Naperville Central’s plan includes return to Normal

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Naperville Central d. Downers Grove North 25-17, 25-16

The Highlight: No. 8 Naperville Central (1-0) used an 8-0 service run by libero Carly Wesolowski to overcome a 6-3 deficit in the second game and defeat Downers Grove North (0-2) Tuesday in Naperville. Six-foot senior middle hitter Sammy Condon had two kills and a block during the run.

The Quote: “There is definitely a sense of urgency this year. Before we started, we talked about this being the last first game of our high school careers. Both teams worked hard tonight. We came out with a bang. I think it was an awesome win. Expectations? Definitely. We’re practicing to go all the way to Normal. We’re working hard every day. That’s the plan and were sticking to it. We know we want to win, but we have to work hard first.” – Naperville Central’s Alysia Baznik.

The Quote II: “It’s experience issue. I’m coaching these girls with high expectations. But this is just match No. 2 and this is a team that’s going to have to grow. Even our seniors, relatively speaking, are still figuring this out. It’s still early. They’ll be 18-year-old seniors by the end of the season. They’re just not there yet. We’ll continue to learn and get pushed by good quality opponents.” – Downers Grove North coach Mark Wasik.

The Statistics: Five-foot-5 senior setter Abbi Williamson led Naperville Central with 15 assists, three kills and three aces. Baznik added four kills and two aces, Condon had six kills and a block (all in the second game) and 6-2 senior outside Kendall Ward added four kills. Six-foot-1 junior Katherine Mahlke led Downers Grove North with seven kills and a block, freshman Mary Helen Beacom added eight assists and an ace and Hanna Rogoz had four kills and two aces.

Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams

(Preseason ranking in parenthesis)

1.Marist 0-1 (1)

OK, everybody is allowed an “oops.” Marist’s just happened to come in their first match of the season against Hinsdale South. But the Redhawks have too much firepower and too much talent to stay down too long. A trip to Wheaton North Wednesday and a visit by Whitney Young Thursday should be just the tonic for Kelly Marcinek, Mallory Salis & Co. to get back on track. Mark Tuesday, September 11 on your calendar. That’s when McAuley pays a visit to 115th and Kedzie.

2.Mother McAuley 1-0 (2)

The Mighty Macs just got past Joliet Catholic 25-23, 29-27 in their season opener Thursday, but that should not be too surprising given the Angels’ history, Morgan Reardon’s ability and McAuley’s youth. At times, the Mighty Macs had four sophomores on the court, including Ryann DeJarld (eight kills, 11 digs), whose kill ended the match. Junior setter Courtney Joyce and 5-11 junior Gabrielle Ennis will have to carry the load until the young sophomores grow up.

3.St. Francis 0-0 (3)

Will the Spartans be able to put a difficult week behind them? The team attended the funeral of former St. Francis standout Megan Boken last week to show their support for sophomore Mary Boken, who is expected to be the team’s anchor in the middle with Michelle McLaughlin, Maddie Haggerty and Molly Haggerty handling the hitting chores from the pins. St. Francis opens the season Friday at the Early Bird tournament hosted by Conant.

4. St. Ignatius 2-0 (4)

Everybody knows about 5-11 Wake Forest recruit Sophia Dodd, UIC-bound 6-1 middle blocker Casey Harris, 6-1 Connecticut recruit Camille Evans, 5-11 outside Rachelle Lock and 6-3 sophomore Kristen Somerville. But one of the keys to the Wolfpack’s success in 2012 could be 5-8 sophomore setter Kristi May, who finished among the top freshmen around in assists, aces and dig last year. She also played up for 1st Alliance 16 Black during the club season.

5. Benet 6-0 (8)

The defending 4A champions have roared out of the gates by defeating St. Charles East then stopping West Aurora and Wisconsin-bound Lauren Carlini 28-26, 25-23 in the championship match of their own invite. Libero Sheila Doyle was named tournament MVP, but the most pleasant surprise was the play of 6-foot-3 sophomore Rachael Fara, who had three kills and three blocks in the title match. Cara Mattaliano led Benet with 45 kills in five tournament matches.

6. Sandburg 0-0 (5)

A delayed start to the season should give the Eagles plenty of time to work out the kinks, although there should not be many with eight veterans from last year’s 32-7 squad including South Florida recruit Dakota Hampton, 6-0 middle blocker Kristy Theisen, 6-0 setter/right side Paige Bendell, libero Kendall Riechman, 6-1 junior Kelly Finlay, 5-9 junior Meghan Hutchinson, 5-9 junior rightside Bridget Lebert and 5-6 sophomore setter Sami Knight. Opens Friday at Lyons.

7. Glenbard West 5-0 (6)

Lost in the hoopla over Glenbard West’s big victory over Wheaton Warrenville South in football Saturday was the Hilltoppers’ dominating performance at the Wheaton North Blue & Gold invite over the weekend behind all-tournament choices Meg Demaar and Caleigh Ryan. Glenbard West figures to have an easy week with Trinity on tap Wednesday and a visit to Glenbard East on Thursday. Circle Tuesday, September 18, when Glenbard West visits Lyons.

8. Naperville Central 0-0 (7)

The Redhawks open their season at home Tuesday against Downers Grove North, a team that defeated Naperville Central in its season opener last year in Downers Grove. Coach Brie Isaacson will be counting on veterans 5-10 setter/outside hitter Alyssa Baznik, 5-11 middle hitter Sammy Condon, 5-11 middle Nikki Connors, 6-2 outside Kendall Ward, libero Carly Wesolowski and setter Abbi Williamson to hold off West Aurora in the DuPage Valley Conference.

9. Barrington 1-1 (9)

The Fillies sputtered out of the blocks against Stevenson in their opener, but bounced back to down Mundelein behind 5-8 junior Emily Watkins. Six-foot-1 outside Lauren Shechtman is still adjusting to life away from the middle, and 5-11 juniors Christy Roney and Chase Kingwill are still finding their way. But Barrington should still be there at the end, especially if their young middles mature during the course of the season.

10. West Aurora 5-1 (NR)

2011 Sun-Times all-area selection Lauren Carlini was in usual form Saturday against Benet, leading the Blackhawks with eight kills, three blocks and nine assists in the championship match. But West Aurora also got contributions from middles Abriya Zeitz (four blocks) and Nerissa Vogt (three blocks, ace). “When we run our system and we run our plays we look good,” coach Kari Nicholson said. “We seem pretty comfortable with our offense, and that makes me feel positive that we can only get better.

Others: Joliet Catholic, Marian Catholic, Providence, Hersey, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way Central, Naperville North, Nazareth, New Trier, Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Stevenson, Crystal Lake South, Hinsdale South, Lincoln-Way Central, Prairie Ridge, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, Marian Central, Chicago Christian, Immaculate Conception, Rosary.

Quote of the week: “It’s good that we had some tight matches to see how the girls will react. There are going to be pressure situations, especially late in the season. The more that we can be in right now with championships on the line, it’s only going to help us later in the season.” – Benet coach Brad Baker.

Quote II: “We have a lot of fire if we really want it. We can push through. You just have to support each other and come together as a team. When we’re individuals, we’re not as good. But together, we can be really good.” – Waubonsie Valley setter/hitter Rachel Minarick.

All-Tournament Team I: Meg Demaar (Glenbard West), Caleigh Ryan (Glenbard West), Tarah Valdez (Glenbard South), Jane Trzaska (Glenbard South), Lexi Mantas (Stagg), Jill Conrad (Stagg), Joyce Balash( Montini), Natalie Lopez(Montini), Lauren Banbury (Kaneland), Kendra Arenkill (Wheaton North), Mary Cleary (St. Viator), Kelsey Lafin (Andrew), Kaitlynn Zickus (Oak Forest), Alaina Murphy (Buffalo Grove) and Jaelin Mankins (Romeoville).

All-Tournament Team II: Hannah Kaminsky (Benet), Shelia Doyle (Benet), Brittany Pavich (Benet), Lauren Carlini (West Aurora), Peyton McKenzie (West Aurora), Nerissa Vogt (West Aurora), Racheal Minarick (Waubonsie Valley), Noelle Linden (Waubonsie Valley), Melissa Deatsch (York), Rachel Iverson (York), Kiley Rendak (Lemont), Taylor McKeon (Neuqua Valley).

Player of the Week: Lincoln-Way Central 6-foot-3 middle hitter Amanda Dolan had 19 kills in two matches last week including 12 kills in a 19-25, 25-14, 26-24 loss to Normal. Dolan had seven kills (in nine attempts with no errors) in a win over Shepard.

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