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Girls Volleyball: November 2009 Archives

Post-season honors come rolling in

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Burlington Central outside hitter Stephanie Holthus, who is headed to Northwestern next fall, was one of 24 high school players nationwide named to the Under Armour Girls High School All-America Team.

All-Americans must be seniors in high school, they must be nominated by their high school coach, their coach must be a member of AVCA and the player's season statistics must be entered into MaxPreps.

Each of the 24 players on the first team will be invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition held December 20 in Tampa, Fla. in conjunction with the 2009 AVCA Annual Convention.

Three other players were honored by AVCA. Geneva's Lauren Wicinski was a member of the second team, and O'Fallon's Emma Goldschmidt and Cary-Grove's Abbey Heredia were named honorable mention.


Former Benet star and current West Point cadet Ariana Mankus, the leading attacker on the team that finished second in the Illinois High School Association Class 4A tournament in 2008, was named Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year by the Patriot League.

Mankus led the Patriot League averaging 3.84 kills per set and registered eight double-doubles (kills, digs) in conference play. She had a season-high 20 kills versus Lehigh on October 2.

Mankus had 415 kills for Army, which was 26-5 during the regular season including 12-2 in conference and 16-1 at home.


The Chicago area dominated the annual Champaign News-Gazette all-state volleyball team, occupying 14 of the 18 spots on the first team.

First-team selections included Lyons' Jocelyn Birks, St. Ignatius' Grace Bonoma, Glenbrook South's Ellen Chapman, Oak Forest's Natalie Fiore, Evanston's Ali Gossen, Joliet Catholic's Annemarie Hickey and Stephanie Holthus of Burlington Central.

Also, Mary Kate Imrie of Sandburg, Kristen Kelsay of St. Francis, Kelly Lamberti of Cary-Grove, Kelsey Robinson of St. Francis, Carly Sahagian of Bartlett, Maggie Struss of Stagg and Lauren Wicinski of Geneva.

Birks, Chapman and Lamberti were the only juniors on the first team.

Three out of four ain't bad.

As predicted here and elsewhere late last summer, Lanark Eastland (1A), Freeburg (2A) and Joliet Catholic (3A) won state titles last weekend at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena. For all three teams, it was their second consecutive state title.

The only "surprise" was Cary-Grove, which rolled through favored Lyons in the Class 4A final.

Now it's time to peer in the crystal ball and look ahead to the 2010 season. Here's a look at some of the teams that should be among the best Chicagoland has to offer:

Lyons - Likely to be ranked No. 1 in Chicago and the state next year, the Lions bring back 6-0 sophomore Alexis Viliunas, 6-2 junior Jocelyn Birks,.sophomore defensive whiz Megan Miller and 5-10 sophomore Laura Williams. However, the Lions will need help in the middle.

York - Lauren Zerante will be missed, but junior setter Emily Iverson and sophomores Katie Gallagher, Caroline Rose and Morgan Semmelhack should ease the sting a little.

Marist - One day, Marist will beat Mother McAuley in the sectional. Perhaps next year? The Redhawks welcome back 5-10 junior Courtney Collins, libero Caroline Niedospial, 6-1 junior Katie Krasowski, setter Ashley Holder, 6-4 sophomore Lauren Zielinski and defensive specialist Molly Murphy.

Lemont - The Indians will probably find themselves in the same sectional with St. Francis and Joliet Catholic next year, but don't be surprised in they get past their private rivals behind 5-10 junior Courtney Keefe, 6-0 junior Danielle Susz, setter Vicki Wrobel and 5-6 sophomore Emily Brown.

Chicago Christian - Junior Madison Kamp boldly predicted a state title after Friday's quarterfinals. The Knights fell short, but with four Kamps - Madison, 5-11 sophomore Maggie, 5-11 junior Stacey and 5-10 junior Emily - in camp next year, they should contend again. Also back will be libero Celaine Haan and 6-foot middle Becky DeRuiter.

Sandburg - Jenny Buczek and Amanda Kijewski will give Sandburg an opportunity to win a lot of matches next year.

St. Francis - How do you replace Kelsey Robinson and Kristen Kelsay?

Joliet Catholic - How do you replace Annemarie Hickey, Alyssa Warren and Jen Murphy?

Benet - Juniors Lara Ontko, Ashley Veselik, Alyson Farm and Kaitlyn King and sophomores Meghan Haggerty and Jenna Jendryk should help Benet contend for a state title.

Hinsdale Central - Juniors Natalie Skiba and Jamie Netisingha, sophomore Ally Davis and some really tall JV kids could have the Red Devils back in the top 10 in 2010.

Cary-Grove - Can Colleen Smith make everyone forget Abbey Heredia? Can Kelly Lamberti be any better than she was against Lyons? Can Ashley Rosch keep blocking and can the Trojans keep rocking?

Providence - Six-foot-1 sophomore Nora Mitros can be a superstar, but without help from Elle Burchett, Katie McDonald, Katie Urchell and Alyssa Podwell, will the Celtics go very far?

Naperville Central - Just because.

St. Charles East - The talent will still be there in 2010. But can the Saints find their mojo?

West Chicago - 6-2 junior Emily Paschke and 5-9 sophomore Julia Conard are a good place to start for a team that came oh-so-close to a share of the DuPage Valley Conference title..

And finally, if we learned anything last weekend, nobody will beat Breese Mater Dei next year.

Lyons. Joliet Catholic. Freeburg. Lanark Eastland.

That's the way it should break down this weekend in Normal. Of course, that doesn't mean it will.

Lyons coach Joann Pyritz said Class 4A is too close to call.

"It will be very close," said Pyritz, who has taken four boys team to the state tournament (although the atmosphere at Hoffman Estates High School can hardly be compared to Redbird Arena) since last leading a girls team to state 20 years ago.

"It's obviously going to be a pressure-packed situation," she said. "We just want to make sure the team stays composed."

Lyons certainly has the talent to win the title, starting with 6-foot-2 junior Jocelyn Birks (340 kills), 6-0 sophomore setter Alexis Viliunas and 5-9 senior Maureen Stroka. But the rest of the field is equally gifted.

Quincy defeated very good Moline, Normal and Benet teams to earn its first state berth since 1999, and setter Hannah Kvitle and junior outside Brittany Houghton drew praise from Benet coach Brad Baker after the Blue Devils dispatched the Redwings in the supersectional.

Cary-Grove and Glenbrook South are no slouches, either. Cary-Grove defeated defending Class 4A champion St. Charles East not once but twice, and took down Mother McAuley at the Asics Challenge. Glenbrook South has 6-4 Ellen Chapman and Columbia-bound setter Colleen Brennan.

In the other classes, Joliet Catholic, Freeburg and Lanark Eastland have two big advantages over their rivals - talent and experience. All three are seeking their second consecutive state title.

Only time will tell whether Joliet Catholic won the state title last week in Wheaton or if there is a suitable challenger among Breese Mater Dei, Sycamore and Crystal Lake Central. A lot has been made of Mater Dei, but it lost twice to the same Althoff team Joliet Catholic embarrassed at the Mizuno Cup.

Crystal Lake Central has a budding superstar in 6-1 sophomore Amelia Anderson, but the Tigers also needed three sets to defeat the same Nazareth team that lost to Joliet Catholic 25-20, 25-7 in East Suburban Catholic Conference play.

Chicago Christian coach James Garcia would like spoil the Freeburg celebration plan. The field may be tempted to overlook the Knights because of their 27-10 record, but playing St. Francis, Marist and Lockport should better prepare Chicago Christian than the last time it was in Normal.

"We need to focus on our game plan," Garcia said. "Sometimes the outside pressures and expectations get to some of the girls. It's our job as coaches to remind them to keep doing what they've done all season."

And the season is getting shorter every minute.

The two best Class 3A teams in southern Illinois met last weekend in the regional final at Centralia when Breese Mater Dei avenged two earlier losses to Belleville Althoff with a 26-24, 25-22 victory.

The two best Class 3A teams - and likely the two best teams regardless of class - in the state meet Thursday night in Wheaton when No. 1-ranked Joliet Catholic (37-1) squares off against No. 2 St. Francis (35-2).

Two years ago, the teams met in a supersectional at St. Francis. That year, the Spartans took advantage of a hobbled Kelly Murphy to advance to the state tournament where they eventually lost to Crystal Lake Central in the finals.

Last year, Joliet Catholic outlasted St. Francis in the Oswego supersectional, overcoming 20 kills by Kelsey Robinson to win 25-23, 25-27, 25-21. The Angels dominated the field in Bloomington, whipping Burlington Central 25-19, 25-14 in the finals.

This year, Joliet Catholic has not lost to an Illinois team, suffering its only loss to Assumption (Ky.) in the finals of the Asics Challenge at Mother McAuley. St. Francis has not lost since losing to Sandburg in the same tournament.

However, none of that will matter Thursday night.

What will it take for St. Francis to stop Joliet Catholic?

"We have to minimize our errors and not get rattled," St. Francis coach Peg Kopec said. "Everybody is going to get their kills. (Joliet Catholic's Annemarie) Hickey is going to get her kills. Kelsey (St. Francis' Robinson) is going to get her kills.

"Then what are you going to do?"

Well, the winner will keep playing. Probably until 8:00 p.m. next Saturday night when it hoists the Class 3A state championship trophy.


Other sectional championship matches of note feature defending Class 4A champion St. Charles East and York at Geneva; Evanston and Glenbrook South at Stevenson; and Mother McAuley and Sandburg at Eisenhower.

York started the season 1-4, but has won 23 of its last 27 including Tuesday's win over ninth-ranked Geneva. Mother McAuley was barely over .500 midway through the season, but has since won 16 of its last 17.

In Class 3A, St. Viator and 2007 state champion Crystal Lake Central collide at Vernon Hills while 2008 semifinalist Payton tries to keep its Bloomington dreams alive when it faces Nazareth in LaGrange Park.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Girls Volleyball category from November 2009.

Girls Volleyball: October 2009 is the previous archive.

Girls Volleyball: December 2009 is the next archive.

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