Brozynski: Girls volleyball notebook

SHARE Brozynski: Girls volleyball notebook

A team that could make its way to Normal in a few weeks is Loyola.

The Ramblers (22-9) are the top seed at the Maine East sectional, where they figure to have very little difficulty, and would likely have to get past De La Salle at the Evanston supersectional to earn a berth downstate.

“We’ve been in a lot of tournaments lately, this weekend along with last weekend when we were in the Glenbrook North tournament,” Loyola coach Mark Chiang said. “We’ve been doing really well in pool play, coming out strong and going up against some of the tougher teams in the first place bracket.”

After beating Providence and West Aurora to win its pool at Autumnfest, Loyola lost to Benet (25-20, 25-19) and Crystal Lake South (25-19, 25-11) before defeating Downers Grove North (25-18, 25-16) to capture seventh place.

“(The first-place bracket) has been posing somewhat of a challenge for us, but were growing,” Chiang said. “We’ve really matured over the season. We lost seven seniors last year, but we have seven juniors who are starters and will be with us another year, so that’s exciting.”

The Ramblers are led by setter 5-foot-9 junior setter Katie Randolph, 6-2 junior outside hitter Christina Reed, 6-foot junior middle Kate Pillion, 5-6 libero Lauren Stadler and 5-11 junior outside hitter Olivia Van Zelst.

“Katie run a great offense,” Chiang said. “She has a very high volleyball acumen, very good offensive instincts and can read the block. Reed on the outside is playing out of her mind right now. Whatever she touches is getting kills for us.

“Kate is very good at reading the other side and is able to contest any shot coming our way whether alone or with help. She also runs a fantastic slide which has been really effective for us. Stadler is one of those girls who just will not let the ball drop and can read where the ball’s going outside of the block.”

Chiang was an assistant at Loyola for 11 years and is in his third year as head coach. The future looks bright, even beyond next year when his juniors have another year of experience.

“I feel like we’ve got some really good momentum, especially in recent years with the type of players who are coming through Loyola,” he said. “I’m really excited to see what we do in the playoffs this season and how we’ll perform next season.”


There was very little movement in the Century Club rankings last week.

Mercy Academy (31-0) of Louisville, Kentucky, remained No.1 and Mother McAuley held fast at No. 5. Benet moved up to No. 13 after spending a week at No. 30, but whether the Redwings stay there or not next week after their loss to McAuley at Autumnfest is uncertain.

St. Francis, which dropped to No. 59 after its Asics performance, moved up two spots to No. 57, while Lyons climbed to No. 62 from 67 the previous week. Joining the rankings for the first time this season was Marist, which visits Benet on Thursday.

Illinois teams on the bubble include Cary Grove, Crystal Lake Central, De La Salle, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way North, Sandburg and St. Charles East.


Mary Kate Byrnes, a senior outside hitter at De La Salle, was named the Max Preps/AVCA Player of the Week for the state of Illinois for October 6-13. Byrnes is the first player from De La Salle to receive that recognition. Byrnes had 77 kills, 54 digs, 58 serve receptions, three blocks and five aces in 17 games played.

The MaxPreps/AVCA High School Player of the Week Program is a partnership between the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and CBS MaxPreps, Inc. Each week, MaxPreps and the AVCA recognize deserving student-athletes at the high school level who have demonstrated outstanding play on the court throughout the week of competition.

Previous award winners in Illinois include Huntley setter Kelsey DeWulf, Schaumburg outside hitter

Oyinkan Akinola, Morris junior outside hitter Kaylin Korte, and Hinsdale Central’s senior outside hitter Lauren Fuller.


Mother McAuley middle hitter Kelsey Clark was named the MVP of the Autumnfest Tournament hosted by Glenbard East last week. Joining her on the all-tournament team were teammate Ryann DeJarld, and middle hitter Rachael Fara and sophomore setter Sara Nielsen of runner-up Benet.

Also named to the team were Glenbard West junior outside hitter Natalie Schilling, Normal Community setter Erika Peoples, Loyola junior outside Christina Reed, Downers Grove North’s outside Grace Larson,

St. Charles East’s middle hitter Mikaela Mosquera and Crystal Lake South outside Carly Nolan.

Also, Glenbard East setter Sam Bell, Waubonsie Valley outside Caroline Cordes, Joliet Catholic setter Mary Murphy, Mt. Pulaski outside Whitney Nichols and Naperville Central libero Lianne White.


Marist (25-7) enjoyed a successful weekend at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., going 4-1 to win the Gold Division.

Marist defeated Ironwood Ridge (Ariz.) 25-18, 24-26, 15-9,  Ralston Valley (Ariz.) 25-10, 25-13, Vintage (Calif.) 25-11, 27-29, 15-10 and Valencia (Calif.) 20-25, 25-23, 15-12. The RedHawks’ lone loss was to Clovis (Calif.), 25-22, 25-20.

Marist’s Cameron Enright was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Gold Division after a performance that included 42 kills, 51 digs and seven aces. Emily Graff added 46 kills and 11 blocks, and Lizzie Zaleski had 126 assists, 18 kills, eight aces and 18 blocks.


The four semifinalists at Autumnfest  – Mother McAuley, Benet, St. Charles East and Glenbard West – all feed into the Hinsdale Central supersectional. Include Downers Grove North and five of the eight quarterfinalists are in the Hinsdale Central supersectional field.

The only quarterfinalists who could not find their way to Hinsdale Central are Loyola (the top seed at Maine East), Crystal Lake South (a No. 2 regional seed at the Crystal Lake South sectional) and Normal (the top seed at its own regional feeding into its own sectional).

“It’s frustrating when you see that the top four teams in a tournament of this caliber are all in the same supersectional,” said St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull, whose team is seeded No. 3 at Bartlett, where No. 10 seed Yorkville is 28-1.

“I know that somebody is trying to do something or make some statement, but I think it really hurts the kids more than anything else. They IHSA is asking for our support. I hope that they reconsider and start seeding volleyball like they do football and give our girls the respect that they deserve.”

Loyola finished seventh at Autumnfest, but Schaumburg, which is the No. 2 seed at Maine East, placed 19th in the 24-team field.


Normal got an firsthand look at the McAuley juggernaut when the two teams met in an Autumnfest  quarterfinal won by the Mighty Macs, 25-19, 25-17. The two teams could meet again in a Class 4A semifinal at Redbird Arena.

“McAuley by far is the best team that we have seen this year,” Normal coach Christine Konopasek said. “I think we came out were flat. They don’t start flat. They start from the get-go, and we were timid and we made some errors. All those things came back to haunt us.

“We don’t have the option to play a halfway game with them because they’re going take advantage of it. Clearly they did. It was not our best volleyball. I thought that it was our worst serve-receive game of the season. Hopefully, it’s a learning experience.”

Konopasek said the tournament gives Normal (23-4) a chance to play some top quality teams.

“We don’t see the caliber of these teams necessarily down by us all the time,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for us to see some different people, see some quality teams and get better, get better this weekend before we go into postseason in two weeks.”

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