Members of the Sports Performance 18 Mizuno team, who participated in a tournament at the Minas Tenis Clube in Belo Horizonte, Brazil back in November, remind us that the boys volleyball season is less than two months away.
Six Illinois players are among the 53 nominees for the Andi Collins Award, given to the nation's top senior setter and presented by PrepVolleyball.com.
The award is named for Collins, who wanted to be the best setter in the nation before cancer ended that dream on September 4, 2003, a month shy of her 17th birthday.
Candidates for Andi Collins Award include:
Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year Taylor Tashima, who powered the Trevians to the Class 4A semifinals for the second straight year. The Northwestern signee had 463 assists, 189 kills and 79 aces for a 31-4 team.
Plainfield North's Kate Federico, who led the Tigers to 33 wins and a national ranking. The Clemson recruit recorded 775 assists, 121 digs, 86 kills and 40 aces last fall. She was named Southwest Prairie Conference conference MVP, Chicago Sun-Times All-Area and first team all-state by the Champaign News-Gazette.
Bloomington Central Catholic's Caroline Holt, a 5-foot-9 senior who was named second team all-state by the Champaign News-Gazette after delivering 780 assists, 288 digs, 125 kills and 25 blocks for a 26-10 team. Holt signed with Loyola of Chicago.
Courtney Joyce of Mother McAuley, a three-year starting setter who led the Mighty Macs to a 40-2 mark in 2013 and their first state title in 10 years. Joyce, a Western Illinois recruit, amassed 757 assists, 237 digs and 117 kills. She was named Player of the Year by the Southtown Star, was a first team all-state pick by the Champaign News-Gazette and was Chicago Sun-Times All-Area selection.
Kimmy Martino of IC Catholic Prep, who led the Knights to the Class 2A title in 2013. A second team all-area selection by the Chicago Sun-Times, Martino finished her senior year with 876 assists, 117 kills and 138 digs.
LaSalle-Peru's Katie Olson, a 5-foot-6 second-team all-state pick by the Champaign News-Gazette who helped the Cavaliers to a 35-4 record and second-place finish in Class 3A. The Grand Valley State recruit finished the season with 841 assists, 145 digs, 67 kills and 43 aces.
Sophomore libero Tiffany Clark of Benet has verbally committed to play volleyball for the University of Michigan.
"I chose Michigan because it was my dream school," Clark said. "I love the perfect balance between a competitive volleyball program and legendary academics. Also, playing in the Big 10 was extremely important to me and my family."
Clark, who plays for Sports Performance 16-1 team and was a member of the AAU 15U Open Division championship team last summer, helped lead Benet to a 36-6 record and second place in the IHSA Class 4A tournament last fall.
"The University of Michigan is getting a dynamic volleyball player who will be a force in the Big Ten," Benet coach Brad Baker said. "It is hard to find difference makers at the libero position, but Tiffany is one of the few in the nation who are."
Clark is the latest in a line of Benet defenders who have gone on to play at the Division I level, including 2009 Benet graduate Paige Vargas (Dayton), 2010 grad Brianne Riley (Kansas), 2011 graduate Kathleen Severyn (Notre Dame) and 2013 graduate Sheila Doyle (North Carolina).
Benet's 5-foot-10 sophomore backrow standout Tiffany Clark has verbally committed to play at the University of Michigan beginning in fall 2016.
Here's how I voted in the AP Illinois High School Girls Basketball Poll of 2014 due out this week:
1. Homewood-Flossmoor 15-2
2. Whitney Young 18-3
3. Marian Catholic 16-4
4. Rolling Meadows 19-3
5. Fremd 18-2
6. New Trier 19-1
7. Neuqua Valley 17-5
8. Trinity 18-4
9. Wheaton Warrenville South 18-3
1. Montini 22-1
2. Joliet Catholic 20-1
3. Morgan Park 15-3
4. Bishop McNamara 16-3
6. Quincy Notre Dame
7. Normal University
8. Burlington Central 15-4
9. Effingham 22-0
10. Coal City 20-0
And here is how the rest of the voters saw it:
1 Homewood-Flossmoor (10) 15-2 100 1
2 Young (1) 18-3 96 2
3 Rolling Meadows 19-3 85 3
4 Fremd 18-2 64 7
5 Edwardsville 17-1 61 4
6 Marian Catholic 16-4 55 6
7 WW South 18-3 47 5
8 New Trier 20-1 44 8
9 Neuqua Valley 18-5 29 9
10 Trinity 18-4 17 10
Others receiving votes: Bolingbrook 2, Hononegah 2, Huntley 1, Geneva 1, Rock Island 1.
1 Montini (15) 22-1 159 1
2 Joliet Catholic 21-1 134 2
3 Quincy Notre Dame 21-2 119 3
4 Springfield (1) 20-1 117 4
5 Morton, Ill. 20-3 85 6
6 Morgan Park 14-3 61 5
7 Washington, Ill. 16-2 55 7
8 Bishop McNamara 16-3 54 8
9 Normal U-High 17-3 25 9
10 Hillcrest 15-4 17 NR
Others receiving votes: Vernon Hills 14, Effingham 13, Champaign Centennial 8, Burlington Central 7, Rochester 5, Carbondale 2, Coal City 2, Rockford Lutheran 1, Mendota 1, Richwoods 1.
Former Barrington and University of Illinois standout and Schaumburg girls basketball coach Ashley Berggren and her Chicago Force teammates were among the guests at the pre-Super Bowl NFL Players event Sunday hosted by Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd Ward) at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago.
The Chicago Force is a member of the Women's Football Alliance (WFA), a women's tackle football league comprised of 63 teams throughout the country. The Force defeated the Dallas Diamonds 81-34 in San Diego to win the 2013 WFA National Championship.
Berggren is a wide receiver and defensive end for the Force. She had 31 catches for 669 yards (team-high 21.6 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns in 2013 for Chicago, which led the league by averaging better than 61 points per game.