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Back Row: August 2009 Archives

Prepvolleyball.com released its rankings of 75 of the top 100 high schools in the nation early this week. The list included five schools from Illinois - Joliet Catholic, St. Charles East, Mother McAuley, St. Francis and Lyons.

Prepvolleyball.com editor John Tawa differed with the Chicago Sun-Times rankings, flip-flopping Joliet Catholic and St. Charles East. The two schools could settle the issue on the court when they meet October 17 at Glenbard East's Autumnfest.

Here is what Tawa had to say about the five Illinois schools (preceded by national ranking):

8. Joliet Catholic
Last year's record: 39-3; 2008 final ranking: 13

The Angels, a surprise winner of the Illinois 3A title in 2008, should repeat in 2009 behind a lineup that returns virtually intact. Leading the way is 5-8 senior OH Annemarie Hickey, whom the Chicago Sun-Times' Phil Brozynski calls "inch-for-inch and pound-for-pound the toughest player in the state." Also back for JCA are 5-9 senior outside Alyssa Warren, 6-0 senior middle Claire Randich and 6-1 junior middle Lainey Wyman. Senior Jennifer Murphy, sister of budding Florida Gator star Kelly Murphy, will get the call at setter while Stephanie Keca returns at libero.

19. St. Charles East
Last year's record: 38-4; 2008 final ranking: 14

The defending Illinois 4A champs graduated two big-time contributors, setter Laura Homann and middle Haley Streich, but should be formidable again in 2009 behind senior setter/hitter Jacqui Seidel, a Ball State recruit, and the talented Niski sisters, Caroline and Meghan, who are as good in the back row as they are on attack. Feisty libero Maisey Mulvey returns to anchor what should be a very strong passing team, while 6-2 Olivia Desormey and 5-10 Samantha Szarmach add to the firepower for coach Jennie Kull.

29. St. Francis
Last year's record: 38-4; 2008 final ranking: 38

If outside hitters Kelsey Robinson and Meg Vonderhaar stay healthy, the Spartans will win a lot of matches in 2009 simply by hoisting the ball to the pin and letting their 6-1 smackers bang away. Senior setter Kristen Kelsay, she of the wonderful hands and SPVB 18 Elite pedigree, will be doing the hoisting this fall. Vonderhaar currently is nursing a severe ankle sprain that may slow her early in the season, which may be a blessing for coach Peg Kopec, who is nearing 1,000 career wins, because it will give the venerable coach a chance to develop some promising younger players. One such player is sophomore middle Daiva Wise, who is a nice blocker and has emerged as the surprise of training camp. Cassie Rio, Gabrielle Zito, Gina Madonia and Katie Parisi are four more Spartans who should contribute to the cause in '09.

62. Mother McAuley
Last year's record: 39-3; 2008 final ranking: 17

"Rebuilding" is not part of the vernacular at Mother McAuley. But the Mighty Macs have some work to do after losing Chicago Sun-Times player of the Year Desiree Aramburu, Kelly Griffin, Catherine Wildner, Sue Hayes, Allie Gardner and three others to graduation. Coach Jen DeJarld will rely on four seniors to lead the attack. Two, MB Jess Galotta and OH Jessica Falk, are three-year starters. MB Paulina Sambor and OH Ellen Carberry will start for their second year. DeJarld also expects big things from junior Mary Kate Styler. The biggest question will come at setter, where either junior Kailey Scott or sophomore lefty Ryann Arundel will get the nod.

71. Lyons Township
Last year's record: 28-12; 2008 final ranking: 346

Lyons was a young team just starting to find itself in 2008. This year, watch the Lions roar. Eight key contributors return for coach Joann Pyritz, including sophomore setter Alexis Viliunas and OH Laura Williams, two key cogs in the Lions 15-1 team that was ranked first nationally for much of the club season. Senior middles Katie Bazzoni and Tiffany Vasquez should give Lyons an advantage at the net over most teams in Illinois, while on the right, junior Erin Juley, who also is a capable setter, has already accepted a Division I scholarship offer to Long Beach State. With Jamie Lundstrom returning to anchor the back row and Maureen Stroka, Jocelyn Birks, Megan Miller, Julia Karas and Ashley Bleck also back, look for Lyons to easily eclipse 30 wins in 2009 and make a run at the Illinois 4A title.

Odds and ends while waiting for the season to start:

There are two Molly Murphys on the Marist volleyball roster this fall. One is a senior and the other is a junior. They are not related, but the senior Molly Murphy has a younger sister, Shannon, who is playing on the freshman volleyball team.

Lindsey Van Schepen in the new varsity volleyball coach at Timothy Christian, which joins the Metro Suburban Conference this season.

Barrington has two sets of sisters on its varsity roster - junior twins Mallory and Meagan Combs and sisters Madison (junior) and Payton (freshman) Lang.

Kathy Sulkowski takes over for Joann Holverson at Lincoln-Way Central. Holverson led Sandburg to a girls state title in 1998.

The faces look familiar, only the name has been changed. Former Suburban Catholic Conference powers Rosary, St. Francis, St. Edward and Marian Central Catholic are joined by former Private League members Wheaton Academy and Chicago Christian in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division.

Katrina Ernst is the new volleyball coach at Walther Lutheran. The realignments of private school conferences also affected Walther Lutheran. The Broncos are not in a conference this season.

Plainfield North participated in the University of Wisconsin team camp this summer, where it lost in the championship match in three sets to three-time defending Wisconsin state champion Waupan High School. The Tigers' Kylee Baker was named to the all-tournament team.

Benet graduated six Division I players from last year's 40-2 team, but still won the Fusion Summer League and the Great Lakes Center Summer League.

Waubonsie Valley visits Neuqua Valley on September 15 to "Volley for the Cure." The teams hope to raise more than $5,000 for breast cancer research. Ironically, because of the opening of Metea Valley High School and subsequent rezoning in Indian Prairie District 204, several former Neuqua Valley players are now at Waubonsie.

Joliet Catholic's Jennifer Murphy, younger sister of 2007 Player of the Year Kelly Murphy (Florida), takes over at setter for the Angels this fall. The younger Murphy has committed to the University of Evansville.

By Phil Brozynski

Here are 78 players from "downstate" Illinois (although technically, places like Lanark, Orangeville, Moline and Rockford are more "upstate") who will make somebody's list by the end of the season.

(Apologies for not having heights and weights on all the players listed).

Mackenzie Allen, 6-2, Sr., MH, Normal
Samantha Bedard, 5-7, So., S, Breese Mater Dei
Megan Bergerud, 5-11, Sr., MH, (Ashland) A-C Central
Courtney Blair, 6-1, Jr., MB, Lanark Eastland
Kaley Boeckmann, 5-9, Jr., OH, Breese Mater Dei
Taylor Boyer, Jr., Belleville East
Megan Bunyer, 5-9, Sr., OH, Lanark Eastland
Emily Burger, 5-10, So., S, Bloomington
Kelsey Card, 5-10, Jr., OH, Carlinville
Kayleigh Cox, 6-2, Sr., MH, Freeburg
Morgan Criswell, 6-1, Jr., MB, Decatur LSA
Maddie Crift, 6-0, Jr., MB, Edwardsville
Maddie DePorter, 5-11, Jr., MB, Orion
Chelsea Derry, 5-7, Sr., S, (Sciota) West Prairie
Nicole DeVries, 5-9, Jr., S, Orangeville
Madison Dodd, 5-11, Sr., S/MH, Waterloo
Samantha Espensa, 6-0, So., OH, Edwardsville
Ashley Evans, Sr., Mascoutah
Tori Falter, 6-1, Sr., MH, Chatham Glenwood
Sarah Fetter, 5-9, Sr., S, Moline
Haley Fitzgerald, 5-8, Sr., OH, Decatur St. Teresa
Amy Fulk, 5-11, Sr., MH, St. Elmo
Megan Gendron, 6-0, Sr., S, Rockford Boylan
Jackie Gerig, 5-10, Sr., S, Normal
Emma Goldschmidt, 5-11, Sr., OH, O'Fallon
Dani Gooch, 5-7, Sr., S, Tolono Unity
Marley Hall, 6-1, Sr., MH, Warsaw
Abby Hanger, Sr., S, Belleville West
Cori Harris, 5-9, Sr., OH, Champaign Centennial
Abbie Heise, 6-2, So., S/MB, Jacksonville
Lindsay Herman, 5-9, Sr., OH, Metamora
Shanty Hibbler, Sr., Collinsville
Maddie Hogan, 5-6, Jr., DS, Freeburg
Kelsey Holman, 6-0, Sr., MH, Eureka
Chelsi Hummert, 5-11, Jr., MB, Freeburg
Abby Hunt, 5-10, Sr., MH, Buffalo Tri-City
Reynae Hutchinson, 5-11, Sr., OH, Mattoon
Cassie Ince, 5-3, Sr., L, Kewanee
Felicia Johnson, 5-11, Sr., OH, Fairfield
Jacqui Kane, 5-10, Sr., OH, Princeton
Sam Kassing, 5-9, Sr., OH, Freeburg
Elizabeth Kelly, 6-1 Sr., MH, Carlinville
Hillary Keltner, Jr., Belleville Althoff
Amber Koch., Sr., Highland
Hannah Kvitle, 5-11, Sr., S, Quincy
Brianna Lampe, 5-10, senior, MH, Metamora
Jessie Lantz, 5-8, Sr., OH, Rockford East
Morgan Leach, 5-11, Jr., MB, Champaign Centennial
Emily Less, 5-11, Sr., MH, Decatur St. Teresa
Kate Lindsey, 5-11, Sr., OH, Jacksonville Routt
Hope Linker, 5-8, Jr., S, Lanark Eastland
Shannon McLaughlin, 5-11, Sr., OH, Morton
Megan Moore, 5-11, Sr., MH, Hillsboro
Melanie Moore, 5-8, Sr., S, Champaign Centennial
Alison Mueller, 5-9, Jr, OH, Breese Mater Dei
Maureen Nesbit, Sr., Belleville Althoff
Me'Ashah Nicholson, 6-0, Jr., MB, Belleville Althoff
Claire Peterson, 5-11, Sr., OH, Dunlap
Chelsea Robinson, Sr., East St. Louis
Justine Schepler, 5-4, Sr., L, Sycamore
Brooke Schulte, 5-9, So., OH, Breese Mater Dei
Lauren Seyller, 5-10, Sr., OH, Bloomington
Macy Shupe, 5-8, Sr., OH, Toledo Cumberland
Westin Siemsglusz, Sr., Mascoutah
Heather Smith, 5-8, Sr., S, LaSalle-Peru
Molly Stephens, 5-8, Sr., S, Princeton
Brittany Stribling, 5-6, Jr., S, A-C Central
Nicole Strieker, 5-9, Jr., S, Breese Mater Dei
Carly Thomas, 6-1, Sr., S, Belleville Althoff
Mary Trimpe, 5-9, Sr., OH, Normal
Lauren Weathers, Jr., Collinsville
Kylie Welch, 5-5, Jr., S, Raymond-Lincolnwood
Charliesha Westbrook, Sr., Belleville East
Jessica Whitehead, 6-0, Sr., MH, Murphysboro
Michelle Williams, 5-8, Sr., S, Alwood
Stephanie Williams, 5-10, Sr., OH, Alwood
Laura Witt, 5-10, Sr., S, Freeport
Colleen Yarber, 6-0, Sr., MH, Freeburg

Here are another 58 who might be great

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By Phil Brozynski

Here is the second half of a list of players vying for a place on the Sun-Times' top 50 players in the Chicago area. The final list of 50 players will be published in a few weeks along with the top 10 teams and a profile of one of the area's top players.

Mary Nilles, 6-0, So., RS, Batavia
Caroline Niski, 5-10, Sr., OH, St. Charles East
Meghan Niski, 5-10, So., OH, St. Charles East
Kelsey Nobilio, 5-5, Jr., L, McHenry
Megan Odenthal, 5-10, Sr., S, Geneva
Amanda Orchard, 6-0, So., RS, Lake Zurich
Jill Paluch, 5-5, Sr., S, Nazareth
Michelle Parsinen, 6-2, Sr., MH, Mundelein
Kristen Pederson, 6-1, Jr., MH, Prospect
Kayla Price, 5-8, Jr., S, Fremd
Claire Randich, 6-0, Sr., MH, Joliet Catholic
Brianne Riley, 5-7, Sr., L, Benet
Cassie Rio, 5-9, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Roxanne Rivera, 5-6, Jr., S, Payton
Kelsey Robinson, 6-1, Sr., OH, St. Francis
Caroline Rose, 5-7, So., OH, York
Carly Sahagian, 6-0, Sr., OH, Bartlett
Paulina Sambor, 5-11, Sr., MB, Mother McAuley
Nicole Sarby, 6-0, Sr., MH, Naperville Central
Sidney Sauter, 6-1, Sr., MH, Naperville North
Michelle Schultz, 5-9, So., OH, Chicago Payton
Taylor Scully, 5-10, Sr., OH, Burlington Central
Kaia Schwartz, 6-1, Sr., MH, Naperville North
Jacqui Seidel, 5-11, Sr., S, St. Charles East
Morgan Semmelhack, 5-11, So., MB, York
Breanne Shaw, 5-9, Sr., OH, Joliet
Heidi Sierks, 5-9, So., S, Lake Forest
Natalia Skiba, 5-9, Jr., OH, Hinsdale Central
Sam Skryd, 5-9, Sr., S, Neuqua Valley
Colleen Smith, 5-11, Jr., S/OH, Cary-Grove
Alexa Sommer, 5-9, Sr., OH, Geneva
Katie Sommer, 5-10, Sr., OH, Geneva
Monika Stanciauskas, Wheaton Warrenville South
Taylor Stanfel, 6-1, Sr., MH, Deerfield
Martha Stewart, 5-10, Jr., OH, Waubonsie Valley
Mary Kate Styler, 5-11, Jr., OH, Mother McAuley
Maggie Struss, 5-11, Sr., OH, Stagg
Danielle Susz, 5-11, Jr., MH, Lemont
Courtney Thomas, 5-10, Jr., OH, DeKalb
Jessie Tulacka, 6-0, So., RS, Downers Grove North
Alex Viliunas, 6-1, So., S, Lyons
Meg Vonderhaar, 6-0, Jr., OG, St. Francis
Alyssa Warren, 5-10, Sr., OH, Joliet Catholic
Emily Weber, 6-0, Sr., OH, Rosary
Amelia Wegman, 6-0, So., MH, Rosary
Amy Wehrs, 5-10, Sr., OH, Hampshire
Kara Wehrs, 5-11, Sr., S, Hampshire
Lauren Wicinski, 5-11, Sr., OH, Geneva
Laura Williams, 5-10, So., OH, Lyons
Audrey Wilson, 5-11, Sr., OH, Naperville North
Vickie Wrobel, 5-6, Jr., S, Lemont
Lainey Wyman, 6-2, Jr., MH, Joliet Catholic
Emily Young, 6-0, Jr., OH, Schaumburg
Sierra Young, 5-11, Sr., OH, Benet
Lauren Zerante, 5-11, Sr., OH, York
Lauren Zielinski, 6-4, So., MH, Marist
Jacqui Zintak, 5-4, Jr., S, Evergreen Park
Gabrielle Zito, 6-2, Sr., MB, St. Francis

Next week, we will publish a list of 75 of the top players from downstate Illinois.

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