jim O'Boye. However, there is one possible change affecting four teams - Rolling Meadows, Marian Catholic, Fenwick and Vernon Hills.


Rolling Meadows and Marian are playing in the Montini Christmas Tournament. If they don't meet during that tournament, they will play each other at the McDonald's Shootout on Monday, January 20. That would leave Fenwick and Vernon Hills to play each other.


According to O'Boye, this is the first time he has asked schools to make a change after the schedule was released.


The shootout begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 17 with Warren facing St. Ignatius doing battle. St. Ignatius is one of only two schools to play in all 24 events. The final game on Friday features Andrews and Northern Kentucky signee Molly Franson taking on Gabrielle Rush and Hinsdale Central.


Saturday's slate of eight games begins at 9 a.m. Two of the top attractions will see highly touted 6-foot-4 sophomore Tori McCoy of (Champaign) St. Thomas More facing Geneva and by 6-foot senior swimgman Sidney Santos at 3 p.m, and Prospect, led by juniors Catherine Sherwood and Taylor Will, going up against Wheaton Warrenville South and DePaul signee Meghan Waldron at 6 p.m.


Monday's schedule has eight more games tipping off at 9 a.m. with host Willowbrook playing Providence. Batavia, led by senior Liza Fruendt, meets Joliet Catholic with 6-foot senior Jasmine Lumpkin (Michigan State) and sophomore Nicole Ekhomu at 1:30 p.m.


Other games Monday feature Bolingbrook and Montini at 4:30 p.m., and Neuqua Valley facing Trinity at 7:30 p.m.


All games are played at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park. Tickets for each day are $7 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for seniors. A ticket is good for all games that day.


Here is the schedule for the three-day event:


24th Annual McDonald's Shootout


Friday, January 17


Warren vs. St. Ignatius , 6 p.m.
Andrew vs. Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, January 18


Plainfield East vs. Brooks, 9 a.m.
Bogan vs. Plainfield North, 10:30 a.m.
Wheaton North vs. Hillcrest, 12 p.m.
Oregon-Davis (Hamlet, Ind.) vs. Benet, 1:30 p.m.
St. Thomas More vs. Geneva, 3 p.m.
Pickerington North (Ohio) vs. Maine West, 4:30 p.m.
Prospect vs. Wheaton-Warrenville South, 6 p.m.
Burlington Central vs, Fremd, 7:30 p.m.


Monday, January 20


Providence vs. Willowbrook, 9 a.m.
Kokomo (Ind.) vs. Marist, 10:30 a.m.
Pickerington North (Ohio) vs. Bloom, 12 p.m..
Batavia vs. Joliet Catholic, 1:30 p.m.
Vernon Hills vs. Marian catholic, 3 p.m.
Bolingbrook vs. Montini, 4:30 p.m.
Fenwick vs. Rolling Meadows, 6 p.m.
Neuqua Valley vs. Trinity, 7:30 p.m.


***


Wisconsin (27-9) is heading to the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Final Four for the first time since 2000 led by two Sun-Times All-Area Players of the Year - former Joliet Catholic star and 2009 choice Annemaire Hickey and 2012 selection Lauren Carlini of West Aurora.


Hickey had 23 digs and Carlini had 55 assists in Wisconsin's 25-22, 23-25, 25-18, 25-21 regional championship victory over Purdue. Carlini added 10 digs and was named the regional MVP.


Wisconsin junior Ellen Chapman (Glenbrook South), a 2010 Sun-Times All-Area selection, added 19 kills for Wisconsin.

IC's D'Amore commits to St. John's in New York

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d'amore.jpgIC Catholic Prep senior Delaney D'Amore has verbally committed to play volleyball at St. John's University in Queens, N.Y., as a libero/defensive specialist. St. John's is a member of the Big East conference. D'Amore had 419 kills, 29 blocks, 58 aces and 509 digs heading into the state finals and had 11 kills and seven digs in the championship match against Albion Edwards County.


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 More plays Whitney Young at 6:30 p.m.; and Rolling Meadows plays Milwaukee Riverside at 8 p.m.


***

Joliet Catholic (5-0), led by Michigan State recruit Jasmine Lumpkin and sophomore guard Nicole Ekhomu, is the No. 1 seed at the Hillcrest Holiday Classic December 26-28.


Bolingbrook is the No. 2 seed, followed by Hillcrest and Marist. Each team plays twice on Thursday.


Joliet Catholic opens play at Hillcrest against Thornton at 1:30 p.m. on December 26. Bolingbrook will play Queen of Peace at 10:30 a.m., Hillcrest meets Seton at 9:00 a.m. and Marist plays Oak Forest at 12 p.m.


Other first round games are TF North vs. Sandburg at 9 a.m., Lockport vs. Rich Central at 10:30 a.m., Erich South vs. Tinley Park at 12 p.m. and Bloom vs. Stagg at 1:30 p.m.


The Joliet Catholic/Thornton winner plays the Bloom/Stagg winner at 7:30 p.m., the Bolingbrook/Queen of Peace winner plays the Lockport/Rich Central winner at 4:30 p.m., the Hillcrest/Seton winners plays the TF North/ Sandburg winner at 3 p.m., and the Marist/Oak Forest winner plays the Rich South/Tinley Park winner at 6 p.m.


The semifinals are at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on December 27, and the championship is at 6 p.m, on December 28.


***


mizuno boys.jpgSports Performance 18 Mizuno travelled to Minas Tenis Clube in Belo Horizonte, Brazil November 22-December 1 for the Minas Tenis Clube U19 International Tournament. SPVB 18 Mizuno finished with a 3-1 record.


***

Sports Performance Volleyball will host a Coaches School at the Great Lakes Center April 25-27 presented by Rick and Cheryl Butler. Check-in is at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 26 with the school running from 9-6 p.m. Lunch will be provided. Sunday's session begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 2 p.m.


Topics covered include movement training, training individual skills, setter development, statistics, scouting, physical training, serving, youth development and feeder systems, attacking, blocking, offensive systems development, defensive systems development and component play.


The cost is $200 which includes an extensive coaching manual and $150 for each additional coach from the same school or club. Register at www.greatlakescenter.com.


***


The American Volleyball Coaches Association announced its Division I Regional Awards this week, and the All-Region Teams featured a number of players from the Chicago area.


Natalia Skiba (Hinsdale Central), a junior libero at Northeastern University , was named to the East Region All-Region Team.


Named to the North Region All-Region team were Meghan Haggerty (Benet), a sophomore middle blocker at Nebraska; Stephanie Holthus (Burlington Central), a senior outside hitter from Northwestern; Kelsey Robinson (St. Francis), a senior outside hitter from Nebraska, and Lauren Wicinski (Geneva), a senior outside hitter from Michigan State.


Caleigh Ryan (Glenbard West), a freshman setter from Northwestern, was named honorable mention.


Named to the Northeast Region All-Region team were Jocelynn Birks (Lyons), a sophomore outside hitter from Illinois; Lauren Carlini (West Aurora), a freshman setter at Wisconsin; Ellen Chapman (Glenbrook South), a junior outside hitter from Wisconsin; Abby Gilleland (Marian Central), a sophomore setter at Ohio University; and Kelly Lamberti (Cary-Grove), a junior outside hitter at Ohio University.


Carlini was named the Freshman of the Year in the Northeast Region.


Named to the All-Region team in the Southeast Region was Taylor Brauneis (Prairie Ridge), a senior setter at the University of Florida.


***

Sources report that East Suburban Catholic Conference athletics directors are considering a two-division setup in girls volleyball to accommodate the addition of Marian Central, which had been scheduled to joined the Catholic League until a few weeks ago.


The move would split the ESCC into North and South divisions for volleyball only.


The North would have five teams and include Marian Central, St. Viator, Carmel, Fenwick and
Nazareth. The South would include six teams, including Marist, Marian Catholic, Joliet Catholic, Benet, Bishop McNamara and Providence.


Teams would only play teams within their own division in conference play. Teams within the division would play each other twice.


The ESCC is generally regarded as the best girls volleyball conference in the state.


manual monmouth.jpgCoaches, players, fans and officials are grappling with the IHSA's new directive on close contact in basketball.


A few people have commented on the article in Wednesday's Sun-Times, "More whistles, more problems," including two highly respected coaches (who will remain nameless to protect them and their players from excessive scrutiny).

Their concerns, and those of many coaches, players and officials, are genuine. But will those concerns fall on deaf ears?

"As one of the old guys still in the game, I saw a need for change," one coach said. "The hand checking was getting out of hand and the paint was too much of a war zone instead of a skills-based area. But of course, we have now gone too far.

"The game has lost a lot," the coach added. "Between my games and the games I have scouted, I've seen some officials acting like their every move is being watched by the IHSA. They are watching the coach's feet for being out of the box, watching for ANY touch on the player with the ball and then blowing the whistle.

"The games have lost any flow to them. Forty-plus fouls is now the norm. Officials are apologizing before the game starts, then call fouls over and over. There has to be some common sense to this. We needed some changes, but let find the best middle ground and get back to playing basketball again instead of watching players shoot free throws."

One concern among some coaches is that even the most incidental contact will be called a foul, even when that contact does not in any way affect the "rhythm, speed, balance and quickness" of the offensive player.

"Having taught man-to-man defense for a number of years, I can say with a high degree of confidence that EVERY TIME a defender in legal guarding position gets beat, the hand of the defender will 'touch' the ballhandler," another coach said. "I believe that this is where the controversy exists today."

A fervent advocate of man defense, the coach has even gone as far as to start teaching zone.

"What I had feared is coming to fruition ... 'touch' calls by a minority of officials has caused good man-to-man defenders to spend a lot of time on the bench," the coach said.

"I believe that ... the guys in charge properly recognized that defensive players were improperly using their hands to impact the rhythm, speed, balance and quickness of the ball handler. They issued guidance that said if a defender initiates contact against a ballhandler, then it is a foul and should be called.

"This was said in the context of illegal contact, which is defined as anything that impacts the rhythm, speed, balance and quickness of the opponent."

However, the coach said that during guidance sessions about what constitutes a foul under the new directive -- sessions the coach attended -- the part about "in such a way that it affects the rhythm, speed, balance and quickness of the ball handler" was left out of the discussion.

The coach believes that this has led to an excessive number of fouls being called that are technically not fouls. These calls not only affect the defensive player's ability to play any reasonable defense, they create situations where an offensive player who may have a clear path to the basket is penalized to accommodate a whistle.

"I believe that the IHSA, since they are rightfully trying to tighten things up, does not want to get specific about what does NOT constitute a foul," the coach said. "Yet, I think this is sorely needed at the moment.

"From my standpoint, I just need to know what to say to the official who says 'nope' when I counter their 'The defender's hands cannot touch the ballhandler' with the 'rhythm, speed, balance and quickness' argument.

"Unless the IHSA comes out and says it is not what they want, then 'The IHSA told us to call every touch' is kind of a trump card to any conversation ... especially when one party has the ability to make it so.

"I believe that the IHSA needs to take a leadership role in quickly closing this loophole," the coach concluded.

***

Congratulations to Bartlett coach Denise Sarna, who recently won her 300th career game. The party was delayed one game when Benet coach Peter Paul's 600th win left Sarna sitting at No. 299.

***

Whitney Young and Rolling Meadows, two teams that are in the top five of the Sun-Times rankings, 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.

***

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 More plays Whitney Young at 6:30 p.m.; and Rolling Meadows plays Milwaukee Riverside at 8 p.m.

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