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updated: 9/1/2011 11:51 PM

Scouting Lake County girls volleyball

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By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent

Antioch

Coach: Glen Heitman

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Returning players: Sr. MB/OH Brianna Grant, Sr. MB Jessica Ploss

Newcomers: Fr. S Marissa Grant

Outlook: Glen Heitman enters his fifth season and is coming off a sectional appearance a year ago. His Sequoits won 16 games and graduated veteran setter Savana Bailey. However, this year's club will with have a pair of Grants on it. Brianna Grant has verbally committed to Texas Tech and may get her sets from a freshman setter named Marissa Grant. Jessica Ploss returns at middle hitter. Some of the young players in Heitman's lineup might be Sam Falco, Elena Kelsh and Abby McIlhany. "It's a young team," Heitman said. "We will make our share of mistakes. But we should get stronger as the season progresses. As with all teams if we can serve receive we will be able to run an efficient offense and be competitive. Defensively we will be a scrappy team."

Carmel

Coach: David Pazely

Returning players: Sr. MB Taylor Pippen, Sr. S/RS Megan Mowery, Sr. OH Jessie Wayland, Sr. OH Janelle Dewald

Newcomers: Jr. OH Caitlin Barry, Jr. L Maura Zawaski, So. MB Elizabeth Rengers, So. OH Lauren Fournier

Outlook: There is a new coach in town. And it appears David Pazeley will be a busy fellow. He's not only head girls volleyball coach but also sophomore boys volleyball coach, Frisbee club moderator and finally math teacher. The Carmel graduate inherited a varsity club with talent. Southern Illinois-recruit Taylor Pippen is an explosive player. She will be teamed up with tested seniors Jesse Wayland and versatile Megan Mowery. "Our senior leaders will be the key to our success,'' Pazeley said. "And we know they will live up to those expectations." Junior hitter Caitlin Berry has been leading the Corsairs in kills early in the season. Other players to watch include Janelle Dewald, Maura Zawaski and Eli Rengers.

@Biz Ledger Coffee breakout box:Grant

Coach: Sue Thompson

Returning players: Scottley Sandnes, Caitlin Wedge, Gianna Gigliotti

Newcomers: Taylor Rossi, Jamie Reiser, Brooke Buckley, Mallory Gizowski

Outlook: Of course this season started on a downer. Grant, coming off a 14-win season, lost right side hitter Madison DePersio to an ACL injury. Coach Sue Thompson, in her 15th season, knows she has a young and talented team. Setting will be in the hands of new varsity players Taylor Rossi and Jamie Reiser. Those setters will look to junior hitters Brooke Buckley and Mallory Gizowski. "Consistency among the hitters is our biggest focus for the season," Thompson said. Also looking to hit the ball this fall are Bethani Jacobsen, Lindsay Pendley and Beka Couch. "Our goal is to be in the hunt for the division crown," Thompson said. "Everyone knowing that consistency at each position is crucial for us to achieve this title." Defense will be playd by the likes of Scottley Sandnes, Gianna Gigliottii and Caitlin Wedge.

Grayslake Central

Coach: Jason Janczak

Returning players: Sr. MB Klaudia Basiarak, So. OH Gabi Casper, Jr. L Marina Treato, Sr. OH Beth Arnold

Newcomers: So. S Meghan Brewster, So. MB Alexandria Dahlstrom

Outlook: The Rams checked in with 26 wins a year ago, and that special player, Klaudia Basierak, is back for her senior campaign. "We've had a good summer in the gym working to increase the speed of our offense and strengthen our serve receive and defense," coach Jason Janczak said. Graduation did hit the Rams hard but promising Gabi Casper is back for her sophomore season at outside hitter. Beth Arnold is another outside hitter. Basierak hopes to make it three years as an all-conference player. The libero should be Marina Treato. "We are looking to our seniors to set the tone and those younger players to rise to the occasion," Janczak said. A few youngsters to watch are Meghan Brewster and Alexandria Dahlstrom.

Grayslake North

Coach: Nikki Kirchway

Returning players: Sr. MB Katie McGrath, Sr. L Kayla Huck, Sr. MB/OH Jenni Babula, Jr. OH Kelsey Klausner, Jr. OH Joanna Guhl

Newcomers: Jr. S Lisa Lowery, So. MB Alaina Geissberger

Outlook: A year ago, the Knights won their first regional match and look to build on that this fall. Bringing back five players helps coach Nikki Kirchway feel good about her club's chances. "Our team has the much needed experience and leadership to be competitive in our conference," Kirchway said. "All aspects of our game have improved from last year." That key senior class includes the likes of Katie McGrath, Kayla Huck and Jenni Babula. Juniors Kelsey Klausner and Joanna Guhl are also expected to help. "Our goal for this season is to play every point competitively and push ourselves to play fearlessly," Kirchway said.

Lake Zurich

Coach: Matt Aiello

Returning players: Sr. OH Amanda Orchard, Sr. OH Natalie Gora, Jr. MB Layne Self, Sr. MB Dori Darras and Sr. L Ali Summers

Newcomers: So. RS/S Kristen Walding, Sr. OH/MB Cathryne Spear, So. OH Ashley Dina, So. OH Kiley McPeek, Brianna Wold, Jr. OH Nicole Morrissey

Outlook: Do you think the Bears have some high expectations this fall? Matt Aiello's club returns not only Pittsburgh-recruit Amanda Orchard but six starters from a club that won 26 games and reached a sectional final. Orchard will get help from the likes of Natalie Gora, Layne Self, Dori Darras and Ali Summers. That's three strong hitters in Gora, Self and Dorras, plus one of the area's best liberos in Summers. "We're excited to get started," Aiello said. "And are looking to get better every day and be ready for the playoffs. We added a fourth tournament this year and strengthened the schedule even more so that we will be ready." This is the roster that keeps on going. Kristen Walding is a six foot setter.

Cathryne Spear is an experienced middle. Ashley Dina, Kiley McPeek, Brianna Wold and Carmel-transfer Nicole Morrisey will also get some time on the court. "We are a very experienced group with a lot of options offensively and defensively," Aiello said. "The returning players had great off seasons, with the weight room being a major focus for them."

Lakes

Coach: Molly May

Returning players: Sr. Rachel Sieracke, Sr. MB Megan Merges, Jr. RS Sarah Horner, Jr. RS Alex Sivola

Newcomers: Jr. OH Emily Aigner, Jr. OH Shannon Grant, Jr. S Stephanie Reed, So. RS/S Haley Halberg

Outlook: The Eagles won 14 matches in coach Molly May's first season and expectations are higher this year. "The girls trained hard all summer and were successful in the area summer league," May said. "We are expecting our team to finish at the top of the conference and to compete well in to the post-season." Seniors Rachel Sieracke and Megan Merges return. Also look for juniors Sarah Horner and Alex Silvola to contribute. Some of the new players to watch are Emily Aigner, Shannon Grant, Stephanie Reed and sophomore Haley Halberg.

Libertyville

Coach: Greg Loika

Returning players: Jr. S Cindy Zhou, Jr. L Kristen Webb, Sr. Taylor Zant, Sr. MB Kerry Risley, Sr. OH Katie Waehner, Sr. MB Nicole Kruckman

Newcomers: Julie Smagatz, Rhiannon Prentiss, Ali Gattone, Kelly Cypher, Dana Kym, Kayla Silverman

Outlook: It's safe to say the Wildcats had a marvelous season a year ago. Libertyville won 35 matches last fall, including 27 wins in a row, but did graduate star outside hitter Catie Steffen (Rhode Island) and powerful middle Paige Hopper. "We return five starters and with added junior talent hope to put together another solid campaign," said coach Greg Loika. "We really think we could compete again for the NSC, and we will see where we stand early with tough tests against Hersey, New Trier." The slugging hitters may have departed but these Wildcats have a dynamic setter in Cindy Zhou and a terrific libero in Kristen Webb. Zhou looks like she will set in the Big 10 (Michigan) in two seasons.

"I would think they will be on people's lists of top honors come the end of the season," Loika said. There are a collection of 6-footers who would like to receive sets this year. This group includes Taylor Zant, Kerry Risley, Katie Waehner and Nicole Kruckman. Eileen Knauff will also get a look. State-qualifying long jumper Julie Smagatz will give volleyball a try this fall. Also out for volleyball are Rhiannon Prentiss, Ali Gattone, Kelly Cypher, Dana Kym and Kayla Silverman.

Mundelein

Coach: George Dressen Jr.

Returning players: Sr. OH Brittany Busscher, Sr. S/RS Karen Chin, Sr. MB Karolina Sierzputowska, Sr. RS Ericka Navarrete

Newcomers: So. S/RS Madi Wilcox, Jr. MB Ashley Dolin, Jr. OH/MB Courtney Perreault

Outlook: Coach George Dressen Jr.'s team will run a 6-2 offense this fall. That's because he has two gifted setters in senior Karen Chin and sophomore Madi Wilcox. The Mustangs won 16 games last season and hope to be competitive this fall. Wilcox could be one of the area's top sophomores. "She's always been a setter," Dressen said. "But we need her hit right side." There is a potent hitter for these setters to get the ball to. Brittany Busscher is back for another year of hitting. Ashley Dolin is still a junior but has plenty of experience.

Round Lake

Coach: Amanda Allen

Returning players: Sr. Nicole Burke, Sr. Bianca Duna, Sr. Clarissa Trujillo, Sr. Sara Plasencia, Sr. Jackie Salgado, Sr. Cathy Gonzales.

Newcomers: So. Izzy Rodriguez, So. Cristyn Lehocky, Fr. Ashley Wegner, Jr. Kailey Parlogean, Jr. Alyssa Eng, Jr. Dominique Gonzales, Jr. Monse Marquez, Jr. Morgin Evins, Jr. Kiersten Perez

Outlook: The Panthers reached double figures in wins last year with 13. Head coach Amanda Allen is hoping to see more improvement. "We will continue to focus on defense to help us find our success," Allen said. "We will rely on senior leadership and players stepping into new roles." That senior class will get help from Nicole Burke, Bianca Duna, Clarissa Trujillo, Sara Plasencia, Jackie Salgado and Cathy Gonzales. Allen wasn't shy in reaching down for young players. Joining the club this year are sophomores Izzy Rodriguez and Cristyn Lehocky. Freshman Ashley Wegner has also made the club. She also has a large junior class to work with as well. This group includes Kailey Parlogean, Alyssa Eng, Dominique Gonzales, Monse Marquez, Morgin Evins and Kiersten Perez.

Stevenson

Coach: Tim Crow

Returning players: Rachel Baader, Michelle Schroeder, Mckenzie Kurth

Newcomers: Jenna Radtke, Liza Pflugradt, Anne Geocaris, Emily Wings, Jamie Baranowski, Alexa Gold, Hannah Kay, Khaila Donaldson, Christina Pritchett, Kara Maleski.

Outlook: The Patriots peaked late last year and won a sectional crown. They just seem to reload at Stevenson. Tim Crow is in his 10th season as head coach. "We are looking to compete with the other extremely talented teams in our conference,'' Crow said. He lists Lake Zurich, Libertyville and Lake Forest. with its slugger Mary Striedl, as the teams to watch. The Pats have their own major player in junior Rachel Baader.

The senior class has experience from that 31-game winner from last year. Michelle Schroeder and Mckenzie Kurth return to help. Crow is pleased with the height has. Those tall girls go by the names of Jenna Radtke (6-1), Liza Pflugradt (6-0) and Anne Geocaris (5-10). "We have more length as a team with four girls who are six feet or taller," Crow said. Megan Jennings is another 6-footer. Also helping the Pats this fall are Emily Wings, Jamie Baranowski, Alexa Gold, Hannah Kay, Khaila Donaldson, Christina Pritchett and Kara Maleski.

Wauconda

Coach: Bob Taterka

Returning players: Jr. Megan Tallman, Sr. Erinn Hellweg, Sr. Ali Morrison, Sr. Rebecca Thiltgen, Sr. Ava Wilhelm, Sr. Emily Holub, Sr. Rebecca Ledenbach

Newcomers: Jordan Draegert, Susan Karhoff

Outlook: This team won 24 games a year and also brings back "The Hammer." It's the final campaign of Erinn "The Hammer" Hellweg. "She is looking to leave her mark in the Bulldog all-time career offensive record book,'' said coach Bob Taterka. Of course it's valuable to have a good setter to get the Hammer the ball. And the Bulldogs have a very good setter. Junior Megan Tallman has already verbally committed to Indiana University. Yes, the Bulldogs will be in the hunt for a Prairie Division crown. "Prairie Division volleyball gets better and better every year," Taterka said. "And the NSC Lake Division is always loaded with talent. We expect a dogfight every night, and with a commitment to defense and serve-receive, we can compete with any opponent."

Wauconda's senior class gets help from Ali Morrison, Becca Thiltgen, Becca Ledenbach and Ava Wilhelm. Other players to watch are Emily Holub, Jordan Draegert and Susan Karhoff. "We have a solid core of returning players that have set the bar high," Taterka said. "Their experience and determination are invaluable to us."

Warren

Coach: Julie Filippo

Returning players: Libby Perrone, Paige Jesperson, Kendall Farmer, Jaime Dickenson, Jessica Kaplan and Diana Ropel

Newcomers: Allie Goad, Danielle Buschick, Savannah Slater, Lisiann Rodriguez, Stephanie Karlovicks and Rachael Ziegler.

Outlook: Libby Perone has been an all-conference player for two years in a row. Now, she'll take a different role. "She will wear a new cap this season," coach Julie Filippo. "Libby will take on the role of setter this season. She is excited to be in this leadership position." Perone does have some good hitters to set the ball to.

That group includes Kendall Farmer, Jaime Dickenson and Paige Jesperson. The middle looks safe with Jessica Kaplan and Diana Ropel in control. There is a sophomore outside hitter in Allie Goad. She's the younger sister of former Warren setter Lindsay Goad. "Look for excitement from our youngsters," Filippo said. "They are little Energizer bunnies -- they keep going." Other Blue Devils to watch are Danielle Buschick, Savannah Slater, Lisiann Rodriguez, Stephanie Karlovicks and Rachael Ziegler.

Vernon Hills

Coach: Abbie Gutzmer

Returning players: Shannon Nugent, Megan Meline, Jenn Claussen, Julie Pecht, Rachel Lira, Brianna Bachmann

Newcomers: Alison Peacock, Erin Munoz, Hannah Difrancesca-Swanson, Taylor Krue, Sarah Lehman, Jasmine Tamalunas

Outlook: Back from a 20-win team is Shannon Nugent. And this junior should lead Vernon Hills' offense this fall. The Cougars also have weapons in the athletic Megan Meline and Jen Claussen. "We should be pretty strong offensively," said coach Abbie Gutzmer. Of course teams do have to play defense in this game, as well, and the Cougars have some veteran players in the back row. Julie Pecht and Christie Currie should hold their own. "All of our returning players had seen significant playing time last year," Gutzmer said. "So we expect to see a ton of improvement in our team game." The Cougars have some returning help in the middle from Rachel Lira and Brianna Bachmann. Also helping out will be Alison Peacock, Erin Munoz, Hannah Difrancesca-Swanson, Taylor Krue, Sarah Lehman and Jasmine Tamalunas.

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