What lies ahead in 2018?
Can Marist hold off perennial nemesis Mother McAuley despite losing most of the mainstays who led the RedHawks to the 2017 state title?
Can Class 3A champion Belleville Althoff weather the loss of 6-foot-1 setter extraordinaire Louis Comerford?
Can Crystal Lake Central get back to the dance despite the loss of the Kelly twins, or will Huntley or Prairie Ridge supplant the Tigers as the far northwest suburbs’ top team?
A lot can happen between now and August, but here is a look at some of the teams poised to make noise next fall (in no particular order):
1. Marist (41-1) – Gone is outside hitter Savannah Thompson. Gone is setter Molly Murrihy. Gone are libero Grace Green, outside hitter Maggie Meyer and middle hitter Katie Hogan. But one East Suburban Catholic Conference coach said the girls on the Marist bench could have been ranked as high as No. 5 in the state. Back will be 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter Camryn Hannah, who is also being recruited as a setter. Also back are 5-10 junior middle hitter Abby Callahan, 5-11 junior rightside Katie Dolan and 6-1 junior middle Mattie McCabe. Throw in some talented underclassmen, and coach Jordan Vidovic & Co. could be eyeing a return to the medal podium next fall.
2. Mother McAuley (35-5) – How do you replace Charley Niego? You don’t. But McAuley always seems to find a way to replace with stars with players you haven’t heard of or who would have been stars on any other team. Among those who should emerge from underneath Niego’s long shadow are 5-10 sophomore rightside Amia Owolabi and 5-9 sophomore outside Alena Pedroza. Toss in 5-11 junior setter Nancy Kane and 5-8 sophomore libero Grace Niego and you have the makings of another powerhouse on 99th and Pulaski. McAuley was the only team to beat eventual state champion Marist this season. Can the Mighty Macs work their magic again in 2018? Can 6-2 Burke Niego and 6-0 freshman Ella O’Neill prosper in the middle?
3. Benet (32-7) – There were times this season when coach Brad Baker had two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior on the floor at the same time. Nevertheless, Benet reached the finals of every tournament in which it participated, losing to Minooka at the Scholastic Cup and the sectional finals and Marist at Autumnfest. Senior Claire Byrne and 6-2 outside Lilly Johnson are gone, but back are 5-11 junior setter Ally Van Eekeren, 5-11 freshman outside Rachel Muisenga, 5-4 sophomore libero Hattie Monson, 5-9 freshman outside hitter Kyla Kenney, 5-11 sophomore middle Sophie Gregus, 5-9 junior middle Anna Paoni, 5-10 junior outside Caitlin McKee and junior defensive specialist Caroline Gard. A big middle would help.
4. Sterling (35-3) – Why are they talking about a Class 3A state championship in 2018 at Sterling? For starters, there are the Borum girls – 6-1 freshman Brooklyn Borum (286 kills, 35 blocks, 173 digs and 23 aces), 5-11 freshman Breelyn Borum (147 kills, 552 assists) and 6-foot junior setter/outside hitter Josilyn Borum (268 kills, 329 assists). Then there is 5-5 freshman libero Alexis Rodriguez (547 digs, 58 aces), who teamed with Brooklyn Borum to help lead Sports Performance 14 Elite to a national championship in the 14 Open division of the AAU Junior National Championships in Orlando, Fla., last summer. The Golden Warriors reached the sectional finals before losing to Limestone. Two more steps in 2018 aren’t out of reach.
5. Plainfield Central (22-12) – Plainfield Central was knocked out in the regional semifinals by Neuqua Valley 25-17, 25-27, 29-27, but you have to like the Wildcats’ chances in 2018, especially since 6-4 outside hitter Taylor Landfair was just a sophomore in 2017 and she will be surrounded by a bevy of teammates who also return. Landfair will get help from 5-8 junior libero Katie Shook, 5-9 junior setter Grace Brock and 5-9 junior setter Regan Trueblood. “We were young this year,” said coach Erik Vogt. “I think it's critically important to have good senior leadership. When the match is on the line, those kids that are seniors have seen it before.” The Wildcats will have that senior leadership in 2018.
6. Quincy Notre Dame (33-9) – The Lady Raiders were the only team to defy Illprepvb.com’s crystal ball, falling in three sets to Auburn recruit Micah Allison and St. Thomas More in the Class 2A championship game. The Raiders should not be affected by the success factor next year, giving them another opportunity at the state championship. Back for QND in 2018 will be 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Sydney Hummert (377 kills in 2017), 5-10 junior middle Monica Brown, 5-3 sophomore setter Maddie Peters, 5-4 junior setter Lauren Roberts, 5-10 junior outside Erin Carey and 5-8 sophomore outside hitter Taylor Keck.
7. Windsor-Stewardson-Strasburg (34-7) – Payson Seymour stymied the Comets’ state record-breaking Megan Schlechte, whose 29 kills in the semifinals eclipsed the mark set by Mother McAuley’s Katie Schumacher, in the Class 1A state championship match. But then again, the Lady Indians were able to slow down just about everybody they played this season. Schlechte will be back in 2018, however, as will 5-10 junior rightside Calla Roney, 5-6 junior setter Mackenzi Tabbert and 5-11 sophomore middle Mackinzee Reynolds, making the Comets the small school team to beat in 2018.
8. Newark (34-5) – Madi Malone amassed 448 kills and 57 aces heading into the state semifinals and exited the tournament with 20 more kills and 3 more aces to her incredible season. The 5-11 freshman, who plays for 1st Alliance, will only get better, quicker and stronger. She will also have several of her teammates returning in 2018 including 6-foot sophomore middle blocker Mattie Chapman, 5-4 junior setter Olivia Nelson, 5-8 junior outside hitter Evelyn Martin and 6-foot junior middle blocker Alyssa Gittins. The Lady Norsemen figure to get back to Normal next fall.
9. Belleville Althoff (41-1) – The Crusaders won’t be bad in 2018, but can they be as good as they were in 2017? Six-foot-1 setter extraordinaire Louis Comerford graduates, as does 5-10 rightside Addie Burris, leaving two pretty big holes for coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich to fill. Althoff does return 6-1 sophomore middle Karinna Gall (308 kills in 2017), 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Katie Wemhoener (222 kills) and 5-9 sophomore outside hitter Grace Strieker, but the Crusaders will need a lot of help from players like 5-11 sophomore Nicole Hampton and 5-9 sophomore Mary Wessel.
10. St. Francis (25-13) – The Spartans lose libero Maddie Shulski and setter/middle hitter Madison Wilkens from the team that lost in three sets to Downers Grove North in the sectional semifinals, but coach Lisa Ston welcomes back a ton including 6-foot junior Ashley Zulauf (230 kills), 6-1 sophomore Anna Calcagno (196 kills), 5-5 defensive specialist Maria Russo, 5-9 junior outside Skylar Lukowych (126 kills), 5-8 junior outside Katelyn Hanrahan (128 kills), 5-10 junior outside hitter Samantha Ward (113 kills) and 5-7 junior setter AnnaBelle Tomei (358 assists). Are the Spartans headed back to 3A?
11. IC Catholic Prep (13-19) – What’s there to like about the Knights in 2018? Plenty. For one thing, IC loses only two of its top nine players. Among the players expected back for coach Nancy D’Amore are 5-9 junior outside hitter Maya Stovall, 6-3 freshman middle hitter Kaya Hood, 5-11 junior outside hitter Nailah Landon, sophomore libero Bella Leslie and 5-8 freshman setter Sophie Hurt. Furthermore, despite reaching the sectional finals (losing to Latin 25-23, 10-25, 25-23) in 2017, the Knights will get to spend another season in Class 2A. Latin will still be an obstacle somewhere down the road, but the Knights will be older and stronger.
12. Joliet Catholic (28-8) – The Angels saw more of Waubonsie Valley than they wanted to in 2017, losing to the Warriors in the quarterfinals of Autumnfest then falling to Waubonsie in the regional final two weeks later, 25-21, 23-25, 26-24. Replacing 5-9 senior setter Sarah Nahas will be coach Chris Scheibe’s biggest challenge, although Nahas’ heir will be surrounded by a group of more than capable attackers in 5-8 junior Emily Holbrook (261 kills, 146 digs), 6-1 freshman Emily Wilson (228 kills, 38 blocks), 6-2 sophomore Bella Ray (139 kills, 85 blocks) and 5-8 junior Sophie Krzysciak (126 kills, 115 digs).
13. Huntley (25-7) – The Red Raiders, billed by Benet coach Brad Baker as “one of the best passing teams” he had seen all year, lose only 5-11 senior Aleah Amelio from the team that was upset by St. Charles East 25-18, 25-20 in the sectional semifinals. Expected to return for coach Karen Naymola from a team that swept eventual third-place finisher Crystal Lake Central during the Fox Valley Conference campaign are 5-7 sophomore setter Taylor Jakubowski, 5-11 junior Julia Johnson, 5-11 freshman Emma Konie, 6-0 junior Marissa Deem, 6-0 junior middle hitter Loren Alberts and 5-5 junior defensive whiz Sarah Zayas.
14. Lemont (24-13) – Two of the brightest young stars on the Illinois high school volleyball scene toiled for the Indians this fall – 5-10 sophomore setter Amy Schwem and 6-0 freshman rightside hitter Amanda Rice. Schwem had 16 assists and a kill in Lemont’s 25-16, 25-20 season-ending loss to Marist in the regional final. Five-foot-7 senior Beth Cannon and 6-2 senior Courtney McAuliffe will be huge losses, but Lemont and Schwem have other options to go to in 2018 including Rice and 5-9 sophomore outside hitter Ella Pelen, who had 6 kills in a regional semifinal win over Bradley Bourbonnais. Lemont may still be a year away, but it will be fun watching Schwem and Rice mature.
15. Eureka (30-8) – The Hornets, who won the Class 2A title in 2016, lost to eventual state runner-up Quincy Notre Dame 23-25, 25-20, 25-16 in the supersectional and could be the Raiders’ biggest obstacle to a return to Normal in 2018. Eureka loses 5-7 senior setter Maddie McCunn (562 assists) but not much else. Back will be 6-0 junior middle Haley Flowers (372 kills), 5-7 junior outside hitter Courtney Heffren (230 kills) and 5-11 junior outside hitter Lauren Ausmus (120 kills). Junior Amy Pineda (281 assist) will have to take on a bigger role running the offense, and 5-7 sophomore Joan Zimmerman and 5-7 junior Drew Rokey will have to step up as attackers.
Other teams to keep an eye on: Cary-Grove, Downers Grove North, Glenbard South, Glenbard West, Hartsburg-Emden, Latin, Marian Catholic, Mt. Zion, Naperville North, New Trier, Pleasant Plains, Prairie Ridge, St. Charles North, Sandburg, York.
Congratulations to our Team, Coach and Player of the Year!!
2017 Coach of the Year: Jordan Vidovic, Marist
2017 Player of the Year: Alli Papesh, Minooka
2017 Team of the Year: Marist Redhawks
First Team ALL STATE
Grace Cleveland, 6-3, Sr., MB, Normal Community
Charley Niego, 6-0, Sr., OH, Mother McAuley
Alli Papesh, 6-1, Sr., OH, Minooka
Rachel Pranger, 5-11, Sr., OH, Edwardsville
Temitayo Thomas-Ailara, 6-1, Jr., OH, Marian Catholic
Savannah Thompson, 5-10, Sr., OH, Marist
Congratulations to all the players that made the 2017 Illprepvb.com All-State Teams!
Monday: Special Mention
Tuesday: Honorable Mention
Wednesday: 4th Team
Thursday: 3rd Team
Friday: 2nd Team
Saturday: 1st Team
Sunday: Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and Team of the Year
Louise Comerford, 5-11, Sr., S, Belleville Althoff
Clare Delaplane, 6-1, Sr., OH, Downers Grove North
Mikaila Dowd, 6-1, Sr., OH, Metea Valley
Molly Murrihy, 6-0, Sr., S, Marist
Rocky Perinar, 6-0, Sr., OH, Minooka
Brittany Robinson, 6-2, Sr., OH, Limestone
Taylor Baranski, 5-7, Sr., L, Minooka
Lilly Johnson, 6-2, Sr., OH, Benet
Nancy Kane, 5-11, Jr., S, Mother McAuley
Megan Kelly, 6-0, Sr., S. Crystal Lake Central
Taylor Landfair, 6-4, So., OH, Plainfield Central
Katie Lanz, 6-0, Jr., S/OPP, St. Charles North
Mica Allison, 6-0, Sr., S, St. Thomas More
Kaylee Hanger, 5-9, Sr., OH, Belleville West
Catherine Hickey, 5-11, Sr., OH, St. Viator
Maggie Meyer, 5-10, Sr., OH, Marist
Kyra Slavik, 5-10, Sr., S, St. Charles East
Elise Smith, 5-9, Sr., OH, O’Fallon
Honorable Mention (18)
Maggie Bair, 6-3, Jr., MB, Glenbard South; McKenna Barnhardt, 5-11, Sr., OH, Normal Community; Emmy Barnhorst, 6-2, Sr., OH, Wheaton North; Holly Bonde, 6-2, Sr., OPP, Minooka; Grace Green, 5-8, Sr., L, Marist; Anna Hayes, 5-11, Jr., OH, Hartsburg-Emden, Sarah Kushner, 5-10, Jr., OH, Naperville North; Hannah Lesniak, 6-1, Sr., OH, Lincoln-Way East; Sarah Nahas, 5-9, Sr., RS/S, Joliet Catholic; Jayden Otto, 5-11, Jr., S, Prairie Ridge; Megan Schlechte, 5-11, Jr., OH, Stewardson-Strasburg; Sarah Shank, 5-10, Sr., OH, Naperville Central; Erica Staunton, 6-0, Jr., OH, Sandburg; Hannah Thompson, 5-8, Sr., OH, Pekin; Ally Van Eekeren, 5-11, Jr., S. Benet; Melissa Walden, 5-10, So., S, Waubonsie Valley; Brittany Welch, 5-9, Sr., OH, Resurrection; Madison Wilkens, 5-11, Sr., S, St. Francis.
Special Mention (25)
Kaite Asche, 5-9, Fr., OH, Durand; Jill Bennett, 5-10, Sr., OPP, St. Ignatius; Amanda Cassidy, 5-7, Sr., OH, Harvest Christian; Ani Clark, 6-2, Jr., MH, Wheaton North; Abby Frohning, 5-8, Sr., OH, Newton; Jenna Garrett, 5-9, Sr., S, Batavia; Haley Holz, 6-2, Jr., OH, Palatine; Sydney Hummert, 5-9, So., OH, Quincy Notre Dame; Brylee Kelly, 6-2, Sr., OH, Peotone: Emily Kelly, 5-11, Sr., OH, Crystal Lake Central; Sarah Konovodoff, 5-4, So., L, Rosary; Katie Jablonski, 5-10, Jr., OH, Kaneland; Sarah Kiwan, 6-0, Sr., OH, Shepard; JoDee Kovanda, 6-0, Sr., S/OPP, Lockport; Lauren LaBeck, 5-11, Sr., S, Grayslake Central; Molly Lambillotte, 5-10, Sr., OH, Geneva; Michelle Lee, 5-7, Sr., L, Waubonsie Valley; Madi Malone, 5-9, Fr., OH, Newark; Hattie Monson, 5-4, So., L, Benet; Kati Kaburov, 6-0, So., OH, Hersey; Amber Olson, 6-0, Sr., S, Cary-Grove; Jess Rizzo, 5-11, Sr., OH, Fremd; Josie Stanford, 6-1, Sr., MB, Payson Seymour; Morgan Sterrett, 6-0, Sr., OH, Schaumburg; Alex Vanwestrienen, 5-9, Jr., L, Naperville Central.
Marist guts out win over Minooka in 4A; Belleville Althoff, St. Thomas More, Payson Seymour also win
Savannah Thompson never had a doubt.
“Honestly, in the back of our heads there was no doubt,” said Marist’s 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter. “We had no doubt. The whole time I knew the other 17 girls, we wanted it just as bad and it feels freaking great to do right now, right here with these girls.”
Thompson had 14 kills and 13 digs, Molly Murrihy added 32 assists and Maggie Meyer had 9 kills as Marist (41-1) defeated Minooka with a gutty 22-25, 25-22, 25-15 victory in the IHSA Class 4A state championship game Saturday at ISU’s Redbird Arena.
Marist coach Jordan Vidovic said it was sheer toughness that carried the RedHawks against the potent Minooka lineup and to the school’s first girls volleyball state title.
“Sheer toughness,” he said. “Sheer grit, sheer toughness, all mental. That’s all we talked about. They’re (Minooka) a tough team. They have some firepower across the board. They have a huge block and play great defense. You’ve got to grind it out.
“The end the second game says it all about our team, it says it all about our seniors, it says it all about our season,” Vidovic said. “We just found a way. We were ready. Our seniors – Molly, Maggie, Grace (Green) and Savannah -- they carried us all the way through.”
After Minooka (39-3) ended Game 1 on a kill by Alli Papesh, the Indians used a 5-1 to wipe out a 20-17 deficit in the second set and take a 22-21 lead. But kills by Meyer, Thompson and a pair of Minooka errors forced a third game.
“My teammates put me in great position to play that way,” Thompson said. “I wouldn't be the player that I am without these girls around me. I owe it all to them.”
Minooka took an 8-4 lead in the third set, but Marist used runs of 5-0 and 12-3 to force the Indians to burn two timeouts. The run swelled to 18-5, and Murrihy’s dump at match point send the RedHawks scrambling into a scrum at midcourt.
“It was a little reminiscent of the first time we played them,” Vidovic said. “We just had to stick with it. Even when things weren’t going well, we just said, ‘Stay the course and keep doing what you're doing.’ The girls earned this. They deserve to be here right now.”
Six-foot-1 sophomore rightside Camryn Hannah added 6 kills and Green had 13 digs for Marist.
Six-foot senior outside hitter Rocky Perinar led Minooka with 12 kills and Papesh added 11, but Minooka hit just .071 as a team with 23 hitting errors. Sophomore setter Zoey Seput had 26 assists and senior libero Taylor Baranski dug 20 balls.
“We just had too many unforced errors, too many hitting errors … way too many hitting errors,” said Minooka coach Carrie Prosek. “We rely on our offense and our defense has always been great, but you can't make that many hitting errors in the game.
“We probably gave them a good 15 points on us hitting the ball out … not just out, way out,” she said.
In the third-place match, Crystal Lake Central (33-4) outlasted St. Charles North 25-19, 9-25, 25-23.
Five-foot-11 senior outside hitter Emily Kelly led the Tigers with 9 kills, while 6-foot senior opposite Megan Kelly (16 assists), 6-foot sophomore outside Camryn Hausler and 6-1 junior middle blocker Paige Hulata each had 6 kills.
St. Charles North (36-5) got 9 kills and 6 assists from 5-10 senior outside hitter Amanda Parker, 8 kills and 6 assists from 5-11 junior setter/rightside Katie Lanz, and 7 kills and 12 digs from 6-foot senior outside hitter Abby Graham.
Resurrection almost lived up to its name in the Class 3A championship match, picking itself off the floor after dropping a one-sided first set to heavily-favored Belleville Althoff. But the Crusaders used a 5-0 run to wipe out a 19-16 deficit and beat the Bandits 25-16, 25-23.
It marked Althoff’s first state championship in 11 trips to the state finals. The Crusaders’ best previous finish was second place in Class AA in 1999 under former coach Kathy Wuller.
“It means everything, but outside of these girls I wanted to win this for (Wuller), who's been such a role model for me,” said Althoff coach Sara Thomas-Dietrich, who played for Wuller from 2000-2003.
“I know I wouldn't be where I am without her,” Thomas-Dietrich added. “I dedicate my medal to her.”
Althoff wasted little time winning the first set, grabbing leads of 10-4, 14-7 and 20-13. A kill by Resurrection’s Christina Gatta got the Bandits within 21-15, but that was as close as the Chicagoans would get.
“It definitely helped to jumpstart and dominate right away,” said Althoff’s 6-foot-1 senior setter Louise Comerford. “That helped our confidence and momentum to move onto the next set.”
But Resurrection had other plans. The Bandits rallied from an early 9-5 deficit to to take a 19-16 lead on two kills by New Mexico State recruit Brittany Welch and another by 5-11 senior middle hitter Jordyn Sprunk.
“We knew (Welch), being a Division I athlete, would be capable of coming out and taking over the game, which she did,” Thomas-Dietrich said. “She put the pressure on us in the second set and their defense was very scrappy.”
But Althoff answered with 5 unanswered points and finally won on a smash down the line by 5-9 junior outside hitter Grace Strieker.
Six-foot-1 sophomore middle hitter Karinna Gall led Althoff (41-1) with 8 kills, 5-10 senior rightside Addie Burris had 7 kills, and Comerford (26 assists), 5-10 sophomore Katie Wemhoener (10 digs), Strieker and 5-10 senior middle Leighten Kaiser each had 4 kills.
Welch, a 5-9 senior outside hitter, led Resurrection with 9 kills and 11 digs. Five-foot-10 sophomore outside hitter Caitlin Coughlin added 6 kills, Sprunk had 5 kills and Gatta had 22 assists.
In the third-place match, after falling behind 11-6 early in the third set, Normal U-High (29-11) closed the match on a 19-8 run to defeat (Arlington Heights) St. Viator, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19.
Five-foot-8 sophomore setter/rightside Isabel Schaefbauer and 6-foot senior middle hitter Addy Loefler led the Pioneers with 11 kills each. Schaefbauer added 14 assists. Five-foot-11 senior outside hitter Catherine Hickey paced the Lions (29-13) with 15 kills and 5-6 senior setter Michaela Mueller had 29 assists and 11 digs.
In the Class 2A championship game, Champaign St. Thomas More (39-3) needed a little divine intervention to win the first state championship in that school’s history.
With the score tied at 21-21 in the third set against Quincy Notre Dame, St. Thomas More’s All-American Mica Allison was just trying to get a ball over when fate intervened.
The ball rode the net halfway across the court and gently fell on Notre Dame’s side of the court. The Raiders never scored again as the Sabres closed on a 4-0 run to win 18-25, 25-19, 25-21.
“We practice that, and we do it very well,” St. Thomas More coach Stan Bergman quipped. “I don't know what to say about it. When it went over, I said, ‘Oh my gosh. Thank you, Lord.’”
Allison, a 6-1 senior All-American headed to Auburn in the fall, finished with 12 kills, 12 assists and 5 digs. But none of her kills were as big as the last one.
“I was trying to get the ball over,” she said. “I was very scared. It seemed like it stayed on the tape forever. I said, “Please go over.” When it did, I thought, “This is ours. We got this.”
Notre Dame (33-9) dominated the first set, taking a 21-9 lead behind 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Sydney Hummert and a flurry of Sabre hitting errors. St. Thomas More broke an 8-8 in the second game with a 13-7 run setting up the decisive third game.
St. Thomas More eased to a 17-13 in Game 3, but Notre Dame answered with an 8-4 run capped by a Hummert smash. That’s when the volleyball powers smiled on Allison and St. Thomas More.
“We played pretty well at times today, and other times when we needed a big play it seemed like the ball bounced the other way,” said Notre Dame coach Rich Meyer. “They got a size mismatch on us from time to time and that’s part of it.”
Six-foot sophomore middle hitter Allie Trame had 10 kills for the Sabres, who also got 22 assists from 5-5 senior Hayes Murray, 9 kills from 6-foot senior middle hitter Lucy Lux-Rulon and 14 digs from 5-4 junior lilbero Haley Elam.
Hummert led Notre Dame with 12 kills, and Meredith Siebers, Monica Brown and Taylor Keck each had 4 kills. Sophomore setter Maddie Peters added 16 assists and Hannah Peters had 12 digs.
In the third-place match, Newton (32-8) had to work overtime to defeat Harvest Christian 20-25, 29-27, 25-22. The Eagles fought off three match points to win Game 2 and rallied from a 19-16 deficit to win the third set.
Five-foot-9 senior outside hitter Abby Frohning led Newton with 12 kills, 11 assists and 11 digs, while 5-7 senior outside hitter Amanda Cassidy had 17 kills and 16 digs for Harvest Christian (29-13).
In the Class 1A title match, Payson Seymour’s Josie Stanford bounced back from a quiet performance in Friday’s semifinal to lead the Lady Indians to a 25-12, 27-25 victory over Stewardson-Strasburg.
Stanford, a 6-foot-1 senior middle blocker, had 13 kills, 3 digs and a block for Payson-Seymour (41-1).
“I think that yesterday there were a lot of nerves … I had nerves,” Stanford said. “I was just overthinking everything. It's a good thing that Camryn (Flesner) and everyone was there to pick me up.
“Today, I knew from beginning when I woke up this morning that will it was going to be a good day,” she added.
The Lady Indians built an early 15-5 lead in the first set against the Comets and were never threatened. However, Stewardson-Strasburg (34-7) turned the tables on Payson Seymour in the second set and grabbed an early 10-4 lead.
Payson Seymour used a 14-5 run take a by two Stanford kills to take an 18-15 lead, but the Comets countered and finally earned a set point at 25-24 on a block by Maria Gentry and Kasey Bean.
However, the Lady Indians secured the first state championship in school history on two kills by 5-10 senior outside hitter Hylee Schmiedeskamp (10 kills) and another kill by Stanford.
“I think we stayed within ourselves really well today,” Stanford said. “We didn't let the pressure or the thought of the outcome get in our way. Does this feel like I thought it would? It feels better. So much better.”
Cassie Eidson had 26 assists and Melina Tedrow added 16 digs for Payson Seymour. Five-foot-11 junior outside hitter Megan Schlechte, who set a state record with 29 kills in Stewardson-Strasburg’s semifinal win, had 6 kills Saturday.
“Payson Seymour is the fastest team we’ve played this season,” Comets coach Ronda Schlechte said. “They were able to get around our block and we couldn’t get around them. Our defense was never in the right spot. They were very smart as far as where they placed their balls.”
In the third-place match, 5-8 junior outside hitter McKenzie Damon had 11 kills and 6 digs and 5-4 junior setter Marissa Kelsey added 27 assists and 9 digs as Durand (35-2-1) turned back Newark 25-19, 25-19. Five-foot-11 freshman Madi Malone led Newark (34-5) with 12 kills.
No surprises here.
Minooka and Marist advanced to their IHSA Class 4A Girls Volleyball state championship showdown by winning their semifinal matches Friday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal.
One year after falling in the title match to eventual national champion Mother McAuley, Minooka (39-2) survived a few anxious moments late in the first set to defeat St. Charles North 25-20, 25-12.
Six-foot senior outside Rocky Perinar led the Indians with 12 kills and 5 digs, 6-1 senior outside Alli Papesh and 6-2 senior outside Holly Bonde each had 8 kills, and 5-8 sophomore setter Zoey Seput added 22 assists and 9 digs.
“I think having the experience from last year, we came in doing exactly what we wanted to do,” Papesh said. “We talked about it during practice yesterday. This is what we have to do, this is how we’re going to do it, and we came out today and did it.”
Still, Minooka had to weather a furious North Star rally from down 20-12 to 23-20 in Game 1.
“We don't really focus too much on what our opponents do because we feel that the only way we’re going to lose is if we beat ourselves,” Papesh said. “We didn't do that, obviously. Everybody did their jobs. That why we won.”
Kills by Perinar and Bonde ended the first set, then Minooka flexed it muscle to cruise to an easy second-set win.
“They are a very, very talented team and very big,” said St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins of Minooka. “I thought we passed extremely well but we just couldn't really get around their block. Their block was amazing.”
Five-foot-9 junior Gigi Crescenzo led St. Charles North (36-4) with 7 kills and 6 digs, and 5-11 junior setter/rightside Katie Lanz added 5 kills, 9 assists and 5 digs.
“We tried as hard as we could to get (Minooka) out of system, and when we did we played really well,” Hawkins said. “But at the end of the day, they are really, really talented and well-rounded.”
Marist (40-1) exploited Crystal Lake Central’s errors in the early stages of the first set, then withstood the Tigers’ late 8-3 run that cut into a 20-14 deficit in Game 2 to advance to the championship match with a 25-13, 25-22 victory.
“We knew we were going to get a tough test from Crystal Lake Central,” said Marist coach Jordan Vidovic. “They are a strong, physical team with some really good young players. Thank you We knew we had to be ready for them.”
A kill by Savannah Thompson gave Marist 14-3 lead in Game 1.
“We were able to put some pressure on them and really tighten up the court defensively, which fed into our offense,” Vidovic said. “They did put together a couple of runs that I thought we handled really well.”
A service ace by Madde Blake sparked the Tigers’ 8-3 run in Game 2 after Marist had led by as many as 5 points early in the set at 14-9 on a kill by sophomore Camryn Hannah.
But a service error by the Tigers and a net violation sent Crystal Lake Central into Saturday’s third-place game at 7:25 p.m.
“Marist is a phenomenal team,” said Crystal Lake Central coach Lisa Brunstrum. “They got us out of system and weren’t able to run our attack. In the second half of the first set and the second set, we played more aggressively, especially with our serves, and our defense got a lot stronger.”
Thompson, a 5-11 senior outside hitter, led Marist with 9 kills and 8 digs. Five-foot-10 senior Maggie Meyer added 7 kills, 6-0 senior setter Molly Murrihy had 20 assists, and 5-8 senior libero Grace Green dug 11 balls.
Crystal Lake Central (32-4) got 5 kills each from 6-1 freshman middle hitter Madeline Timmerman and 6-0 sophomore outside hitter Camryn Hausler, and 3 kills, 8 assists and 6 digs from 6-0 senior setter/opposite Megan Kelly.
In Class 3A, Belleville Althoff (40-1) and Resurrection (34-8) advanced to the state championship match Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Resurrection shook off a 32-30 loss in the first set to defeat St. Viator 30-32, 25-23, 25-18. Five-foot-9 New Mexico State recruit Brittany Welch led the Bandits with 18 kills and 14 digs. She was also targeted relentlessly by St. Viator servers.
“It's very common,” Welch said. “Either they serve me the whole time or they don’t serve me at all. They try to get me out of system or get in my head. When I got aced those two times (late in the second set with Resurrection nursing a 23-20 lead), I knew I had to pick myself back up.”
Both teams had chances to win the first set earlier, but St. Viator’s Catherine Hickey netted two balls with St. Viator leading 24-20 and 24-21, and Welch was blocked by a pair of defenders with the Bandits in front 28-27.
The Lions finally put an end to the marathon game when Madison McEnaney’s serve deflected off a Resurrection defender.
The second set also had its fair share of drama. After trailing early, Resurrection took the lead for good at 14-13, and despite Welch’s serve receive errors that allowed St. Viator to get within 23-22, the Bandits won on a St. Viator service error.
The third set was all Resurrection, which raced out to leads of 10-5 and 16-10, winning on a kill by Welch.
Five-foot-10 sophomore Caitlin Coughlin added 10 kills, 5-8 junior setter Christina Gatta had 39 assists and 20 digs and 5-5 senior libero Natalie McDermott added 19 digs for Resurrection.
Hickey finished with 14 kills and Kaylee Liberty, a 5-9 junior, added 8 for St. Viator.
In the other semifinal, Belleville Althoff briefly flirted with disaster in the second set before defeating Normal U-High, winning 25-13, 25-21.
The Crusaders wasted little time taking control of the first set, grabbing a 6-1 lead and silencing Normal U-High's boisterous backing. The advantage swelled to 19-10 on a kill by Karinna Gall before Katie Wemhoener's putaway ended the set.
"We wanted to take away their momentum, their energy," said Belleville Althoff coach Sarah Thomas-Dietrich. "We focus on how we play and make changes as needed."
The Pioneers fell behind by as many as 6 points in the second set, but fought back to within 22-21 before Addie Burris' kill gave the Crusaders some breathing room. Burris finished the set and the match with another kill after a U-High hitting error gave the winners match point.
"We talked about avoiding (what happened in) the first set," said Normal U-High coach Mike Bolhuis. "The second set was more like we have played all year."
Gall, a 6-1 sophomore middle hitter, led Althoff with 7 kills. Burris added 6 kills, 5-9 junior outside Grace Strieker had 5 kills, 6-1 senior setter/rightside Louise Comerford had 5 killls, 18 assists and 5 digs, and Wemhoener, a 5-10 sophomore, contributed 4 kills and 11 digs.
Five-foot-11 junior Macy Tongate led Normal U-High (28-11) with 5 kills, 5-8 sophomore Isabel Schaefbauer added 4 kills and 19 assists, and 5-6 junior outside hitter Jessica McDowell had 4 kills and 8 digs.
Payson Seymour’s Kamryn Flesner picked a good time to have the best match of her career.
Flesner had 12 kills, including three in a row to spark a closing 13-3 run in Game 1, and hit a staggering .526 to lead the favorite Lady Indians to a 25-21, 25-13 victory over Newark in a semifinal of the IHSA Girls Volleyball Class 1A State Finals Friday at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University.
Payson Seymour (40-1) will play Stewardson-Strasburg (34-6) for the Class 1A state championship Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Newark (34-4) came out sizzling in the first set of its semifinal with Payson Seymour, building leads of 17-11 and 18-13. Newark’s sensational 5-foot-11 freshman Madi Malone had 4 of her team-high 8 kills over the first 30 points of the match.
But a pair of kills by Flesner got the Lady Indians within 18-15, prompting a Newark timeout. Flesner added another kill on the other side of the timeout, and Payson Seymour was in business.
“Honestly, I didn’t even know what the score was,” Flesner said. “I don’t even look at the scoreboard. I always feel we’re in control every single game even if we're down. I never had a doubt in my mind.
“My team was really hyping me up,” the 5-9 senior added. “We had a huge student section for our school, so that was very good. I was so excited I think I was jumping higher with all the enthusiasm.”
Payson Seymour turned the tables on the Lady Norsemen in Game 2, grabbing an early 11-5 lead. But unlike the Lady Indians in Game 1, Newark was unable to mount a sustained and lengthy comeback.
“I was so excited about the way we came out,” Newark coach Tonya Grayson said. “The girls came out pumped up. But Payson Seymour started making some runs at us, then they got on that little push at the end of the first set.
“After they built that sizable lead in Game 2, I felt we were just trading points with them,” the coach added. “That made the difference in the match.”
Six-foot junior middle blocker Riley Epperson and 5-10 sophomore Hylee Schmiedeskamp each had 6 kills for Payson Seymour. Junior setter Cassie Eidson contributed 26 assists and senior libero Melina Tedrow had 5 digs.
Six-foot sophomore middle blocker Mattie Chapman had 5 kills and 5-4 junior setter Olivia Nelson had 15 assists for Newark.
“Newark has some really great players,” said Payson Seymour coach Teresa Loos-Tedrow. “Malone is an awesome player. She’s just a freshman and she’s going to be phenomenal. We knew that we had to key on her and play our game.”
In the second Class 1A semifinal, Stewardson-Strasburg’s 5-11 junior Megan Schlechte set a state record for kills in a state finals match with 29 to lead the Comets to a 27-25, 24-26, 25-19 win over Durand.
Megan Schlechte broke the old record of 28 kills set by Mother McAuley’s Katie Schumacher against Downers Grove South in the 1996 Class AA title match.
“I wasn’t aware of that (the record),” said Megan Schlechte, who was set 55 times during the match. “There were just times in the match when the ball was set to the net and I was the only option. It felt good.”
The Comets (34-6) needed every one of Megan Schlechte’s kills after Durand won Game 2 on back-to-back kills by 6-foot middle hitter Kaite Asche after Stewardson-Strasburg rallied from a 21-17 deficit to tie the set at 24-24 on a kill by Maria Gentry.
Stewardson-Strasburg took command of the third set early, building leads of 8-3, 11-6 and 17-13. Durand closed within 17-16 on an ace by 5-4 junior setter Marissa Kelsey, but kills by Megan Schlechte and a pair by 5-10 senior outside hitter Kasey Bean ended the threat.
Bean had 10 kills and 5-6 junior setter Mackenzi Tabbert added 48 assists for Stewardson-Strasburg. Megan Schlechte and 5-8 senior libero Mikayla Haddock each added 15 digs.
Asche led Durand (34-2-1) with 15 kills, 5-8 junior outside hitter McKenzie Damon added 11 and Kelsey had 28 assists. Five-foot-7 junior outside hitter Katie Nevdal had 14 digs and 2 kills.
In Class 2A, Quincy Notre Dame (33-8) will meet Champaign St. Thomas More (38-3) for the state title Saturday at 1:55 p.m. after both won their semifinal matches in straight sets.
Quincy Notre Dame defeated Newton 25-19, 28-26, behind 7 kills from 5-8 sophomore Taylor Keck, 6 kills from 5-10 sophomore outside Sydney Hummert and 5 kills by 5-10 junior middle hitter Monica Brown.
“One thing the kids we have brought up have shown us over and over is that they’re athletic and they understand the game of volleyball,” said QND coach Rich Meyer. “Their volleyball IQ is extremely high.
“They understand the game and they understand what it takes to win,” he added. “It's like they see the court and they recognize what they can do and they do it. Sometimes kids don't have that.”
Five-foot-7 senior libero Hannah Peters had 19 digs and 5-4 junior setter Lauren Roberts had 15 digs for the Lady Raiders.
“I coached these kids on the junior high level and they have won every year,” Meyer said. “It seems the more pressure we put on them the better they get.”
Newton (31-8) was led by 5-9 senior outside hitter Abby Frohning’s 15 kills. Five-foot-10 sophomore Renee Probst added 5 kills and 5-8 sophomore setter Maddi Hemrich added 15 assists.
St. Thomas More defeated Harvest Christian 25-8, 25-21 as 6-1 Auburn recruit Mica Allison had 9 kills and 9 assists, 6-1 sophomore middle blocker Allie Trame had 6 kills and 5-5 senior setter Hayes Murray added 11 assists and 3 digs.
“We focus on five games to 5 (points), so if we can control our serves and control our serve-receive we’ll be in good shape,” Allison said. “We usually let up in the second set, and one of the first things we said between games was ‘Don’t let up.’”
Harvest Christian (29-12) took a brief 8-6 lead in Game 2 and was still within 20-19 on a service ace by Hannah Griffith before the Sabers pulled away on two hitting errors by the Lions and kills by Nakaya Hughes and Allison.
“St. Thomas More is one the best teams we've seen all year, and we’ve played some of the biggest teams out there,” said Harvest Christian coach Mike Bui said. “We just couldn’t stop them.”
Five-foot-7 senior outside hitter Amanda Cassidy led Harvest Christian with 9 kills and 3 digs. Five-foot-8 sophomore middle hitter Madison Pfister added 4 kills and 5-4 junior setter Kaitlyn Murray had 18 assists and 5 digs.
“The environment was really nerve-racking for our kids to start, but we did a really good job in the second game,” he added. “You can only do so much against big kids who can hit the ball hard.”
August 26. Seemingly an eternity ago.
Two-and-a-half months ago, Marist and Minooka met in the championship match of the Plainfield North tournament. Minooka used a 13-7 run to break a 6-6 tie in Game 1 and breezed to a 25-20 win. A tournament title and statement victory seemed inevitable.
But a funny thing happened on the Indians’ way to claiming the championship plaque.
Marist countered with a 16-7 run in Game 2 to break a 4-4 tie, than built an 18-12 advantage in the third set to defeat Minooka 20-25, 25-15, 25-18.
The two teams are heavily favored to meet again this weekend for the Class 4A state title at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal..
Marist (39-1) is coming off a revenge win over Mother McAuley – the only team to defeat the RedHawks this season -- in the supersectional on the Mighty Macs’ home floor, while Minooka (38-2) avenged its only other loss by beating Edwardsville at Normal West.
“It was an exciting week for us capped off with a big win on Friday night to earn our spot at state,” said Marist coach Jordan Vidovic. “We felt very prepared and executed our game plan throughout led by our seniors who refused to lose that game. The win was a product of a lot of hard work and dedication that goes a lot further back than this season.”
Much like it has been all season, Marist is led by 6-foot-1 Memphis recruit Molly Murrihy, outside hitter Savannah Thompson and sensational 6-1 sophomore Camryn Jordan. But the RedHawks have not stood pat since late August.
“We've been adding elements in practice week by week and have gained valuable experience through the top-level schedule we have played,” Vidovic said. “We have been battle-tested and feel prepared for any situation this weekend.”
Few teams have played the schedule that Marist has. But Minooka has not exactly been beating patsies, either, with wins over Geneva, Sandburg, Joliet Catholic, Benet (twice) and fellow final four qualifier Crystal Lake Central in the finals of the Mother McAuley Preview.
Led by 6-1 outside hitter Alli Papesh, 6-foot outside Rocky Perinar and libero Taylor Baranski and with all but one starter back from last year’s state runner-up, the Indians have performed under the microscope all season.
“Our message has always been about character, consistency and competing for the betterment of the person next to you rather than competing only for yourself,” said Minooka coach Carrie Prosek. “This year, we have added another mantra – ownership.
“Owning our victories and giving credit where it is due, owning our losses and errors and learning from those matches, and owning the effort and competitive attitude needed for tough practices and matches,” the coach added.
Although Marist and Minooka seemed destined to meet for the title late Saturday night, don’t expect Crystal Lake Central (32-3) or St. Charles North (37-3) to wilt under the glare of the bright lights and spacious confines of Redbird Arena.
First-time state qualifier St. Charles North has weathered a schedule that includes Benet, Sandburg, St. Francis, St. Charles East, Wheaton North, Waubonsie Valley, Metea Valley and 3A qualifier St. Viator behind multi-talented 6-foot junior rightside Katie Lanz (283 kills, 89 aces, 24 blocks, 191 digs).
“This is an extremely special group and we are thrilled that we get to spend one more week together, doing what we've been doing the entire season … striving to be the best team we can be,” said St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins.
Lanz gets help from 6-foot senior Abby Graham (216 kills, 222 digs) and 5-10 junior Gigi Crescenzo (202 kills, 288 digs).
“We know that the competition this weekend is fierce, but we have been saying all along that the road to state is never easy and we wouldn't want it any other way,” Hawkins said. “We are looking forward to facing off with some of the very best competition in the state.”
Crystal Lake Central is also making its first foray in the 4A field, having won it all in 3A in 2007 and finishing fourth in 2009 under the late Doug Blundy. The Tigers have the size and talent to make some noise this weekend.
“We know it's going to be a very tough weekend as there are some great teams,” said Crystal Lake Central coach Lisa Brunstrum. “We've really focused on one match at a time, and this team has worked to improve every time they get to take the court together, whether it is at practice or in a match.”
The Tigers are led by twins Emily Kelly and Megan Kelly, Kendall Lownds and Olivia Doak, but also get major contributions from 6-foot sophomore Madde Blake, 5-11 sophomore outside Camryn Hausler and 6-foot freshman Madeline Timmerman.
“They are excited to get to play two more matches together as a team,” Brunstrum said.
Here is a quick look at this weekend’s state finals:
St. Charles North (37-3) vs. Minooka (38-2), 7:00 p.m.
Marist (39-1) vs. Crystal Lake Central (32-3), 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: Minooka is not really a darkhorse. With five starters back from last year’s state runner-up, in any other year they might have been an odds-on favorite. But Marist has been virtually unbeatable this season and Vidovic, a record-breaking setter who guided Brother Rice to a fourth-place finish on the boys side in 2004 (the same year Matt McCarthy and Doug Burchett led Wheaton Warrenville South to a 40-0 record), is a master tactician. The wildcard for the RedHawks is Hannah, who projects to be one of the nation’s top recruits as a setter in 2019-20. The Indians, meanwhile have state experience and motivation after last season’s season-ending loss to Mother McAuley. “The goal for this team has been to leave a legacy, and their goal was to return to Redbird Arena at Illinois State,” Prosek said. “So what lies ahead this weekend for the Indians is hard work, ownership, the goal of remaining consistent, having each other’s backs and having fun.”
St. Viator (29-11) vs. Resurrection (31-8), 4:00 p.m.
Normal U-High (28-10) vs. Belleville Althoff (39-1), 5:30 p.m.
Favorite: Belleville Althoff
Darkhorse: St. Viator
Outlook: Belleville Althoff has been among the state’s best this season regardless of class, and it’s hard to imagine the Crusaders getting derailed here. Five-foot-11 setter Louise Comerford (791 assists, 43 aces, 182 digs, 124 kills) is the one who makes it all happen for Althoff. She feeds the likes of 6-foot sophomore Karinna Gall (293 kills), 5-9 senior Addie Burris (221 kills) and 5-6 sophomore Katie Wemhoener (214). St. Viator should benefit from a brutal schedule that includes East Suburban Catholic Conference foes Marian Catholic, Benet, Joliet Catholic and Marist. The Lions are powered by 5-11 outside hitter Catherine Hickey’s 533 kills including a season-best 26 in a three-set win over Carmel and 21 in St. Viator’s supersectional win over Limestone. Five-foot-10 junior Kate Notoli is next with 199 kills. Five-foot-9 senior Brittany Welch powers the Bandits of Resurrection, who overwhelmed Latin 25-16, 25-15 in the supersectional.
Newton (31-7) vs. Quincy Notre Dame (32-8), 12:00 p.m.
St. Thomas More (37-3) vs. Harvest Christian Academy (30-10), 1:30 p.m.
Favorite: Quincy Notre Dame
Darkhorse: Harvest Christian Academy
Outlook: Harvest Christian coach Mike Bui is no stranger to big matches, having served as an assistant at St. Charles East for several years. The Lions have also stepped up in class on several occasions against the likes of Benet, Neuqua Valley, St. Viator, Huntley and Barrington, so they are unlikely to be overwhelmed here against Champaign’s St. Thomas More. After six previous tries to get out of the sectional, the Lions defeated Galena 25-15, 25-23 behind 5-7 senior Amanda Cassidy’s 10 kills and 7 kills from 5-6 sophomore Zoe Pawelek. Nevertheless, Quincy Notre Dame rates a slight edge in a privately-dominated field despite starting four sophomores – Meredith Siebers, outside hitter Sidney Hummert, setter Maddie Peters and outside hitter Taylor Keck. Hummert led Quincy Notre Dame past defending state champion Eureka in Friday’s supersectional with 18 kills.
Newark (34-3) vs. Payson Seymour (39-1), 9:00 a.m.
Durand (34-1-1) vs. Stewardson-Strasburg (33-6), 10:30 a.m.
Favorite: Payson Seymour
Outlook: Newark set a school record for wins in a season (34) and qualified for the state finals for the first time in program history with its 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 win over Lexington in Friday's supersectional at Serena. Freshman Madi Malone led Newark with had 18 kills, 16 digs and 3 blocks, sophomore Mattie Chapman added 7 kills and 5 blocks, and setter Olivia Nelson had 24 assists and 7 digs. But if Newark is the Cinderella story of the tournament, then Payson Seymour is the big bad wolf. The Indians needed just 38 minutes to crush Steeleville 25-12, 25-10 in their supersectional Friday, serving up 9 aces along the way. Payson Seymour has been ranked among the state’s top small-school teams all season, and when previously unbeaten Kewanee Wethersfield went down in the sectional, the path to the state title was cleared.
Minooka’s regular season was bookended by a loss to Marist in the finals at Plainfield North and a loss to Edwardsville in the finals at the Lyons tournament.
If the Indians are going to avenge those two losses, they will have to start Friday at 7:00 p.m. when they renew acquaintance with Edwardsville (31-5) in a Class 4A supersectional at Normal Community West.
The second meeting between Edwardsville and Minooka (37-2) was a far cry from the 25-18, 25-19 beatdown the Indians handed the Tigers at the St. Charles East Scholastic Cup. Edwardsville took down the defending state runner-up 25-22, 28-26 in their rematch.
“Edwardsville dug the crap out of us,” Minooka coach Carrie Prosek said. “They did awesome. The first time we played them, we just hit all our shots. The second time, they started digging us and my girls started making hitting errors. Edwardsville dug us and killed us on their offense by tipping.”
Edwardsville also has one advantage that Benet did not have during its 25-20, 25-20 loss to Minooka in the sectional finals at Waubonsie Valley – size.
The Tigers can throw 6-foot-1 freshman Storm Suhre, 6-foot Rachel Pranger and 6-foot senior Kate Martin at Minooka’s front line of 6-2 Holly Bonde, 6-foot Rocky Perinar and 6-1 Alli Papesh.
Benet, with only one starter over 6-foot, tried to adjust its back end defense to slow down the Minooka attack.
“We played a completely different defense than we did all year trying to get to different spots and cover all the angles,” Benet coach Brad Baker said. “We gave kids like our libero (sophomore Hattie Monson) and our middle backs free releases in the hopes that we get deep enough and maybe get on some of those balls.”
Despite the changes, Benet could only watch as Minooka launched shot after shot over its block.
“Their (Minooka’s) balls are coming so fast and such tempo that we could not get to where we needed to dig those balls,” Baker said. “They were hitting over our kids. We sided out at a pretty good rate, but their rate was great.”
Meanwhile, Minooka is also dealing with the pressure of a lineup that features all seniors save setter Zoey Seput and a second-place finish on its resume from 2016.
“This group has a lot more pressure than other teams because obviously everybody's expecting something,” Prosek added. “We don't talk about that. I tell them not to read the papers, just go out and play the match that we have that day, play for themselves and for the team.”
“Our ultimate goal is to go to state, but when the team has as much pressure as this one I don't want them reading and feeding off of everything,” she added. “We just need to worry about playing our game and not worry about what everyone else is doing.”
Here is a brief look at the other Class 4A supersectionals (in bracket order) Friday.
St. Charles North (36-3) vs. Downers Grove North (27-12), 6:00 p.m.
This is a rematch of a match won by Downers Grove North 19-25, 25-21, 25-22 in a gold bracket quarterfinal of the Wheaton Classic back on September 16. Six-foot-1 outside hitter Clare Delaplane led the Trojans in that match with 11 kills and 6-foot junior Margaret Mahlke added 9 kills. Downers Grove North’s record is misleading. The Trojans have played one of the toughest schedules in the state with matches against Mother McAuley, Marian Catholic, Benet, Marist, Sandburg, Joliet Catholic and St. Francis. Junior rightside Katie Lanz is St. Charles North’s top weapon with 274 kills and 87 aces on the season. Senior Abby Graham has added a little more than 200 kills while junior gives Lindsey Hawkins’ crew a solid third option.
At Lake Zurich
Crystal Lake Central (32-3) vs. New Trier (34-5), 6:00 p.m.
You have to feel that a strong Fox Valley conference schedule that included matches again Prairie Ridge, Huntley and Cary-Grove and non-conference matches against Minooka and Wheaton North gives Crystal Lake Central a slight edge here. The Tigers have size in sophomore Camryn Hauser (6-foot), 6-foot sophomore Madde Blake, 6-1 freshman Madeline Timmerman and the Kelly twins – Megan (6-foot) and Emily (5-11) – and chemistry. Megan Kelly is a two-way threat at both setter and opposite. New Trier, which rarely strays from the northern suburbs during the regular season, defeated Hersey 21-25, 25-12, 25-17 in the sectional final on its home court n Winnetka. The Trevians got 12 kills from 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Gillian Klise in that match.
At Mother McAuley
Mother McAuley (35-4) vs. Marist (38-1), 7:00 p.m.
The only blemish on Marist’s record is a 25-20, 25-17 loss to McAuley on the Mighty Macs’ home floor back on September 12. Marist is led by 5-10 outside hitter Savannah Thompson, 6-foot sophomore Camryn Hannah, 5-9 middle blocker Katie Hogan and 6-foot setter Molly Murrihy. McAuley counters with Gatorade Player of the Year candidate Charley Niego (456 kills), 5-10 sophomore rightside Amia Owolabi, 5-9 sophomore Alena Pedrozza and setter Nancy Kane. McAuley is the defending state and national champion and has won 15 in a row since a surprising 25-18, 25-22 loss to Joliet Catholic in the semifinals of the Asics Challenge back on September 30. Can the Mighty Macs parlay a raucous home court advantage into an upset of the No. 1-ranked RedHawks? Can Marist overcome the McAuley mystique? The winner will be favored to meet Minooka in the state championship match on November 11.
Class 3A (in bracket order)
St. Viator vs. Bartonville Limestone at Rochelle, 7:00 p.m.
Latin vs. Resurrection at IC Catholic Prep, 7:00 p.m.
Tinley Park vs. Normal U-High at Tinley Park, 6:00 pm.
Belleville Althoff vs. Mt. Zion at Salem, 6:00 p.m.
Class 2A (in bracket order)
Carlinville vs. Newton at Vandalia, 6:00 p.m.
Eureka vs. Quincy Notre Dame at Illini Bluffs, 7:00 p.m.
St. Thomas More vs. Aurora Christian at Seneca, 7:00 p.m.
Harvest Christian vs. Galena at Harvest Christian, 7:00 p.m.
Class 1A (in bracket order)
Newark vs. Lexington at Serena, 7:00 p.m.
Steeleville vs. Payson Seymour at Raymond Lincolnwood, 7:00 p.m.
West Prairie vs. Durand at (Varna) Midland, 6:00 p.m.
Cobden vs. Stewardson Strasburg at Farina (South Central), 6:00 p.m.