By Phil Brozynski
The awards keep pouring in for Chicago-area volleyball players.
Kelly Murphy of Joliet Catholic, the Gatorade 2007 National Player of the Year, was named a third team PrepVolleyball.com Academic All-American, and Annie Luhrsen of Wheaton Warrenville South was named a fourth team Academic All-American.
Murphy, who is headed to Florida next fall, maintains a 4.52 weighted grade point average while pursuing a rigorous curriculum. She is a member of both the Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta.
Luhrsen, a UConn recruit, has a 5.3 grade point average (on a 5.0 scale) and is a four-year DuPage Valley Academic All-Conference selection. A four-year starter, Luhrsen led the Tigers in both assists and aces last fall.
Three area players were named to the PrepVolleyball.com 2007 Molten Improvement Team. The team recognizes players who have made substantial strides on the court during their high school careers.
Named to the Molten Improvement First Team was senior Briana Fleener of Joliet Catholic. Breener was cut from Joliet Catholic as a junior but rededicated herself to the sport. She became big blocking middle and posted 119 blocks last fall, earning a scholarship to Division I East Carolina University.
Junior Ariana Mankus of Benet Academy was named to the second team following an incredible junior year. After a non-descript sophomore campaign, Mankus led the Redwings in kills, was second in digs and developed one of the best jump serves in the area. She was named MVP at Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Third-team selection junior Emily McGee of Naperville Central was a big factor in the Redhawks run to a Class 4A title with 429 kills, 52 blocks and 319 digs. McGee will be pivotal to Centrals title defense in 2008.
There was also some news on the boys side this week. Kyle Gramit, a 2005 graduate of Naperville North High School and a junior at George Mason, was named Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Tait Division Player of the Week on January 30 after wracking up 65 kills in three matches including 30 in a four-game win over Loyola (Ill.).
Gramits teammates at George Mason include sophomore Ryan Kwiatkowski of Naperville (Neuqua Valley), sophomore Ben Nichols of Northbrook (Glenbrook North) and freshman Dan Marushka of Glenview (Glenbrook South).