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updated: 9/1/2011 10:01 PM

Volleyball setting up just right for Benet's Kaminsky

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Anyone could understand if Hannah Kaminsky carried a chip on her shoulder.

She is the youngest of three athletic siblings and the shortest member of a family full of 6-footers.

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She was placed on the fourth-highest club volleyball team for her age group this summer.

She didn't learn she would be Benet's starting setter until four days before the season.

Instead of fretting over the uncertainty, Kaminsky feels blessed about the company she's in.

No chip there.

"Our team has so many good players," said the Redwings junior. "Just being on the team alone is the best."

Who would set Benet's stable of Division I hitters was a prime question heading into tryouts. Kaminsky and seniors Emily Thron and Sarah Jane Pavlik all competed for the setter spot, rotating in to set Benet's top attackers.

If Benet coach Brad Baker was anxious about his setting going into the year, Kaminsky has done well to ease those concerns.

She was named to the all-tournament team at the Benet Invite, setting 29 assists in Benet's upset of No. 1 York in the championship match.

"Hannah is a very good overall player," Baker said. "Even when she has an off game she can help us in other ways. She is a good defensive player and can pass the ball."

Kaminsky and the Redwings struggled on Wednesday against York in losing their first match, but that is to be expected with a lineup full of new starters.

"Most of these kids, Hannah's never played with. The more time on the court, the better the connection will be," Baker said. "The high school season is so short. Hitters and setters spend tons of times to get that rhythm together. With the short season you have to do it at an accelerated pace."

Kaminsky's energy and leadership on the court have surpassed even Baker's expectations, when you consider she's been a varsity player all of two weeks.

Perhaps it is no coincidence Kaminsky's always played on winners.

Freshman year her team lost all of three matches, and last year Benet's sophomores lost just one match.

Then there is Kaminsky's club team. Playing with the Sports Performance 16 White this summer with Benet teammates Cara Mattaliano and Brittany Pavich, Kaminsky and Co. took third place out of 175 teams at AAU Nationals in Orlando.

"When I found out I was going to be on (Sports Performance's) fourth team, coming off playing on the first team, I was a little disappointed," Kaminsky said. "I thought, 'Maybe this is not for me.' But it turned out for the best. I wouldn't have traded it for anything. It was the best club season of our lives."

That Kaminsky would choose volleyball over basketball was no slam dunk, and it's easy to see why.

Hannah's dad, Frank, was an NAIA All-America basketball player at Lewis who has coached at Glenbard West, York and the University of St. Francis. Hannah's older brother Frank was Daily Herald All-Area co-captain for basketball last year and is now a freshman on the Wisconsin basketball team.

In junior high Hannah played volleyball and basketball and also did travel basketball and club volleyball.

As an eighth-grader Hannah watched older sister Kaylee and Benet advance to state volleyball for the first time in school history.

That settled her plans.

"I remember sitting in the stands with Cara watching our older sisters saying, 'We want this to be us,'" Kaminsky said. "It was amazing watching that 2008 team at state."

Of course that Benet team came up a win short of its ultimate goal, the school's first state championship.

Basketball title dreams were dashed last year, when Frank's top-ranked Redwings team was upset in sectionals.

"We joked before my brother's basketball season and he said, 'Hannah, if I don't make it downstate, it's up to you,'" Kaminsky related.

Benet's been back to the volleyball sectional final three straight years since 2008 but hasn't made it back to Redbird Arena.

Considering the talent running through the Redwings program lately, the disappointment is understandable.

Heck, until the Redwings get over that hump maybe the whole team will carry a collective chip on its shoulder.

"We want to be the ones in the end holding up the state championship trophy. We talk about that every day in practice," Kaminsky said. "There definitely is some unfinished business."

jwelge@dailyherald.com

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