Chicago Sun-Times
By Pat Brozynski

March 2014 Archives

Thumbnail image for kiera brooks.jpgKiera Brooks, (left), a 5-foot-7 junior guard from North Lawndale College Prep, verbally committed to Indiana State University earlier this week.


Brooks is an explosive athlete playing who can effectively create off the dribble or play with her back to the basket. She averaged 18.7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals per game for a team that lost to eventual state champion Young in the sectional semifinals.


"Kiera is an extremely explosive athlete with a college-ready frame," North Lawndale coach Corey Morgan said. "She has a really good understanding of the game and she is a flat-out player.


"She has a tough back to the basket game, she has developed a consistent perimeter jump shot and has a really quick first step. I'm extremely happy for Kiera and her family. Indiana State University is getting a gem."


Brooks was an all-tournament selection at the New Trier Thanksgiving tournament and scored a season-high 39 points against city championship runner-up Brooks. She is a two-time all-city selection and was an honorable all-state choice by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.


Brooks plays AAU ball for Chicago Hoops Express.


***


ashley dina.jpgAshley Dina, (right), a senior libero at Lake Zurich, officially committed to play volleyball next year at Clemson University in South Carolina. Dina was a member of the A2 Junior National Team in 2012 and helped lead her team to the 2013 Class 4A Huntley supersectional.


Clemson went 15-15 overall and 9-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season.


***


Here are the pools for the annual Tiger Classic which gets underway Thursday at Wheaton Warrenville South:


Pool A: 1, Lincoln-Way East, 2. Naperville North, 3. St. Louis DeSmet Jesuit.


Pool B. 1. Wheaton Warrenville South, 2. Neuqua Valley, 3. Lincoln-Way Central.


Pool C: 1. Brother Rice, 2. Marist, 3. Hillard Darby.


Pool D: 1. Glenbrook North, 2. Naperville Central, 3. Metea Valley.


Pool E: 1. Sandburg, 2. Downers Grove South, 3. Oak Park River Forest.


Pool F: 1. Lake Park, 2.Minooka, 3.Cincinnati Moeller.


Pool G: 1. Buffalo Grove, 2. New Trier, 3. Andrew.


Pool H: 1. Barrington, 2. Waubonsie Valley, 3. St. Rita.


Pools B, E, G and H play Thursday. No. 1 plays No. 2 at 5 p.m., No. 1 plays No. 3 at 6:30 p.m. and No. 2 plays No. 3 at 8 p.m.


***


Benedictine University, which announced earlier this year that it is adding men's volleyball to its NCAA Division III athletic offerings beginning in the fall of 2014, recently announced that it will join an eight-team conference beginning in 2015.


Benedictine will join Lakeland University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Carthage College, Dominican University, Loras College (Dubuque, Iowa) the College of Mt. St. Joseph (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Fontbonne University (St. Louis, Mo.) in the new conference.


Former Naperville Central star Dan Buehring has been named head coach of the Benedictine University men's volleyball team. Buehring was a member of two national championship teams at California Baptist University in Riverside.


***


Trinity International University in Deerfield has tossed its hat into the ring of area colleges and universities that are adding men's volleyball.


Actually, Trinity, an NAIA school, is no stranger to men's volleyball. The school dropped men's volleyball in 2001 after a 16-year run. Now, Trinity has decided to resurrect its program under former Libertyville star Dan Priest.


Priest is a Trinity alumus and former women's volleyball coach at Indiana Wesleyan. Most recently, he was a volunteer assistant for the Ball State men's program.

Thumbnail image for wieczorek 1.jpgLoyola's David Wieczorek is among the top players in the Chicago area.


Here is a look at 15 boys volleyball teams in the Chicago area that did not crack the Sun-Times Pre-season Top 10 but could break into the rankings as the season progresses:


1. St. Francis (26-10) - Coach Mike Lynch will look for his 400th career win behind four returning starters - 6-8 Jeff Jendryk (Loyola), 5-8 setter Robert Smith, 6-2 outside Greg Churney and 6-0 outside Joe Denny. Grant Garvey, Patrick Shearer and Dan Zurawski will help at the net, and Jon Messa and Ian Thompson will roam the back row.


2. New Trier (30-6) -Ousted in the regional finals by Maine South in 2013, the Trevians will reload behind 6-3 junior Dante Chakravorti, 6-6 middle Jack Serrino, libero Brian Hammes and 6-foot outside Henry Levee. Vying to replace three graduated starters are 6-4 junior Andrew Sommer, 6-7 junior Collin Crowder and 6-1 sophomore Peter Hindsley.


3. Downers Grove South (31-10) - Nine players return for the 2013 state champions - however, none of them are named Timreck, DeMarco or Adank. Coach Kurt Steuer does welcome back setter Jordan Pawlicki, 6-5 outside Mike Schmitt, 6-6 Will Tischler and libero Tyler Zawaski. "We have some newcomers we are looking at to come in and fill spots," Steuer said.


4. Brother Rice (28-10) - Coach Paul Ickes (22 years, 517-238-2) is stepping down after this season, and the Crusaders would like nothing more than to reward him with a state trophy. Six-foot-4 senior outside Mitch Weiler (Ball State), 6-5 senior middle Kevin Myren, 6-2 senior middle Matt Mandernach and setter Jim Dwyer return.


5. Glenbrook South (29-10-1) - Six-foot-7 senior Anthony Lebryk , who has inked with Ball State, 6-6 junior Pawel Rafalo (Pen n State) and 6-2 outside Jake Carr are back for another run at Hoffman Estates. "We plan to be competitive up here in the Central Suburban League and with Loyola and Vernon Hills," coach Tim Monahan said.


6. Wheaton Warrenville South (19-18) - After winning it all in 2012, the Tigers fell to earth (for them) and were unable to get out of the regional last year. But look for WW South to get back to its usual form in 2014 behind 6-6 outside Jared Wilcox, 6-4 sophomore Zack Meyer, 6-2 junior Kolbie Knorr and junior libero John Hildebrand. Glenbard East transfer Ben Carpio will set.


7. Glenbard West (27-10) - The Hilltoppers lost to Downers Grove South 23-25, 25-20, 25-13 in the regional final, and could be waiting there again with libero Andrew Roberts, setter Alec Garwood, last year's kill leader outside hitter Kyle Blaine, 6-5 junior middle Parker Swartz, 6-3 junior opposite Jackson Nagle, and Paulie Bischoff and Kyler Kotsakis off last year's undefeated JV team.


8. Minooka (36-3) - Setter Phil Hannon and middle extraordinaire Maalik Walker have moved on, but Minooka may have another run left in it. Six-foot-10 Justin Toth, outsides Mason Novak and 6-5 Mitch Perinar, and sophomore setter Brandon Baranski give coach Janel Grzetich something to build on. But who will inherit Hannon's leadership role?


9. Glenbrook North (30-6) - "The key to our team will be our ability to get the ball to our two returning middles," coach Chris Cooper said. Those middles are 6-6 Zach Lillig and 6-6 junior Bob Chatterton. Eric Markus and junior Derek Goldstein will share setting duties. There are a lot of holes to fill - both outsides, a rightside and a libero.


10. Marist (20-16) - Eight returning seniors including 6-9 middle hitter Matt Munro are reasons for optimism on the south side. "We expect to have a better season than last," coach Jodi Frigo said. Also back are 6-3 rightside Jake Moran, setter Tim Hauser and 5-11 outside Ivan DelBosque. The RedHawks will host their season-opening tournament this weekend.


11. 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 (785 assists, 43 aces, 99 kills in 2013). Michael Dean will move outside from his libero spot, and Rob Watkins (153 kills) is also back.


12. Hersey (20-18) -Hersey finished at .500 in the Mid-Suburban East reached the regional final and eliminated Glenbrook North. Six-foot-5 junior Bart Migus, one of the best in the northwest, 6-4 senior setter Matt Torvik, 6-7 senior middle Mike Fuerst and 6-3 senior Matt Aguilar will try to lead the Huskies back to state for the first time since 2005.


13. Naperville Central (18-17) - Former Naperville North coach Roger Strausberger returns to the sidelines on the other side of town. He inherits four-year starter outside Jon Chiczewski, 6-4 junior outside Jackson Burton, setter Dan Trembacki, 6-4 middle Michael Timmerberg and libero Raymond Chang. Watch 6-3 junior outside Kasper Mazurek.


14. Naperville North (24-13) - Three starters are back from the team that won the DuPage Valley conference and a regional title before losing to Downers South in a sectional semifinal, including setter Kevin Romy and 6-3 outside Jake Hafen. Newcomers are libero Will Littell, 6-3 junior Jack Lenert, 6-4 middle Frank Dore and 6-1 junior Jack Rothmund.


15. Andrew (15-17-1) - Always among the top teams in the south suburbs, the Thunderbolts will look to compete with Sandburg and the Lincoln-Ways behind returning starters 6-9 middle Nick VanderZanden, 5-11 junior Sanil Thomas and 6-1 rightside Neal Hausmann . "We have an athletic group and a deep bench with six seniors returning from last year," coach Courtney Stoub said.


***


Here are 20 players who just missed making the 30 players to watch list:


Doug Aremka, 6-4, Sr., MH, Plainfield North
Colin Castagna, 6-4, Sr., MH, Barrington
Jackson Burton, 6-4, Jr., OH, Naperville Central
Jon Chiczewski, 6-1, Sr., OH, Naperville Central
Quin Krisik, 6-1, Sr., S, Lake Park
Nicholas Lau, 5-8, Jr., L, Young
Jake Lendy, 6-1, Sr., S, Notre Dame
Steve Lendy, 6-1, Sr., OH, Notre Dame
Zach Lillig, 6-6, Sr., MH, Glenbrook North
Joe Loftus, 6-7, Sr., OH, St. Ignatius
Collin Merk, 5-11, Sr., L, Loyola
Garrett Metzger, 6-5, Sr., MH, Benet
Bart Migus, 6-5, Jr., OH, Hersey
Matt Munro, 6-9, Sr., MB, Marist
Ryan Opitz, 6-4, Sr., S. Vernon Hills
Pawel Rafalo, 6-6, Jr., MB, Glenbrook South
Robert Smith, 5-8, Sr., S. St. Francis
Max Spiglanin, 6-1, Sr., OH, Vernon Hills
Ian Zalewski, 6-0, Sr., S, Sandburg
Tyler Zowaski, 5-11, Sr., L, Downers Grove South


***


Minooka is hosting a girls volleyball play date Friday, July 18. Last year, 12 teams participated. The goal of the day is to have kids compete against other schools and give prospective varsity candidates a chance to perform before tryouts.


Teams will be placed in pools and play two sets to 25 (no cap), but there will be no playoffs. Play starts at 8 a.m. and finishes about 1 p.m. There will be officials for the matches. There is no charge to participate.


For more information, contact Chris Hoelscher, head volleyball coach, at (630) 207-3437.


***

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 jwildes@ben.edu.


***

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 nbornancin@naperville203.org if interested.


Robinson.jpgFormer St. Francis standout Kelsey Robinson, who wrapped up her collegiate career at Nebraska this fall, is among 19 nominees for the 84th Amateur Athletic Union James E. Sullivan Award, which has been presented annually since 1930 and recognizes character, leadership and sportsmanship.


Robinson, a resident of Bartlett, started in all 33 matches during Nebraska's 2013 season, totaling 530 kills and averaging 4.45 kills per set. Robinson hit at a clip of .318 for the year, with 396 digs and averaging 3.33 digs per set.


She led the Big Ten in kills (4.69) and points per set (5.41) during the conference season, amassing 352 kills during Big Ten play with a hitting percentage of .349. She ended her senior season ranked ninth in hitting percentage, second in kills and fifth in aces in the Big Ten.


Robinson's 530 kills were the fifth-most kills by a Husker all-time and her 1,206 attacks gave her the No. 7 spot on Nebraska's all-time chart. She collected 19 double-doubles and was named the Big Ten Player of the Week four times.


Robinson was also honored as the AVCA/Sports Imports Player of the Week and was named to the 2013 AVCA First-Team All-American and First-Team North Region. She also added the 2013 All-Big Ten and 2013 Big Ten Player of the Year awards to her expansive collection.


Robinson not only helps her team on the court, but she is an asset to her community as well. She has volunteered for Red Ribbon Week, the Dance Marathon and helped out at Lincoln Public Schools.


Previous winners of the Sullivan Award include J.J. Reddick, Tim Tebow, Mark Spitz, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Joyner, Peyton Manning, Michael Phelps and Shawn Johnson.


For more information, to check out the other nominees or to vote, go to http://www.aausports.org/News/View-Story/ArtMID/1108/ArticleID/52405/Vote-for-84th-AAU-Sullivan-Award.


***


The Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press are currently conducting voting for the 2013-14 Ms. Basketball award.


Nominees include (in alphabetical order):


Ali Andrews, 6-foot-2 sophomore forward from Huntley, who averaged18.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. She set a school record for total points in a single season after leading Huntley to the Class 4A final four and fourth-place finish in 2013.

Chrissy Baird, a 6-1 forward from Wheaton North, who averaged 15.1 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Baird holds five school records, including all-time leading scorer with 1,076 points and all-time leading rebounder with 828 career rebounds.


Aysia Bugg, a 5-9 guard from Bolingbrook who is committed to Pittsburgh, averaged 15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2 steals per game.Although her scoring was down from last season, she assumed the role of team leader for a young team that won 20 games.


Tyra Buss, a 5-7 guard from downstate Mount Carmel and an Indiana recruit, averaged 44.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 6.0 steals per game and made 137 three-pointers. Illinois' all-time leading scorer (4,897 points) scored 1,466 points this season and is second all-time in the nation in career scoring.


LaTondra Brooks, a 5-6 guard from Oak Lawn, averaged 13.8 points, 5.5 assists and 6.9 steals per game from a team that was 25-1 during the regular season record and won South Suburban Conference Red and IHSA Class 4A regional championships. She had 14 assists and 14 steals in a game.

Kortney Dunbar, a 6-2 guard from Edwardsville who is headed to Tennessee, averaged 18 points and 9.4 rebounds per game with 65 assists and 50 steals. She helped lead the Tigers to a Class 4A state runner-up finish in 2012, and has led the team to an overall record of 118-5 in her four years.


Olivia Elger, a 5-7 junior guard from Peoria Richwoods, averaged 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Elger was named to all-tournament teams at the Morton Invitational, the State Farm Classic and the Sterling Tournament.

Liza Fruendt, a 5-9 guard from Batavia and Missouri State recruit, averaged 25 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 4.1 steals per game. The all-time leading scorer in Batavia history torched Class 4A state semifinalist Geneva for 51 points on January 17.

Haley Gorecki, a 6-foot junior guard from Fremd, averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.5 steals per game. A three-year all-conference player and Mid-Suburban West Player of the Year, Gorecki has offers from UConn, Duke, Louisville, UCLA, Michigan State and others.

Khaalia Hillsman, a 6-5 center from Clas 4A state champion Whitney Young who is committed to Texas A&M, averaged 15 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks per game. Hillsman helped lead Young to four straight city championships.

Jackie Kemph, a 5-6 guard from Rolling Meadows and the Sun-Times Player of the Year, averaged 21.6 points, 8.4 assists and 2.1 steals. The St. Louis recruit led Rolling Meadows to back-to-back second-place finishes and scored more than 2,000 career points.

Jasmine Lumpkin, a 6-0 forward from Joliet Catholic who is headed to Michigan State, averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 3 steals for the Class 3A runner-ups. Lumpkin was nominated to both the McDonald's All-American Team and as Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year.

Tori McCoy, a 6-4 sophomore forward from Class 2A champion St. Thomas More, averaged 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game. McCoy broke the school's single-season rebounding mark (305) and double-double mark (19) as a freshman.

Ashton Millender, a 5-10 guard from Marian Catholic and a DePaul recruit, averaged 15.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and shot 40 percent from the three-point line for the Class 4A third-place finishers. Millender's buzzer-beater against Marist propelled Marian Catholic to the 2013 Class 4A championship.

Molly McGraw, a 5-8 guard from Bloomington Central Catholic who is headed to Illinois Wesleyan, averaged 20.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. McGraw finished her career with nearly 1,700 points and was a State Farm Holiday Classic first-team selection for three years.


Teniya Page, a 5-7 juniorfrom Marian Catholic, was the starting point guard for Marian Catholic's 2013 Class 4A state title team and its 2014 third-place finisher. Page is being pursued by a number of major college programs.

Lauren Prochaska, a 5-8 points guard from Trinity who is headed to DePaul, averaged 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3.5 steals per game. She was the Player of the Year in the GCAC Red and a two-time Sun-Times all-area selection. Prochaska led Trinity to 106 wins in her four-year career.

Gabrielle Rush, a 5-10 junior guard from Hinsdale Central, averaged 21 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.7 steals per game. She made 58 three-pointers and shot 82.2 percent from free-throw line.Rush scored 30 or more points five times this season and holds single-game school record with 39 points.


Sydney Smith, a 5-10 senior guard from Vernon Hills who is committed to Vermont, averaged 20.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per game. Smith holds nearly every scoring record at Vernon Hills and and is the school's all-time leading scorer with more than 1,600 points.

Kateri Stone, a 6-1 senior guard from Montini who is headed to Colgate in the fall, averaged 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the 2014 Class 3A champions. She is the school's all-time leading three-point shooter and a two-time state champion.


Maddie Timmermann, a 5-10 senior forward from Breese Central and a Maryville University recruit, averaged 15.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. MVP of the Highland and Pana tournaments, she is the second all-time leading scorer at Breese Central with nearly 1,500 points.

Meghan Waldron, a 5-10 senior guard from Wheaton Warrenville South who is headed to DePaul, averaged 22 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals per game. WW South's all-time leading scorer (1,893 points) won four straight DVC titles, three regionals and one sectional title in her career.


Taylor Will, a 5-11 junior guard from Prospect, averaged 19.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals. She tied the school's single-game scoring record with 37 points against Wheaton North, and her 1,222 career points are third-best in Prospect history.

Kendra Wilken, a 6-2 sophomore center from Breese Central, averaged 17.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. She was named to the all-tournament team at the Pana Thanksgiving Tournament, Mascoutah Christmas Tournament and Highland Invitational.


***

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 jwildes@ben.edu.


***

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 nbornancin@naperville203.org if interested.

Montini's Nichols channels his inner Valvano

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Thumbnail image for Copy of Haley Gorecki.jpg
(Left) Fremd's Haley Gorecki


Montini coach Jason Nichols channeled his inner Jimmy Valvano when talking about his team's comeback against Burlington Central in Friday's Class 3A semifinal.


"It's a grind," he said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, you just have to keep fighting and fighting and fighting. I'll bet they (his players) will probably tell you I was probably a little more calm, more relaxed than I ever am. You may see me going nuts from time to time, but it wasn't like that.


"At the end of the day, if you're going to lose that game, you're going to lose that game," Nichols added. "Sara Ross wasn't at her best. Kelly (Karlis) and Kateri (Stone) will tell you that they could have been better, but Burlington Central did some things to prevent that. You just have to persevere.


"It's such a cliché, but it's the honest-to-God truth," he added. "You just have to keep fighting."


***


Saturday's Class 3A state championship game marked the end of the high school careers of Montini's Kateri Stone, Kelly Karlis and Sara Ross, who will leave with a career record of 138-10, three state titles and a third-place finish a year ago.


Last year's third-place finish weighed heavily on the Broncos' minds.


"Thinking about last year made us a little nervous yesterday," Karlis said. "That was in the back of our minds. We didn't want it to happen again. Today, we were super determined. We didn't want to give up. We didn't want to have to go through the pain of getting second-, third- or fourth-place medals."


***


Next year, Montini will make the jump to Class 4A. Montini beat two of the three Class 4A semifinalists this year and lost a close game to Young, but the Broncos also graduate their top three players in Kateri Stone, Kelly Karlis and Sara Ross.


"Moving up to 4A?" Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "There's not sadness. My sadness is because of the seniors and how loyal they were to me, the run they've had here, three firsts and a third, 130 something wins, 138 and 10. That's incredible. That's an unbelievable four-year run.


"We beat good teams, too. One of the things I'm proud of is we beat the team that's in the 4A finals, we beat Marian who was in the 4A semis, we played Young to a tight game until we couldn't make a layup. So we've played great team regardless of class.


"So I think we'll be able to handle it," Nichols added.


***


With four sophomores and a junior in his starting five, Burlington Central coach Mark Smith had reason to believe his team would bounce back from Friday's loss to Montini not only Saturday, but next year and the year after that.


"The sting of the loss is going to affect them for a little while," Smith said. "I know the resolve of this team and this family. They're going to rebound quickly. It was a fantastic game for Central Rockets, a fantastic effort. We came up a little bit short. It slipped through our fingers at the end.


"We knew they (Montini) were going to come after us," he added. "We weathered the storm in third quarter, but when we started getting defensive rebounds we saw they were going to put pressure on us right away. They got a few steals and we lost (Montini's Lea) Kerstein that one time."


***


Geneva's Morgan Seberger, whose older sister Alison plays at Illinois State, appeared to make two game-changing three-pointers early in the fourth quarter of the Vikings' semifinal loss to Rolling Meadows.


"I think the two three-pointers changed the momentum a lot," she said. "We knew going into the third quarter, we knew that we were down and needed to get back up, get the momentum and keep confidence in our teammates. Keep going. Keep pushing. We tried our best."


***


Nasty is not normally the kind of adjective a girl wants to hear. But in basketball, "nasty" can often be a complement.


"I made a comment to her (Alexis Glasgow) the other day after the New Trier game," Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. "Unfortunately, she didn't last very long in that game (Glasgow broke her nose in the second quarter).


"She made a couple of drives and had a couple of defensive rebounds, and I told her it was the best rebound I saw in her career," he added. "Her shooting is what everybody knows her for, but what makes her special is that she's that tough nasty kid who does everything she did that in the fourth quarter (against Geneva)."


***


Celebrity sighting: Aaron Williams, a 1989 graduate of Rolling Meadows who spent 14 years in the NBA with stops at Utah, Milwaukee, Denver, Memphis, Seattle, Washington New Jersey, Toronto, Charlotte and Los Angeles, was rooting for Young in Saturday's Class 4A championship game.


Williams' daughter, Danyelle, is a 5-foot-11 freshman for the Dolphins.


***


Kelsey Walsberg of Class 3A Pontiac and Jasmin Bailey of Class 4A Ottawa won their respective three-point shooting contests Saturday at Redbird Arena.


Fremd's Haley Gorecki, who beat out St. Charles East's Kyra Washington in a shootout to advance to the final four in Class 4A, Lincoln-Way North's Samantha Pietruszynski and Jacobs' Alyssa Lach were the only local players among the four finalists in either class.


Local players among the 32 Class 3A qualifiers included junior Megan Pfister of Evergreen Park, sophomore Paula Castro of Montini, sophomore Amara Graham of Brooks, freshman Leah Sims of South Shore, junior Frin Schaffrath of Bremen and junior Bailey Gilbert of Sycamore.


Also, Tomei Ball of Glenbard South, junior Taylor Brooks of Jones, senior Joe Monks of Evergreen Park, freshman Natalie Pawlak of Lakes, sophomore Jamie Netzley of Wheaton Academy, junior Mia Polisky of Vernon Hills, Samantha Rodriguez of North Chicago and Page Gallimore of Antioch.


Local players among the 32 Class 4A qualifiers included Jenny Vliet of Rolling Meadows, junior Katelyn LoRusso of Reavis, Alex Galanopoulos of Niles West, junior Kyra Washington of St. Charles East, sophomore Illana Malman of Glenbrook North and sophomore Kiki Sheard of Fenwick.


Also, Angie Kirchoff of Barrington, junior Emily Kraft of Naperville Central, sophomore Gabrielle Cooper of Marian Catholic, McKayla Smith of Andrew, Melissa Solorio of Elk Grove, junior Katie Barker of Cary-Grove, junior Katie Roycroft of Maine West and Erin Jacobsen of Aurora West.


Also, sophomore Tehya Fortune of Marist, Sarah LeBeau of Prairie Ridge, Venita Parson of Oswego East, Sharnita Breeze of Argo, sophomore Jeannette Villezcas of Aurora East, junior Victoria Swift of Lyons, junior Tatiana Doroskin of Schaumburg, and sophomore Haley Greer of Deerfield.


Also, junior Alondra Chavarria of Leyden and sophomore Megan Backman of York.


***


Where were the women?


Officials are assigned to the state finals based on ratings by schools and six or seven other factors. However, the 12 officials assigned to the Class 3A and 4A girls state basketball finals included zero - that's zero as in none - women officials.


***


One suggestion making the rounds at the state tournament was moving boys Class 3A and 4A regional finals to Thursday - mirroring the girls schedule - to avoid interfering with the Class 3A and 4A girls state finals.


Attendance at Friday's Class 4A semifinal between Young and Marian Catholic bordered on embarrassing. Perhaps fewer than 400 people attended the game. Part of the problem? CPS schools - boys or girls - never travel well, and both schools' boys teams played in regional finals Friday.


wieczorek 2.jpgBoys 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)


First team
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


Second team
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)


First team
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


Second team
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 jwildes@ben.edu.


***


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 nbornancin@naperville203.org if interested.

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