Barrington did not have to look far to find its next girls volleyball coach.
Rob Ridenour, who was named the boys volleyball coach prior to the 2007 season, will handle both jobs in 2011-2012, the school recently announced.
Ridenour replaces Chris Bronke, who stepped down in November after the Fillies’ season ended with a loss to Cary-Grove in the regional finals to spend more time with his family and to focus on teaching.
Ridenour served as Bronke’s assistant for the past few seasons, so the transition should be a smooth one.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach in a program with a fantastic group of girls,” Ridenour said. “Chris left the program in great shape with girls that have a passion to succeed and have a high level of technical skill.
“I think we are going to have a lot of fun this fall putting the pieces in place,” Ridenour said.
Ridenour will have several pieces with which to work when the season opens in August. The Fillies, who rebounded from a slow start to win 20 matches, return two seniors and three juniors who played extensively last season.
Leading the way will be 5-10 junior middle Julia Thompson, an all-Mid-Suburban League selection in 2010, and all-conference libero Amanda Dee. Sophomore Emily Casaletto will join Dee in the back row, while junior Laura Schectman will join Thompson up front.
A big key for Barrington will be the return to form of 6-1 junior outside hitter Peyton Lang, who was set back by injury during the club season but has been a fixture at Barrington’s summer volleyball camp.
“Peyton has a heavy arm,” Ridenour said.
Barrington, a powerhouse under Karen Traub in the early 2000s, opens the 2011 season August 23 at Stevenson.
Ridenour was not the only coach making news this off-season. Chad Rakers will succeed his dad Fred at Breese Mater Dei, which won last year’s Class 3A state championship in a thriller over two-time defending champion Joliet Catholic.
Fred Rakers retired with 1,046 wins, second in Illinois history to St. Francis’ Peg Kopec. The elder Rakers won six state titles in 35 seasons and made 20 trips to the state tournament.
Chad Rakers served as an assistant coach at Mater Dei for the past four years and is a graduate of the Breese private school.
Mater Dei lost half of its rotation and most of its star power to graduation, but does return 5-10 senior Brooke Schulte, the team’s best player in 2010.
A pair of downstate teams who could be favored to win their respective classes in 2011 – 4A Edwardsville and 2A Decatur St. Teresa – squared off in the Carlinville tournament last Saturday and split two games. St. Teresa won 19-14 and lost 20-18.
Decatur St. Teresa finished 37-3 and in fourth place in 2010 behind 5-9 senior-to-be Alexis Clemons and 5-8 sophomore-to-be Marie Less. Edwardsville welcomes back Sam Epenesa and a veteran supporting cast from a 32-9 team that finished third a year ago.