There was a little shakeup in the Prepvolleyball.com Century Club National Rankings after Mother McAuley’s win at the Asics Challenge two weeks ago. The Mighty Macs, who had fallen to 13th after losing to St. Francis, climbed all the way up to No. 5.
Mercy Academy (28-0), which defeated Assumption for the third time this season, remained No. 1. Assumption fell to No. 6.
Among Illinois teams, Benet climbed four spots to No. 30, St. Francis fell from eighth to No. 59 after losing twice at the Asics Challenge and to Assumption earlier in the week. Lyons moved up a spot to No. 67.
Teams on the bubble from Illinois include Cary Grove, Crystal Lake Central, De La Salle, Geneva, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way North, Marist, Sandburg and St. Charles East.
Benet’s 6-3 Northwestern-bound middle hitter Rachel Fara was named tournament MVP at last weekend’s St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament. Fara was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Tiffany Clark and Dana Griffin.
Also named to the team were Kaitlyn Fisher and Allie Lindroth from runner-up Plainfield North, Megan Schildmeyer and Mikaela Mosquera of St. Charles East, Maddy Moser of Normal West, Lauren Fuller of Hinsdale Central, Kaelan Haag from Neuqua Valley, Kelsey Wicinski of Geneva and junior Ashley Dodson of Leon (Fla.).
Geneva had a rough day Saturday at the St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament. The Vikings lost their Gold bracket opener to Normal West 25-16 25-20, then fell to Neuqua Valley 26-24 after leading 23-18 in the third set.
“Youth is part of it,” Geneva coach Annie Seitelman said. “There was just a mental breakdown. We had (Neuqua Valley) on the ropes and they did a nice job fighting back. When it got tight, we were playing a little too timid and not staying as aggressive as we were earlier in the set.”
Geneva did avoid going 0-for-Saturday when the Vikings bounced back to defeat Leon (Fla.) for seventh place.
What next for Geneva (21-6), which is seeded No. 2 at the Bartlett sectional?
“We got to go up,” Seitelman said. “You always have to go up. This tournament is a great competitive tournament for us. Every match we play is a learning experience. There are things that we need to continue to work on in practice, but you want to see some of those things you’ve been working on translating into some of the matches.
“We have a few weeks before the postseason. This tournament will get us ready for that mentality.”
After winning the first set against Benet in the semifinals of the St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament, things went from good to bad in a hurry for St. Charles East, which dropped the second set 25-11. Benet eventually won 23-25, 25-11, 25-16.
“We woke up a sleeping beast, didn’t we?” St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. “But I was pleased the way the girls played the third game. Once you get pummeled like that, you got to lick some wounds and get back in it. Sometimes, that’s the way it is.
“I was pleased that they came back in the third game and rallied. Benet is a great team. They have a lot of weapons. I was pleased that we were able to take that first one and get a little confidence. That’s what we needed.”
Benet has beaten St. Charles East twice this season, and the teams could meet a third time in the Bartlett Class 4A Sectional. The Redwings are seeded No. 1 and the Saints are No. 3.
“Hopefully, we’ll see them again,” Kull said.
Hinsdale Central lost junior middle blocker Nicole Hilbrich for the season to a knee injury and setter Brooke Istvan left after her team’s first match Saturday at St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament to serve on the school’s homecoming court.
But the Red Devils had a couple of youngsters step up to help them defeat Leon 25-22, 29-27 and Neuqua Valley 25-23, 25-22 to finish fifth in the Gold division.
“I saw some good things out of younger kids,” Hinsdale Central coach Kelly Moran said. “We had a couple of younger setters who were still able to run the offense, and our hitters were as efficient if not more efficient than they have been in recent matches.”
Sophomore Gillian Lail stepped into Hilbrich’s role in the middle and Emily Knudsen stepped in at setter.
“Gillian is a nice addition in the middle,” Moran said. “This is the first time she had to play varsity matches and not when were up by a lot, so I saw a lot of good blocking and transitioning. Better than what we’ve seen at practice.
“Knudsen set part of the season for the varsity last year, and then some kids passed her over the summer. But she’s put in a lot of work during the season to make sure that she could earn that spot back, and she’s on her way to doing it.”
Sophomore setter Sara Nielsen was a big part of Benet’s championship match win at St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament, and it wasn’t only her setting that pleased coach Brad Baker.
Nielsen had four kills in the third game against Plainfield North, finding openings in the middle of the Tigers’ defense after her outside hitters found the going a little rough against the Plainfield North block.
“It’s been one of our focuses for a year now for her to learn to be more offensive,” Baker said. “She’s coming into it. She’s coming into it and becoming better at all the little things we’re working on like getting the ball to our other middle (Marissa Tassone).
“We need everything to click at the end of the year. Those are the little things we need.”
Looking for a darkhorse in the state tournament?
Try Plainfield North.
The Tigers (21-8) are seeded ninth in the T.F. South Class 4A Sectional and would have to get past No. 1 seed Lincoln-Way North in the Romeoville Regional. But the Tigers will be at full strength now that middle hitter Lauren Robeck is back after suffering an injury before the season began.
“Lauren is huge key to our team,” Plainfield North’s Allie Lindroth said. “We’re ready to put her to work and get her more involved. If we keep working on our serve receive, I think we’ll be fine down the road from here.”
Looking for a darkhorse at the 2016 St. Charles East Mizuno Cup tournament?
Try Leon (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Leon, which participates in the tournament every other year, featured six sophomores and a freshman among its top 14 players last weekend, including super sophomore middle hitter Caroline Kirk and fellow sophomore middle hitter Caroline Dempsey.
The Leon players enjoyed the downtown Chicago sights Thursday, took a walk down the Magnificent Mile and experienced Chicago-style pizza at Giordano’s before beginning tournament play Friday.
Despite its youth, Leon (14-9) won its pool and finished eighth in the 24-team tournament.
St. Charles North is looking for a team for its sophomore tournament October 18. If interested, contact St. Charles North coach Lindsey Hawkins email@example.com.