Phil Brozynski: girls volleyball notes

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The folks down in Bloomington are at it again.

The sites for the 2014 IHSA Girls Class 4A State Volleyball Tournament were finally releasedon Monday, and it appears the good folks on McGraw Drive have taken it upon themselves to eliminate the so-called “private problem.”

Of course, in the process, they have thrown such teams as Glenbard West (and South), Geneva, Downers North (and South), St. Charles East (and North), any direction in Plainfield and probably Yorkville, too, to the wolves.

The IHSA’s new sectional alignment has the winner of the Bartlett Sectional (an hour as the crow flies from one of its own regional sites) squaring off at Hinsdale Central (a nifty 40 minutes from Bartlett, if there is absolutely no one else on the road) against…Mother McAuley.

McAuley hosts a sectional site opposite the Bartlett sectional, and while the assignments to the various regionals had not been announced by late Monday, it’s likely that McAuley will be assigned to the Argo regional feeding into the McAuley sectional.

Meanwhile, can you hear the sighs of relief going up from Lincoln-Way land? Sandburg? Marist? Most of the southern suburbs? Free at last, free at last.

Free from the shadow of McAuley, they might actually have a shot at getting downstate this fall from the T.F. South Sectional.

Wait a minute. Is there something else at play here?

Absolutely.

By diverting the Benet-dominated sectional now playing at Bartlett (won five times in the last six years by the Redwings), there is a chance that a team like Normal, Normal West or Bloomington might actually break through to the Class 4A semifinals. At least that has to be the hope.

Benet has been shipped through the Peoria and Normal area supersectionals each year save one since 2008. During that time, they have beaten Edwardsville three times and Normal Community once. Their only misstep was an upset by Quincy in 2009. In 2010, Hinsdale South lost to Edwardsville.

So by potentially pitting Benet and McAuley head-to-head in the sectional at Hinsdale Central, the IHSA eliminates one of the private schools that have dominated the state tournament in recent years (Benet won it all in 2011 and 2012, McAuley in 2013) and gives one of their local schools (Normal, Bloomington) an actual shot and getting to Redbird Arena.

That’s not to say a Lincoln-Way North or a Sandburg or a Marist couldn’t win the super at Normal West, but who would you rather face?

And there is an addendum to all this. If the so-called “success factor” is implemented in 2015-2016, where do you think St. Francis will go? Why, the

Bartlett sectional, of course. Good luck ever getting out of there, Geneva.

Wait, there’s more conspiracy fans.

In Class 3A this year, the IHSA likely will assign St. Francis to the Rosary regional where it should have a free and easy path to Bloomington via the Belvidere supersectional. Chicago Christian has its own regional in the Illiana Christian sectional, and Joliet Catholic and Providence are likely headed to the Celtics’ regional.

Assuming the success factor gets kicked in next year. St. Francis is surely gone to 4A. But Chicago Christian has a chance to reach its second straight supersectional this fall, and what does that mean for 2015? Could the Knights, who won a 2A title not too long ago, be booted up to 4A as well?

What about Providence and Joliet Catholic? If they remain in their own little quadrant of the bracket, there is a good chance that one or both could achieve sufficient success to join the 4A party in a few years. One first, and then with that school gone, the other?

Before you know it, the “private problem” is solved. Most of the private schools will be in 4A, and they will all likely be lumped in the same supersectional with McAuley and Benet. There may be a few that come and go as their “success” becomes less frequent, but at least they will be out of the way for a good long while.

***

Pre-season No. 3 Mother McAuley slipped to No. 7 in the most recent Century Club rankings of the top 100 high school teams in the country, according to John Tawa of Prepvolleyball.com.

Mercy Academy (Louisville, Ky.), which defeated McAuley in three sets at the recent Louisville Invitational Volleyball Tournament, is the current No. 1 team, followed byArchbishop Mitty (San Jose, California) and Lakewood (California).
Assumption (Louisville, Ky.), which will play at St. Francis on Oct. 2, is No. 14, followed by the Spartans at No. 15.

Previously unranked Lyons Township checks in at No. 62, followed by No. 63 Breese Mater Dei, No. 78 Benet and No. 85 Geneva, which is likely to drop out of the rankings after two losses last weekend at the Glenbard West Tournament.

Pre-season No. 84 Glenbard West and pre-season No. 85 Normal Community dropped out of the rankings, while Bloomington and Crystal Lake Central are on the bubble.

***

The Minooka and Plainfield Central volleyball teams are conducting a fundraiser to benefit Shorewood H.U.G.S. as part of their match Thursday.

The goal of the “Hits for H.U.G.S.” fundraiser is to raise enough money to grant 10 wishes, including a special wish for a Minooka father who lost his wife to cancer and is struggling with daycare costs for his young son.

Members of the volleyball programs are soliciting donations for every point each varsity team scores during their contest Thursday at Minooka’s central campus. For example, if a team scores a total of 50 points, a donation of 50 cents per point will generate a donation of $25. Also, T-shirts will be sold at the game for $10.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Shorewood H.U.G.S. (Helping You Get Started), a local organization that supports those in need in the community.

***

Northwestern-bound middle hitter Rachael Fara of Benet was named the most valuable player at the Wheaton Classic Tournament last weekend.

Joining Fara on the all-tournament team were middle hitter Alex Basler of Libertyville, setter Rachel Burau of Wheaton Warrenville South, libero Natalie Canulli of Benet, outside hitter Lauren Fuller of Hinsdale Central, outside hitter Dana Griffin of Benet and setter Kaelan Haag of Neuqua Valley.

Also named to the team were outside hitter Elizabeth Hyland of Plainfield Central, sophomore libero Martha Konovodoff of Rosary, junior outside hitter Daley Krage of St. Charles North, setter Emily Kwak of Naperville North and opposite hitter Leah Lane of Sandburg.

Also, outside hitter Grace Larson of Downers North, libero Erica Walker of Wheaton North, middle hitter Ali Witt of Prairie Ridge and setter Lizzie Zaleski of Marist.

***

Libero Cory Griffith of Providence was named the MVP of last weekend’s Oak Lawn Invitational after amassing 40 digs in five matches while leading the Celtics (11-5) to the tournament championship.

***

Aesthetics can play a role in impressive college recruits. Just ask Libertyville’s Alex Basler, who is committed to Cornell in Ithaca, New York.
“I made my first visit last October, around this time,” she said. “I love the campus. It’s gorgeous. It’s in the middle of New York state, it’s hilly, there are trees everywhere, and everything was red and yellow and orange. It was beautiful.”

***

While most eyes will be on Rich East this weekend for see how Mother McAuley, St. Francis, Lyons and Providence fare, Downers Grove North will try to continue its impressive tournament run (third at the Wheaton Classic) at the Waubonsie Valley Warrior Blast.

Downers North should be challenged by St. Ignatius, Rosary, Trinity and Plainfield Central. Pool play begins Friday at 5 p.m. Saturday’s playoffs begin at 8:30 a.m.

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