Batavia’s 25-18, 25-13 loss to top-seeded Benet at the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Regional Tuesday in Naperville ended coach Lori Trippi-Payne’s 28th season as head coach.
But she ain’t going nowhere any time soon.
Only a handful of active Illinois coaches have been around as long or won as many matches as Trippi-Payne, who registered her 500th career win earlier this season. Hersey’s Nancy Lill, Lyons’ Joann Pyritz and St. Francis’ Peg Kopec are among those few.
Trippi-Payne may never catch Kopec, who has more than 1,200 wins in her career, but she wants to continue coaching as long as she can.
“I want to stay coaching for a long time,” she said. “I want them to wheel me out in a cart and say, ‘Trippi, you’re done. You can’t stand up anymore. You can’t coach.’ I love coaching these kids. They’re great kids. It’s a great program.
“We’ve had a big run of a lot of winning seasons, some All-State players, that kind of thing. We’ve had a lot of good kids come through, kids with great attitudes, hard workers. I like being where I’m at coaching these kids, and we get a lot out of what we get talent-wise, too. The kids work hard.”
Tuesday’s match with Benet did not produce the type of result Trippi-Payne or her players would have liked, but it did provide some memorable moments.
“It’s always exciting when your setter (junior Sam Bradle) turns around, she’s in her first year setting for us, she turns around so excited because she just blocked (Benet’s 6-3 middle) Rachael Fara,” Trippi-Payne said. “That’s what you want to see. Then girls were pumped up to play and laid it all out.”
Batavia figures to among the area’s top teams in 2015. The Bulldogs return all but three players from this year’s 13-23 team, including Bradle, freshman outside Jenna Garrett, rightside Alyssa Klehm, middle Aasha Dave, outside Maddy Astling and defensive specialist Katelynn Fegan.
One player who will not return for Batavia next year is 5-6 libero Maddie Jaudon. Next fall, Jaudon is headed to Elon University, a Division I school in Elon, North Carolina.
“She will be a big loss for us,” Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. “Tuesday, she got her 400th dig of the season. She’s a great ballplayer. She’s a huge reason why we have been competitive this season. She has matched many other great players dig for dig in our matches.
“Her defense, serving and serve receive are top-notch compared to what we have seen this season, and that is saying a lot, considering our playing schedule includes very high-caliber teams. She calls shots for our hitters and she helps our blockers adjust their block accordingly for our defense to be effective.”
Jaudon was a three-year varsity player and two-year starting libero for Batavia. She missed only three of 272 serves all season, added 18 aces, led Batavia in scoring with 143 points, added 12 kills and 38 assists out of the back row and was 95 percent on serve receive.
She was also a unanimous All-Upstate Eight River Conference selection.
“She ranks in the top five for serve receive career consistency and her career digs will be over 800, putting her second all-time behind (current Loyola libero) Stephanie Kinane,” Trippi-Payne said.
Another team to watch next season is Plainfield East, the sixth seed in the Class 4A T.F. South Sectional which was upset by No. 11 Marian Catholic 25-23, 25-22 Tuesday at Joliet Central.
The Bengals graduate four seniors, but return four juniors, three sophomores and a freshman from this year’s 11-15-1 team including 6-foot junior setter Mackenzi Welsh, one of the top players in the Class of 2016.
“I think we do have some experience, and we also lack a lot of experience,” she said. “I think the more experienced players try to step up to help the team, but it’s hard to control everything when you have some experience and some not.
“It will get better as the years go on. I see our program is definitely going to get better. We just have to work a lot harder.”
Other players expected to return for Plainfield East in 2015 are 5-9 sophomore middle hitter Sara Mokrzycka, 5-7 freshman opposite Malia Gamen, 5-10 sophomore outside Roberta Jokubauskate, junior libero Jade Blakney and sophomore defensive specialist Paris Pickney.
You wonder how Yorkville might have fared had the Foxes been assigned anywhere other than the Bartlett Sectional, where even a school history-best 29-2 record could buy them no better than a No. 10 seed.
Yorkville’s season ended Tuesday in a 25-18, 25-19 loss to DuPage Valley Conference champion Wheaton North, but coach Mike Dunn is probably already looking ahead to 2015 and the return of 6-1 junior outside hitter Jordan Albarran.
Albarran led Yorkville in kills with 164, was third on the team with 31 aces, third on the team with 35 blocks and second on the team with 173 digs. She was the co-MVP of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference.
“Jordan is a great player and great kid,” Dunn said. “She’s the face of our program, she has great character and work ethic and does the right thing.”
Albarran, who is committed to the University of Dayton, is a three-time all-conference selection and has led the Foxes to 71 wins in her three seasons on varsity.
Lake Zurich lost to Cary-Grove 25-16, 25-16 in a semifinal Tuesday at the Class 4A Cary-Grove Regional, bringing an end to the high school career of 5-9 senior Mickenzie Andrews.
Maybe no other player in the state did as much for her team – which typically featured a rotation of two freshman, four sophomores and a junior – as Andrews.
“We were about as average as a team as there could be this year,” Lake Zurich coach Matt Aeillo said. “We hovered right around .500 all season. But without Andrews, I don’t know if we win five matches.”
A three-year starter, Andrews played everywhere this year but setter.
“She was our best hitter, blocker, passer and server,” Aiello said. “She literally did everything at an elite level. When I asked her to be libero, she willingly sacrificed for us and gave us a chance against top teams.
“She has hit outside, middle and right side.Wherever the opposing team’s best player was, Mickenzie was matched up with her. Whenever we talk about the best all-around player ever at Lake Zurich, Mickenzie is in the discussion.”
Prepvolleyball.com reported that five Illinois players recently committed to colleges.
Amber Casey, a 5-4 senior setter from Mother McAuley, has committed to the University of St. Francis; Catie Cronister, a 5-9 junior outside hitter from the Latin School has committed to Wofford College; and Lyons’ 5-11 senior rightside Celine Jones has committed to North Carolina-Asheville.
Also, Colleen Reilly, a 6-foot senior middle hitter from Marist, has committed to Wofford College; and Kristen Somerville, a 6-1 senior middle blocker from St. Ignatius, has committed to Holy Cross.
Mercy Academy of Louisville, Kentucky, fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, losing to nationally-ranked Sacred Heart, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-27, 15-10, but remained the top team in Prepvolleyball.com’s most recent Century Club National Rankings.
Meanwhile, Mother McAuley stayed at No. 5 after defeating Benet 25-19, 25-20 in the finals of the Autumnfest tournament at Glenbard East and taking down Lyons in straight sets last week.
Benet remained at No. 13, St. Francis climbed seven spots to No. 50, and Sandburg entered the rankings at No. 98 after spending some time as a bubble team.
Lyons and Marist were among 10 teams that dropped out of the top 100, while Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, De La Salle, Glenbard West, Hersey, Hinsdale Central, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way North, St. Charles East and St. Charles North were on the bubble.