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Back Row: December 2011 Archives

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You can catch former Hinsdale Central standout and Michigan recruit Ally Davis and her SPVB 18 Elite teammates when the Great Lakes Power League 18's starts January 7-8 at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora.


After weeks of tryouts, practices and roster shuffling, the Great Lakes Power League 18's gets underway next weekend, January 7-8, at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora.

The Power League kicks off a full season of leagues and tournaments that prepare teams to chase JVA, AAU and USAV national titles.

More than 45 clubs are represented by entries in the league, including 1st Alliance, Capital, Celtic Force, Edge, Fusion, Dead Frog, Diamond Elite, Illini Elite, Illinois Heat, Iowa Rockets, IPV, Kaepa Krush, Kane County, Michio Chicago and Milwaukee Sting.

Also, MVA, New WAVE, Northshore Assault, Powerhouse, Rolling Thunder, River City, Sky High, Southshore, Sports Elite, Sports Performance, Team One, Ultimate, Uno, West Allis Lightning, Wisconsin Juniors, Wildcat Juniors and the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy.

The 16's Power League begins January 14-15. Schedules can be found at www.advancedeventsystems.com.

***

The Sports Performance President's Day Challenge for 15-18's club and open divisions is scheduled for February 18-20 at the Great Lakes Center, the Schaumburg Convention Center and the Lake County Expo Center.

The 18 and 17 Open divisions will be played at the Great Lakes Center, the 18 and 17 Club and 15 Open and Club divisions will be played at the Schaumburg Convention Center, and the 16 Open and Club divisions will be played at the Lake County Expo Center.

For more information, email luke@greatlakescenter.com.

***

1st Alliance Volleyball Club out of Western Springs was well-represented on the 30th Champaign News-Gazette All-State First team.

The members of the first team included Katie Gallagher (Iowa State) and Caroline Rose (Western Michigan) of York and Alexis Viliunas (Illinois) of Lyons, all members of the 1st Alliance 18 Silver team that will make its debut at the Great Lakes 18's Power League on January 7.

The second team included Ashley Holder (Marist), whose 1,121 assists last season are second in IHSA history and whose 2,940 career assists are fourth in IHSA history, Sun-Times All-Area selection Katie Urchell (Providence), and Laura Williams (Duke) of Lyons.

Among the 50 players selected special mention were Melissa Deatsch (York), Sophia Dodd (St. Ignatius), Jill Hickey (Joliet Catholic), Melissa Nava (Hinsdale South), Lizzy Scanlon (Mother McAuley), Jessie Tulacka (Downers Grove North) and Nora Young (Benet).

The 100 honorable mention choices included Megan Miller (Lyons), Nora Mitros (Providence), Bridget Powell (Mother McAuley), Caleigh Ryan (Glenbard West) and Mallory Salis (Marist).

Deatsch, Dodd, Ryan and Salis are juniors.

***

Congratulations to Club Fusion, which opened a new three-court facility in Batavia during the summer at the corner of (501 W.) Fabyan Parkway and Route 31. Fusion-South will be among the entrants in the Great Lakes 18's and 16's Power Leagues.

Mike Bui, who also serves as an assistant volleyball coach at St. Charles East, is the program director. For more information, call (815) 923-4466 during business hours.

***

Chicago Sun-Times' 2007 Player of the Year Kelly Murphy, formerly of Joliet Catholic and a senior at the University of Florida, has signed to play professionally for the Guaynabo Mets of the Superior Volleyball League in Puerto Rico. Murphy was named an AVCA Division I First-Team All-America in 2011.

***

Joiet Catholic's Kelly Feigh and Lauren Robertson and Minooka's Stacey Perinar will lead the UNO 18 Elite entry at the Windy City Power League beginning January 7.

The Windy City Power League is played at a number of different locations including Adversity, Energy, Midwest, Palos Courts, Sky High, Sunsetters and Top Flight.

Net Force 17 Competition, which plays out of Waukegan, won the Windy City Power League in 2011.

***

Sun-Times All-Area selection and Marist setter Ashley Holder, who ranks second in IHSA history for single-season assists and fourth for career assists, has committed to the University of Akron for her collegiate career.

"It is a great fit for both of them," Marist coach Natalie Holder said.

Ashley Holder will begin college as a sophomore in Akron's Honors College because of her AP courses and scores at Marist.

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Meghan Haggerty (left) and Jenna Jendryk helped lead Benet to an Illinois Class 4A state championship and a No. 11 national ranking in the final Prepvolleyball.com Century Club list of the country's top 1,480 teams.


Prepvolleyball.com recently released its list of the top 1,480 teams in the country, although the rankings from 101-1,480 are "largely ceremonial, designed to recognize teams for their outstanding seasons rather than meticulously determine their place in the national pecking order," according to Prepvolleyball.com guru John Tawa.

The list is headlined by Lake Travis (Austin, Texas), Prepvolleyball.com's 2011 national champions which finished 50-0 and its first-ever winners from the state of Texas.

Seventeen teams from Illinois cracked the top 200, including Class 4A state titlist Benet, which was ranked No. 41 in the pre-season and finished 11th in the final rankings. Class 4A runner-up Cary-Grove finished 44th.

The rest of the teams from Illinois breaking into the top 200 are: 48. Breese Mater Dei; 50. St. Charles East; 53. Marist; 62. St. Francis; 66. York; 67. Edwardsville; 69. Joliet Catholic; 70. Mother McAuley; 120. Lyons; and 121. Sandburg.

Also, 130. Huntley; 131. Marian Central; 185. Whitney Young; 198. Barrington; and 200. Providence.

***

Naperville North's 6-foot-7 senior outside hitter Spencer Sauter led his club team, Ultimate 18 Gold, to the title of the Palos Points Series last weekend. The tournament ran three weeks and Sauter was named the tournament MVP.

Sauter is being recruited by Harvard, New York University, University of California-San Diego and a few other schools.

The younger brother of former Naperville North standout Sidney Sauter missed a large part of his junior year due to injury. However, the Huskies lost only one match with Sauter in the lineup - the state championship match.

***

A player to watch this spring is Oswego's middle hitter Freddy Miller.

Miller was one of five athletes from Illinois selected to the USA Volleyball Indoor High Performance Boys' Youth A2 roster. The Youth A2 program consists of 31 top athletes born in 1998 or 1999 and selected from any of the 16 USAV Boys' High Performance tryouts held in 2011.

Miller was joined on the squad by Maine South libero Scotty Adamczyk, Edwardsville's opposite Eric Fitterer, and setter Zack Parik and middle blocker Jonathan Tulacka from Downers Grove North.

"Miller rocks the ball and hit .522 against Sports Performance 18 Mizuno a couple weekends ago," said West Aurora coach Tolis Koskinaris.

***

The toughest conference in the state for girls basketball?

How about the Central Suburban South?

Mane South, New Trier, Glenbrook South and Niles West are among the top 20 teams in the Chicago area, and Evanston, with the addition of 6-foot-1 senior Sinclair Cunningham from Whitney Young, is a team with which to contend.

"It's ridiculous," Glenbrook South coach Steve Weissenstein said. "There are so many talented teams. It's fun in the fact that every game is important. You have to come to play. If you don't come to play, you're going to lose because the other team is really good."

Among the top players in the conference are Niles West's Jewel Loyd, a Notre Dame recruit, and Northwestern-bound Maggie Lyon of New Trier.

***

Don't be surprised to see Fremd awaiting the winner of the New Trier sectional at the Stevenson supersectional later this season. Fremd, which starts only one senior, 6-1 wing/post Jessi Wiedemann, is 9-1 after losing at Trinity on Monday.

"I think one thing we're working on is we're defending better than we were earlier in the year," Fremd coach Dave Yates said. "I like that we're balanced. We have a lot of different kids, three kids leading us in scoring, not one kid.

"Our unsung kids are our post kids," he added. "They're not very tall, but they get their hands on a lot of balls and play real good defense. I'm pleased with what I've seen so far.

"We've had some hiccups here and there, but we play a lot of young kids who are just beginning to understand what it takes to succeed at the varsity level."

Fremd is one of the top seeds at the prestigious Dundee-Crown tournament next week. Players to keep an eye on include freshman guard Haley Gorecki and junior sharpshooter Ashley McConnell.

***

Montini junior Malayna Johnson, a 6-foot-4 center, verbally committed to play basketball at Wisconsin earlier this week. Malayna is the younger sister of Connecticut sophomore Michala Johnson.

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Lyons' Alexis Viliunas, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, was recently named the Gatorade Illinois Volleyball Player of the Year.


Lyons' Alexis Viliunas, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year, has been named the 2011-12 Gatorade Illinois Volleyball Player of the Year. Viliunas is the first Gatorade Illinois Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from Lyons.

The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence and high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the court. As the Illinois awardee, Viliunas qualifies as a finalist for the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award announced in December.

The 6-foot-1 senior setter/outside hitter led the Lions (30-9) to the Class 4A supersectional this past season. She recorded 644 assists, 320 kills, 300 digs, 54 service aces and 43 blocks while posting a kill percentage of .499. Viliunas set a school record for career assists with 2,202.

Viliunas has maintained a 4.44 weighted GPA in the classroom. A member of the National Honor Society, she has volunteered locally on behalf of the J. Kyle Braid Leadership Foundation and Project Linus, a non-profit organization that provides blankets for needy children.

"Alexis Viliunas leads not only with her skill but also with her poise and confidence," Lyons coach Joann Pyritz said. "She is knowledgeable about the game and highly skilled, but more importantly she brings out the best in her teammates."

Viliunas has signed a National Letter of Intent to play volleyball on scholarship at the University of Illinois beginning in the fall of 2012.

Viliunas joins recent Gatorade Illinois Volleyball Players of the Year Kelly Lamberti (2010-11) of Cary-Grove, Joliet Catholic's Annemarie Hickey (2009-10) and Chatham Glenwood's Hannah Werth (2008-09).

***

Benet's 6-foot-3 middle hitter Gabby Pethokoukis signed her letter of intent to play at Villanova on December 9, head coach Josh Steinbach announced.

Pethokoukis, from Western Springs, was named one of Prepvolleyball.com's 250 Senior Aces in 2011 and was a member of the Class 4A state championship team in 2011. She put away the state championship point for the Redwings.

Benet was ranked No. 8 in the country by ESPN and No. 12 by Prepvolleyball.com. She played club last season for 1st Alliance 17 Silver and finished 10th in the country at the USA Volleyball Girls Junior High National Championship in 2011.

"Gabby is a physical presence in the gym, and at 6-4 she immediately will be a force at the net." Steinbach said. "She has a great feel for blocking and a developing offensive game that I think will make her a top-notch middle blocker in our league.

"Her determination to improve is already showing as she has made big jumps in skills from year to year in her high school career," he added. "I'm looking forward to her making even bigger leaps after she arrives in the fall."

Gabby is not the only Pethokoukis is the news, however. Little sister Sam, a 6-foot-1 sophomore who played at Fenwick last season, will be playing for the 16 Silver team at 1st Alliance during the club season.

***

Prepvolleyball.com is compiling a list of the top 1,000 high school teams in the country. Here is a list of the top 50 teams in Illinois that Prepvolleyball.com will consider for inclusion. Feel free to discuss:

1. Benet 39-3
2. Cary-Grove 37-5
3. St. Charles East 35-7
4. Marist 34-8
5. Edwardsville
6. York 32-4
7. Breese Mater Dei 39-3
8. St. Francis 35-7
9. Joliet Catholic 32-7
10. Mother McAuley 31-6
11. Lyons 31-9
12. Sandburg 32-7
13. Huntley 32-8
14. (Chicago) Whitney Young 33-5
15. Barrington 28-8
16. Providence 27-9
17. Quincy 36-2
18. Glenbard West 31-6
19. Marian Central 35-7
20. Marian Catholic 24-18
21. Stevenson 30-9
22. Crystal Lake Central 32-7
23. Lake Zurich 26-12
24. Lincoln-Way Central 26-12
25. New Trier 30-8
26. (Chicago) Payton 25-10
27. Lake Forest 32-5
28. Lincoln-Way East 29-8
29. St. Ignatius 25-7
30. Minooka 29-5
31. Hinsdale South 27-10
32. Hersey 31-6
33. Naperville North 29-8
34. Rosary 24-13
35. Hinsdale Central 21-16
36. Libertyville 27-10
37. West Chicago 26-11
38. Downers Grove North 22-15
39. Geneva 20-10
40. (Chicago) DeLaSalle 23-12
41. Quincy Notre Dame 28-9
42. Chicago Christian 23-19
43. Timothy Christian 34-4
44. West Aurora 24-13
45. Naperville Central 21-15
46. Plainfield Central
47. Belleville West
48. Lockport 26-12
49. Immaculate Conception 25-11
50. Dakota 36-1

***

First-round pairings for the Montini Christmas Girls Basketball Tournament have been announced. Play begins at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 27 and concludes at 7:45 p.m. on Friday, December 30.

First-round match-ups on December 27 are: St. Joseph vs. Oak Park, 8:00 a.m.; Bogan vs. Marian Catholic, 9:30 a.m.; Westinghouse vs. Montini, 11:00 a.m.; Guerin (Ind.) vs. Hinsdale South, 12:30 p.m.; Oak Park vs. Marian Catholic, 3:30 p.m.; Bogan vs. St. Joseph, 5:00 p.m., Montini vs. Hinsdale South, 6:30 p.m.; and Westinghouse vs. Guerin, 8:00 p.m.

***

First-round pairings for the Hillcrest Holiday Classic Girls Basketball Tournament have been announced. Play begins at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, December 27 and concludes at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 29.

First-round match-ups on December 27 are: Tinley Park vs. Rich Central, 9:00 a.m.; Lockport vs. T.F. North, 9:00 a.m.; St. Ignatius vs. Stagg, 10:30 a.m.; Hillcrest vs. Simeon, 10:30 a.m.; Homewood-Flossmoor vs. Thornton, 12:00 p.m.; Rich South vs. Harlan, 12:00 p.m.; Sandburg vs. Oak Forest, 1:30 p.m.; and Marist vs. Thornwood, 1:30 p.m.

First-round winners and losers play again on December 27 at 3:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

***

First-round pairings for the Wheaton North Girls Christmas Basketball Tournament have been announced. Play begins at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 26 and concludes at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 29.

First-round match-ups on December 26 are: Hersey vs. Willowbrook, 9:00 a.m.; Glenbard South vs. West Aurora, 10:30 a.m.; Glenbard North vs. Jacobs, 12:00 p.m.; Glenbrook South vs. Downers Grove North, 1:30 p.m.; Lyons vs. Elgin, 3:00 p.m.; Elk Grove vs. Hinsdale Central, 4:30 p.m.; St. Charles East vs. Wheaton North, 6:00 p.m.; and Waubonsie Valley vs. Schaumburg, 7:30 p.m.

***

First-round pairings for the 29th Annual Dundee-Crown Charger Classic Girls Basketball Tournament have been announced. Play begins at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 26 and concludes at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 29.

First-round match-ups on December 26 are: Fremd vs. Johnsburg, 10:00 a.m.; Resurrection vs. Rockton Hononegah, 11:30 a.m.; Regina vs. New Trier, 1:00 p.m.; Buffalo Grove vs. Naperville Central, 2:30 p.m.; Prospect vs. Maine West, 4:00 p.m.; St. Charles North vs. Fenwick, 5:30 p.m.; Mother McAuley vs. Evanston, 7:00 p.m.; and Bartlett vs. Dundee-Crown, 8:30 p.m.

Morgan Park coach Thomas "TJ" Johnson is still awaiting word on the results of an MRI on the knee of 6-foot-1 senior Gabrielle Richmond, who was initially hurt November 25 against Geneva and reinjured the knee on November 29 at Trinity.

Meanwhile, Morgan Park rolled past Simeon and Harlan last week with Johnson going back to the formula that carried Morgan Park to the sectional championship game last season before it lost to Hillcrest.

"We're actually played very well last week," Johnson said. "We changed our lineup. We're playing four guards and a post like we did last year. If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Toledo recruit Kendyl Nunn is joined out front by veteran point guard Debra Jenkins and 5-7 junior Kierra Graves. Two freshmen - 5-9 Tammy Russell and 6-0 Marsha Howard - are sharing the post.

***

Who you going to stop?

Hillcrest is 6-0 with good reason - talent, quickness, depth and balance.

Shannise Heady leads Hillcrest with 15.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game; Dana Gettis is averaging 13.7 points per game and is 6-of-12 from downtown; Jahmia Phillips is averaging 10 points and 6.7 rebounds per game; and Samirah Ali is averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 assists.

***

St. Joseph is 6-1 and 1-0 in the East Suburban Catholic thanks to Briya Wilborn's three-pointer at the buzzer that beat Joliet Catholic last week. But don't go to sleep on 5-11 senior forward Donna Koerber, who chipped in 19 points and seven rebounds in the win.

***

Six-foot-1 senior Marissa Pezzopane of Addison Trail missed the entire volleyball season after breaking the big bone in her foot last June, but it has healed enough for her to become a factor in the Blazers' basketball season. She averaged 12.5 points and 7 rebounds a year ago.

***

You may know her as a pivotal member of Chicago Christian's Class 2A state runner-up volleyball team, but 6-foot senior forward Becky DeRuiter plays a pretty mean game of basketball, too.

***

Curie is perennial powerhouse in boys basketball. Ricky Robinson is trying to do the same with the girls program. He hopes 6-3 junior center Caelyn Allen-Manning and 5-7 senior guard Christina Griffin can get Curie to the upper echelon in the city.

***

In case you missed it late Saturday, Plainfield East defeated Oswego 46-42 behind 13 points from Dominique Hartsfield and 11 from Chantise Adams. Deni Owikoti added 10 rebounds and three blocks for the winners.

"This was a fast-paced, intense game with a lot of fouls which hurt us in the first half," Plainfield east coach Melissa Mitidiero said. "We managed to keep our composure in the second half. With solid defense in the fourth quarter, we were able to pull out the win."

***

Here are some players to watch this season: Conant's Natalie Kutramanes, DuSable's Dianne Sales; Highland Park's Ariel Swartz; Downers Grove North's Mary Echemann; Harper's LaQuesha Carter; and Joliet Catholic's Megan Williams.

Also, Luther East's Kathy Gentry; Marengo's Jessica Villie; Somonauk's Lauren Brummel; Chicago Talent's Julie Burgess; T.F. South's Dominique Brooks; West Chicago's Claire Monroe; Wheaton Warrenville South's Kasey Gassensmith; and Woodlawn's Alexa Capps.

***

'Tis the season for holiday tournaments and shootouts, and it all gets underway Friday and Saturday at the 2011 Chitown Showdown hosted by Whitney Young.

Three games are on tap Friday, starting with Champaign Central vs. Proviso West at 5:00 p.m.; St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.) vs. Trinity at 6:30 p.m.; and Proviso East vs. Whitney Young at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, Champaign Central faces Bogan at 11:30 a.m.; Penn meets Marian Catholic at 1:00 p.m.; Clyde Miller (St. Louis, Mo.) plays Morgan Park at 2:30 p.m.; St. John the Baptist plays Young at 4:00 p.m. and Milwaukee Riverside faces Montini at 5:30 p.m.

***

The annual Benet/Naperville North Holiday Tournament gets underway December 15-17 with pool play and continues December 22-23 with the championship brackets.

The Benet pool features Benet, Wheaton Warrenville South, York and Geneva. The Naperville North pool features Naperville North, DeKalb, Glenbard West and Providence. The tournament features three levels - freshman, junior varsity and varsity.

The championship bracket will be played at Benet. The winner of the Naperville North pool will face the Benet runner-up at 6:00 p.m. on December 22, and the winner of the Benet pool will face the second-place team from Naperville North at 7:30 p.m. on December 22.

The championship will be played on December 23 at 7:30 p.m.

***

Bolingbrook and Niles West will meet at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 16 in the headline game of the 22nd Annual McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School.

Games on Friday, January 14 feature St. Ignatius vs. Willowbrook at 6:00 p.m. and Andrew vs. Warren at 7:30 p.m.

Games on Saturday, January 15 feature Bogan and Maine West at 10:00 a.m.; Wheaton North and Morgan Park at 11:30 a.m.; New Trier and Wheaton Warrenville South at 1:00 p.m. and Oregon Davis (Ind.) and Prospect at 2:30 p.m.

Other games Saturday feature Proviso East vs. Hillcrest at 4:00 p.m.; Lincoln-Way East vs. Geneva at 5:30 p.m.; and Neuqua Valley and Fenwick at 7:00 p.m.

On Monday, January 16, Streamwood plays Marian Catholic at 10:00 a.m.; Fenwick plays St. Joseph (Mo.) at 11:30 a.m.; Providence plays Plainfield North at 1:00 p.m.; Trinity meets Marist at 2:30 p.m.; and Montini plays Young at 4:00 p.m.

Monday's games wrap up with Waubonsie Valley and Benet at 5:30 p.m. followed by Niles West and Bolingbrook.

***

Oswego has changed its tournament schedule....again. According to one source, the latest schedule is the "third or fourth" version.

Once-beaten Neuqua Valley (6-1) heads up the Blue Division with Minooka and Batavia while Rosary and Oswego are the best of the Orange Division.

Play begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, December 10 and first-round games feature Neuqua vs. Batavia at 4:30 p.m. Play continues Monday, December 12 through Thursday, December 15 with the championship match scheduled at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 17.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Back Row in December 2011.

Back Row: November 2011 is the previous archive.

Back Row: January 2012 is the next archive.

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