Young Mighty Macs storm to pair of big wins

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Here’s a familiar site. Benet celebrates another tournament title, this time at the Wheaton Classic on Saturday.

Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Top 10 Girls Volleyball Teams

(Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)

1. Mother McAuley 6-0 (2)

Maybe the Mighty Macs’ biggest week in a long time? First, Mother McAuley gained South Side bragging rights by defeating Marist 25-20, 25-16 behind Kelsey Clark’s seven kills, Ryann DeJarld’s five kills and 18 assists, four kills and five digs by junior setter Courtney Joyce. Then, 24 hours later, McAuley outlasted St. Francis 25-19, 19-25, 28-26 behind 11 kills from Clark and 25 assists and five kills from Joyce. It doesn’t get any easier this week with the Rich East tournament on tap Friday and Saturday.

2. Benet 14-0 (3)

Who are these girls? Nicki Barnes? Cara Mattaliano? Brittany Kmieciak? Abby Willett? They may have played on their club’s No. 2 team, but they are playing like No. 1 this fall. All they did Saturday was beat Naperville Central, Sandburg and Marist to win the Wheaton Classic. Setter Hannah Kaminsky earned much-deserved MVP honors, joined on the all-tournament team by Mattaliano and libero Sheila Doyle, who owns some of the best hands in the state. Brittany Pavich and sophomore Rachael Fara are playing big in the middle as well.

3. Marist 6-3 (1)

The RedHawks had no answers for Benet’s fast-paced offense in the finals of the Wheaton Classic, but coach Natalie Holder is seeing some positive signs from her charges. Mallory Salis had a solid game against Benet with seven kills, two blocks and an ace, and lefty Elyse Panick was dynamite from the service line. However, too many unforced errors were Marist’s undoing. Nevertheless, the RedHawks did gain some revenge for an earlier loss against Hinsdale South with a 25-15, 25-23 victory in the semifinals.

4. St. Francis 11-2 (4)

The Spartans’ loss at Mother McAuley was a barnburner, as St. Francis took the Macs to the limit before falling 28-26 in Game Three. Still, narrow losses to Champaign centennial at Effingham and at Mother McAuley proved that the Spartans aren’t that far from hoisting another state championship trophy. They will get another shot at some of the state’s best this weekend at Rich East. Next up: a couple of tune-ups with trips to Aurora Central Catholic on Monday and Chicago Christian on Wednesday before the Rich East tournament over the weekend.

5. Glenbard West 18-0 (6)

After taking care of Antioch 25-21, 25-16 on Monday behind Caleigh Ryan’s 24 assists and six kills from Meg DeMarr, the Hilltoppers ran into very little interference at their own tournament this weekend, defeating Fremd 25-17, 25-22 in the title match. Now can they get over the West Suburban Conference hump Tuesday when they visit Lyons? But first, they must not take Palatine and 6-3 Taylor Fricano lightly on Monday. Palatine has beaten Fremd twice already this season.

6. West Aurora 14-1 (7)

Six-foot-2 senior setter Lauren Carlini was named the No. 1 college recruit in the nation by last week. “She does not have a single weakness on the court and her overall skill level is the highest I have seen in a junior player since (four-time Olympian) Logan Tom in 1998,” Sports Performance director Rick Butler said. “Not only is she an outstanding setter, but she is also a great point scorer as both an attacker and a blocker and her defensive and serving skills are excellent.” Carlini led West Aurora to an easy win over Wheaton North last week with eight kills, 10 assists and two aces.

7. New Trier 14-0 (9)

The Trevians barely broke a sweat registering a pair of Central Suburban League wins last week over Waukegan and Glenbrook South to remain unbeaten through 14 matches. Taylor Tashima had eight kills and 14 assists in the win over Glenbrook South, while Abby Boyd added five kills. New Trier also got more good news this week with the release of the state sectional assignments – 11 Chicago public schools, Trinity and perhaps Loyola are all that stand between New Trier and the Niles West supersectional.

8. Joliet Catholic 9-1 (NR)

Chris Scheibe finds a way. The Angels have been on cruise control since losing to Mother McAuley 25-23, 29-27 earlier this season. Last week, Joliet Catholic recorded its ninth straight win with a 25-12, 25-13 victory over Bolingbrook. Julia Shemaitis had 19 service points, including seven aces. Morgan Reardon, one of the best hitters in the state, added 11 kills and two blocks and Mary Murphy had three kills and a pair of blocks. Mallory Mangun, Dana Nowaczyk and Murphy combined for 16 assists, and Sarah Adler had 10 digs.

9. Stevenson 12-1 (10)

A big week for the Patriots with wins over Hersey and Palatine, two teams that Stevenson could see at the Fremd sectional later this season. Kaalia Donaldson had seven kills and nine digs and Anne Geocaris added 13 assists in the win over the Huskies. Jenna Radtke led Stevenson with five kills and four aces in the win over Palatine. Other potential pitfalls at Fremd include Barrington and Libertyville. Next up? A key North Suburban Conference showdown with Libertyville on Wednesday.

10. Hinsdale South 11-3 (NR)

Victories over Libertyville (29-31, 25-20, 25-20) and Sandburg (25-19, 12-25, 26-24) sandwiched around a loss to Marist Saturday at the Wheaton Classic proved that these Hornets have teeth. Senior outside Jessica Brezwyn, who almost single-handedly ousted Benet from the state tournament in the sectional two years ago, rallied the Hornets from a big deficit in Game Two of their Wheaton semifinal against Marist, but it was not enough. Still, in Brezwyn’s own words, there is a lot of season left for her and teammates Rachel Kent, Jackie Adelphia and Sharon Anderson.

Dropping out: Naperville Central, Sandburg.

Others: Sandburg, Libertyville, Naperville Central, Lincoln-Way East, Marian Catholic, Providence, Lincoln-Way Central, St. Ignatius, Prairie Ridge, Naperville North, Nazareth, Lockport, Chicago Christian, Palatine, Hersey, Fremd, Crystal Lake South, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, Immaculate Conception, Stagg, Montini, Lemont, Glenbard South, West Chicago, Lakes.

Quote of the Week:

“I think we went into the match thinking we beat them before and maybe we don’t have to come out and play as hard. Obviously, it’s a good lesson for us not to just come out and play average. They’re a good team. We got to come out ready to play. We were on our heels. But it’s not like we’re supposed to hang our heads, because there’s so much for us to come.” – Hinsdale South’s Jessica Brezwyn after the Hornets’ loss to Marist at the Wheaton Classic.

Quote II:

“When we started this tournament, I said Stagg is over. This is really our test. There were some shining moments. We brought a couple of sophomores up to put into the mix, including No. 20 (Julia Borschel), who literally came up after the Stagg match. They (Benet) attacked her with the serve a little. I thought serve receive in general let us down a little bit and I thought we got a little tired. But Julia was swinging really well.” – Sandburg coach David Vales after his team’s 25-18, 24-26, 25-17 loss to Benet in the semifinals of the Wheaton Classic.

Quote III:

“We got what we wanted several times. They were committing to other players and we got some one-on-ones and we just could not put the ball away. That’s something we’re working on a lot in practice. Sometimes it’s there, and other times it’s not there. We also missed some serves. I think we had nine. But overall, we played pretty well. The big thing for us is just to come out and play our game and make sure emotionally we’re ready. There’s more work to do, there’s more good teams to see. This is our first tournament and we’ll see how we respond.” – Libertyville coach Greg Loika after his team’s 29-31, 25-20, 25-20 loss to Hinsdale South in the Wheaton Classic quarterfinals. The Wildcats responded by defeating Naperville Central 25-18, 21-25, 25-23 to finish third.

Quote IV:“All the hills we climb and all the drills we run were worth it.” – Benet’s Nicky Barnes, after the Redwings defeated Marist in a match that began less than 20 minutes after a marathon three-set win over Sandburg at Saturday’s Wheaton Classic.

Wheaton Classic All-Tournament Team: Sharon Anderson (Hinsdale South), Alysia Baznik (Naperville Central), Caitlin Brauneis (Prairie Ridge), Stephanie Budlong (Wheaton Warrenville South), Sheila Doyle (Benet), Brianna Flagg (Rosary), Dakota Hampton (Sandburg), Emily Kwak (Naperville North), Megan Litoborski (Lemont), Kelly Marcinek (Marist), Cara Mattaliano (Benet), Rachel Minarick (Waubonsie Valley), Mallory Salis (Marist), Kirsten Zemke (Downers Grove South), MVP Hannah Kaminsky (Benet).

Milestone: Libertyville coach Greg Loika goes for career win No. 100 Wednesday against Stevenson.

For the Cure: Naperville Central visits Wheaton Warrenville South on Monday, October 1 in a “Volley for the Cure” event. This has become one of the biggest cancer fundraisers of its kind, if not the biggest, in the state. The two teams raised more than $52,000 in 2011.

Biased about Benedictine:Congratulations to coach Jen Wildes and the Benedictine University women’s volleyball team, which improved to 11-0 on the season with victories over North Central and Lake Forest on Saturday.

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