Boys volleyball is almost here. Can spring be far behind?
Fans will get to see some of the best basketball players in the state this weekend during the girls Class 3A and 4A finals in Normal, including Montini's Kateri Stone and Joliet Catholic's Jasmine Lumpkin, who could go toe-to-toe in the championship game.
In case you missed it, here are the Class 3A and Class 4A Illinois all-state girls basketball teams, as voted on by a panel of statewide sports writers and broadcasters.
CLASS 3A FIRST TEAM
Kateri Stone, Montini, 6-1, Sr.; Khadaizha Sanders, Bishop McNamara, 5-5, Jr.; Kristen Gengenbacher, Quincy Notre Dame, 5-8, Sr.; Jasmine Lumpkin, Joliet Catholic, 6-0, Sr.; Olivia Elger, Peoria Richwoods, 5-7, Jr.
CLASS 3A SECOND TEAM
Mary Beth Hugenberg, Quincy Notre Dame, 5-10, Sr.; Sydney Smith, Vernon Hills, 5-10, Sr.; McKena Miller, Carbondale, 5-11, Sr.; Samantha Pryor, Burlington Central, 6-0, So.; Morgan Dahlstrom, Grayslake Central, 6-1, Sr.
CLASS 3A HONORABLE MENTION
Paige Gallimore (Antioch, 5-6, Sr.), Alyssa Jurges (Providence, 5-8, Jr.), Kylie Giebelausen (East Peoria, 6-1, Sr.), Jess Learned (Washington, 5-11, Jr.), Molly DeBrock (Geneseo, 5-9, Sr.), Julia Rosen (Springfield, 5-9, Sr.), Tiana Cook (Decatur Eisenhower, 5-9, Sr.), Chandler Ryan (Morton, 5-6, So.), Anika Webster (Springfield, 5-11, Sr.), Emily Hoard (Massac County, 5-9, Jr.), Matti Bielfeldt (Peoria Notre Dame, 6-0, Sr.), Tori Johnson (Herrin, 5-7, Sr.).
CLASS 4A FIRST TEAM
Khaalia Hillsman, Whitney Young, 6-5, Sr.; Jackie Kemph, Rolling Meadows, 5-6, Sr.; Kortney Dunbar, Edwardsville, 6-2, Sr.; Haley Gorecki, Fremd, 6-0, Jr.; Meghan Waldron, Wheaton Warrenville South, 5-10, Sr.
CLASS 4A SECOND TEAM
Ashton Millender, Marian Catholic, 5-10, Sr.; Liza Fruendt, Batavia, 5-8, Sr.; Teniya Page, Marian Catholic, 5-7, Jr.; Aysia Bugg, Bolingbrook, 5-9, Sr.; Chrissy Baird, Wheaton North, 6-1, Sr.
CLASS 4A HONORABLE MENTION
Brittany Collins (Maine West, 6-0, Sr.), Alexis Glasgow (Rolling Meadows, 5-11, Sr.), Ali Andrews (Huntley, 6-2, So.), Aailyah Covington (Edwardsville, 5-11, Sr.), Gabrielle Rush (Hinsdale Central, 5-10, Jr.), Latondra Brooks (Oak Lawn, 5-6, Sr.), Lauren Prochaska (Trinity, 5-8, Sr.), Martha Bruse (Bradley-Bourbonnais, 5-6, Sr.), Deanna Kuzmanic (Wheeling, 5-9, Jr.), Jenny Vliet (Rolling Meadows, 6-2, Sr.), Jensen Blassage (Rockford Boylan, 5-8, Sr.), Karley Kolberg (Rockton Hononegah, 5-10, Sr.), Shay Fluker (Belleville West, 5-10, Jr.).
Here's how I voted:
Class 4A (in alphabetical order)
Liza Fruendt, 5-9, Sr., G, Batavia
Haley Gorecki, 6-0, Jr., G. Fremd
Jackie Kemph, 5-6, Sr., G, Rolling Meadows
Ashton Millender, 5-10, Sr., G, Marian Catholic
Meghan Waldron, 5-10, Sr., G, Wheaton Warrenville South
Latondra Brooks, 5-6, Sr., G, Oak Lawn
Aysia Bugg, 5-8, Sr., G, Bolingbrook
Gabrielle Rush, 5-10, Jr., G, Hinsdale Central
Teniya Page, 5-7, Jr,. G, Marian Catholic
Lauren Prochaska, 5-8, Sr., G, Trinity
Class 3A (in alphabetical order)
Kristen Gengenbacher, Sr., PG, 5-8, Quincy Notre Dame
Jasmine Lumpkin, 6-0, Sr., F, Joliet Catholic
Khadaizha Sanders, junior guard, Bishop McNamara
Sydney Smith, 5-10, Sr., G, Vernon Hills
Kateri Stone, 6-1, Sr., G, Montini
Mary Beth Hugenberg, 5-10, Sr., F, Quincy Notre Dame
Alyssa Jurges, 5-8, Jr., G, Providence
Samantha Pryor, 5-9, So., F, Burlington Central
Julia Rosen, 6-8, Sr., G, Springfield
Anika Webster, 5-11, Sr., F, Springfield
It's almost spring (now if only Mother Nature would realize that). Here's a glance at some (emphasis on some, not all) of the boys volleyball teams that could be good in 2014 (based on players who were on their team's 2013 roster) with 2013 records in parenthesis:
1. Lincoln-Way East (35-4) - Sun-Times Player of the Year Austin Royer returns -- as does everybody but backup setter Tommy Piet - as the Griffins will try to make another run at state. Also returning are outsides Nate Van Dellen and Ryan Vorderer, and probably a healthier Josh Phalen, whose late-season injury was devastating.
2. Lincoln-Way North (37-4) - Like the mythical bird, the Phoenix will rise from the ashes of their state final loss to Downers South. They will still have probably the best 1-2 outside punch in the state in Jake Walenga and Brad McFarland and a physical middle in Ken Christensen, but replacing libero Zach Blasgen may be the most difficult task.
3. Deerfield (32-7) - Nobody thought much of it when Deerfield and Downers Grove South went three sets in the quarterfinals. Every quarterfinal went three sets. But that was as close as anyone got to Downers South. The Warriors should make another strong push in 2014 with outsides Zach Hara and John Harlan.
4. Wheaton Warrenville South (18-20) - Unlike 2012, the Tigers didn't turn over the entire roster at season's end, and you have to like what WW South has coming back in 6-6 outside Jared Wilcox, 6-5 senior Logan Wiese, 6-4 sophomore Zack Meyer and junior libero John Hildebrand. Now the Tigers just need to find a setter.
5. Waubonsie Valley (14-21) - A top five team until Michael Simmons and Luke Furman went down with injuries. Simmons came back and got the Warriors to the sectional semifinals and could again in 2014 with help from 6-4 middle Connor Douville, senior outside Tim Williams, libero Andrew Salmon and sophomore setter Jake Furman.
6. Lake Park (25-13) - With every player on the roster returning save one (Dillon Hock) from a sectional finalist, Tim Murphy's troops will be tough to handle next season. Among the best of a huge senior class are setter Quin Krisik, 6-5 middles Sean Moore and Derek Burke, 6-3 opposite Shawn Fritsche and 6-2 outside Dominick Terry.
7. Vernon Hills (32-7) - All of the key players return for coach Chris Curry and the Cougars, including 6-4 senior setter Ryan Opitz, 6-2 senior outside Michael Heinz and juniors Max Spiglanin and 6-5 Lem Turner, the latter virtually coming out of nowhere down the stretch to lead Vernon Hills to the sectional finals.
8. St. Francis (26-10) - The Spartans were stung by Michael Simmons and Waubonsie Valley in the regional and have some holes to fill. But Mike Lynch does welcome back three exceptional seniors in setter Robert Smith, outside Greg Churney and 6-7 middle Jeff Jendryk. Senior Grant Garvey could play a bigger role next season.
9. Downers Grove South (31-10) - Six-foot-6 junior Will Tischler will return, as will setter Jordan Pawlicki and 6-5 outside Mike Schmitt. But the Mustangs will have plenty of holes to fill with the loss of libero David DeMarco and middles Nick Timreck and Austin Adank. Look for 5-11 senior Tyler Zawaski to inherit the off-color jersey.
10. Brother Rice (28-10) - It took a while for the Crusaders to get it going and then they were battling some health issues down the stretch, but with seniors Mitch Weiler, Kevin Myren and Matt Mandernach leading the way next year, they should have enough firepower at the very least to keep the Lincoln-Ways honest.
11. Loyola (31-7) - The Ramblers fell into a funk at the Maine South tournament - losing to Hersey and Palatine - from which they never seemed to fully recover. They lose setter James McCabe and outside Sean Barry, but bring back 6-7 Sun-Times all-area selection David Wieczorek, libero Collin Merk and 6-6 junior middle Jakub Mazurek
12. Glenbrook South (26-12-2) - Will Koslozki and Matt Kaiser leave some big shoes to fill, but the Titans have some big feet to replace them in 6-6 junior Pawel Rafalo, 6-7 senior Anthony Lebryk, and 6-2 outside Jake Carr. Glenbrook South's road to Hoffman Estates could go through Loyola Academy again.
13. Benet (25-11) - Amy Van Eekeren's Redwings will be a force to reckon with despite the loss of East Suburban Catholic Conference MVP Sawyer Yeazel. Sophomore setter Ben Mazza will have a year of experience and won't have to look far to find some go-to guys in 6-11 Ricky Gevis, 6-4 middle Garrett Metzger and 6-1 junior outside Scott Kleiser.
14. Glenbard West (27-10) - Downers South's run to a state title began with a 23-25, 25-20, 25-13 win over the Hilltoppers in the regional final. Gone are Johnny Davis and Jacob Stone, but coach Christine Giunta will reload with seniors Alec Garwood, Andrew Roberts and Galen Horvath and juniors 6-4 Jackson Nagle and 6-5 Parker Swartz.
15. Hersey (20-18) - Sometimes good, sometimes not, Hersey finished at .500 in the Mid-Suburban East but took out Glenbrook North in the regional final. Six-foot-5 junior Bart Migus, 6-4 senior setter Matt Torvik, 6-7 senior middle Mike Fuerst and 6-3 senior Matt Aguilar could lead the Huskies back to state for the first time since 2005.
16. Minooka (36-3) - Is Minooka's run at the top of the southwest heap coming to an end? A healthy 6-10 Justin Toth and outsides Mason Novak, Mitch Perinar and sophomore Brandon Baranski give coach Janel Grzetich something to build on. But the loss of setter Phil Hannon's leadership and middle Maalik Walker's athleticism and energy are severe.
17. Barrington (28-9) - The Mid-Suburban West co-champs lost to Deerfield 25-15, 22-25, 26-24 in the sectional semifinals. Don't be surprised if the two tangle again next year. Back are setters Noah Richetti and Tommy Soifer, 6-3 outside Connor Wright, outsides Adam (6-3) and Justin (6-4) Glader, and middles 6-4 Colin Castagna and 6-8 Ethan Carroll.
18. Lyons (31-4) - The Lions lost a lot to graduation - leading attacker Kyle Smuda, outside Clayton Smentek, Aidan Spangler, 6-9 middle Gabe Fisher - but return one of the best setters in the state in Marko Kostich. Who will he set? Maybe Rob Watkins and Michael Dean. Or maybe somebody will set Kostich?
19. Payton (28-8) - Senior Earl Schultz and company should have one more run at that elusive first win at state. Joining Schultz (267 kills, 237 digs this year) next season will be outside Alex Brown, setter Lincoln Wang and middle Ryan Krull. Casey Feeney will need some help from his youngsters.
Other teams to watch: Elk Grove, Lake Forest, Morton, Naperville Central, Sandburg, Warren.
Benedictine University will host a Spring Break Volleyball Camp for boys and girls in grades K-8 from March 31-April 3. The cost is $65. For more information, contact Benedictine University head volleyball coach Jen Wildes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naperville North is looking for a freshman boys team to join its tournament on Saturday, May 17. Each team will be guaranteed five matches. Email Naperville North head coach Nate Bornancin at email@example.com if interested.