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Illinois-bound setter Alexis Viliunas was among five players from Illinois nominated for’s “National Player of the Year” award. recently named its “National Player of the Year.” Fifty-one seniors were finalists for the award, which recognizes a player who had a massive impact on her high school team, was the best on her team at her position and one of the top players in her state.

Five players from Illinois were among the 51 finalists, including Edwardsville’s Sam Epenesa, Marian Central’s Abby Gilleland, Benet’s Meghan Haggerty, St. Charles East’s Meghan Niski and Alexis Viliunas from Lyons.

Epenesa, a 6-foot outside hitter headed to Purdue, led the 34-6 Tigers to the Class 4A supersectional with 346 kills, 192 digs, 66 aces and 63 blocks. She was a repeat first team all-state pick by the Champaign News-Gazette and All-Metro Player of the Year by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Ohio University recruit Gilleland led Marian Central to the Class 3A final in 2011. An all-area Sun-Times choice, she recorded 816 assists, 185 digs, 78 blocks and 35 aces for the Hurricanes. She also was MVP of the 17 Open tournament when Sky High won AAU Nationals last summer.

The Wisconsin-bound Haggerty led Redwings to the Class 4A state title, the school’s first although they had come close each of the previous three years. A Sun-Times all-area selection, Haggerty finished the year with 259 kills, 80 blocks and 26 aces.

A four-year starter and first team all-area choice by the Sun-Times who is signed with James Madison, Niski led the 35-7 Saints to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament with 418 kills, 207 digs, 29 aces and 48 blocks.

The Sun-Times Player of the Year, Viliunas led Lyons to a state title in 2010 and the Class 4A supersectional in 2011. She had 644 assists, 320 kills, 300 digs, 54 aces and 43 blocks and was named Illinois’ Gatorade Player of the Year.

*** also recently named its “Frosh 59,” the top 59 freshmen in the country. Only two players from Illinois cracked the top 59, although eight others including a few Chicago area selections were name honorable mention.

The two Illinois players to make the “Frosh 59” were Courtney Pence, a 5-foot-8 outside hitter from Springfield, and 5-11 outside hitter Iman McGary of Keith Country Day School in Rockford.

Pence was a do-it-all player for the 21-11 Senators in 2011. She led Springfield with 391 kills, 294 digs and 34 aces. A first-team all-conference selection, McGary played just 52 games in 2011, but still compiled 210 kills, 100 digs and 58 aces.

Among those listed as “honorable mention” were St. Francis 6-1 middle Mary Boken, Lyons 5-10 outside hitter Hannah Juley, Stagg’s 5-11 middle blocker Lexi Mantas, 5-11 outside Carly Nolan of Crystal Lake South, defensive specialist Toni Saracco of Lyons and 6-2 outside Julia Saunders of Nazareth.


Sports Performance’s annual President’s Day tournament is this weekend, February 18-20, and features 272 teams playing at three sites including the Great Lakes Center, Schaumburg Convention Center and Lake County Expo Center.

For schedule information, go to:


The Mid-Suburban League introduced its all-conference girls basketball team last Wednesday at halftime of the championship game between Fremd and Rolling Meadows. Not surprisingly, the two teams dominated the selections.

Named to the all-conference team from West Division winner Fremd were freshman guard Haley Gorecki, junior guard Ashley McConnell and senior guard Jessi Wiedemann. Representing Rolling Meadows were sophomores Alexis Glasgow, Jackie Kemph and Jenny Vliet, and senior Ann Marie Lynch.

McConnell and Kemph were named their respective division’s player of the year.

Also named to the all-conference team were senior Nicole Collins (Barrington), junior Bailey North (Buffalo Grove), senior Natalie Kutrumanes (Conant), junior Diamond Boyd (Elk Grove), junior Destinee Young (Hoffman Estates), junior Nia Pappas (Palatine) and senior Katelyn Mayer (Palatine).

Also, senior Maura Benson (Prospect), freshman Taylor Will (Prospect), junior Amanda Kelly (Schaumburg), senior Alyssa Saklak (Schaumburg), freshman Deanna Kuzmanic (Wheeling) and senior Kellie Kuzmanic (Wheeling).

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