By John Lemon
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Erienne Barry, St. Charles East
A two-time All-Area selection and four-year starter for St. Charles East, it's going to be strange when 2013 rolls around and someone else is setting the Saints. Before heading to Western Michigan for college, Barry excelled in her final year of a high school career that included helping the Saints finish third in state as a junior. This season she showed leadership to the newcomers while continuing her fine play at setter (721 assists, 38 aces). "She does a great job leading," Saints coach Jennie Kull said. "She has really come into her own. She leads the team offensively. She's a great quarterback. I think that experience really helps. She and Nicole (Woods) both have really helped the young kids."
Hannah Buck, Geneva
Buck gives up some size to some of the other top outside hitters, but that doesn't stop her from attacking the volleyball and delivering all kinds of timely kills. Led Geneva in kills (241) while also providing solid all-around play (282 digs, 34 blocks, 19 aces). "She's fearless," Geneva coach KC Johnsen said. "She demands so much from herself. She expects to get the ball and do the right thing with it. This year as a senior she has finally got comfortable in that role with that much pressure on her. When we need someone to hit against the big block we went to Hannah."
Alex Busch, St. Charles North
The North Stars found a rock in the back row this year in Busch. She entered the final week of the season with a team-best 321 digs, averaging 7.5 a game. She also was the team's best passer with an average of 2.25 on a 3.0 scale. She hit on 91 percent of her serves with 41 aces. "Alex is an amazing defensive specialist, and has really come on strong for this team," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "Our defense has never been something to brag about over the years, but this year it is and it's because of Alex. She is also our best passer. Not only that, but she is one of our best servers."
Lauren Carlini, West Aurora
There's not much more to say about Carlini, the first three-time All-Area captain. PrepVolleyball.com ranked her the No. 1 player in the nation during a senior season that saw her make all-tournament teams at Benet, the Glenbrook North Discovery Tournament and Autumnfest. Led the Blackhawks to a 30-5 regular season and a second straight DuPage Valley Conference championship. Headed to Wisconsin to set -- she finished the regular season with 282 assists and also led the team in digs (137), aces (86) and kills (316). "She dominates as a hitter, sets up our offense as a setter and has a dynamite jump serve," Blackhawks coach Kari Nicholson said. "Her dedication to her sport and her motivation to always be better really sets her apart."
Kelly Dalheim, Geneva
No team played better defense than Upstate Eight Conference River Division champion Geneva, and nobody was in the center of it more than the libero Dalheim. Had 508 digs while helping the Vikings stay in some long rallies that they normally found a way to win. Also served 70 aces. "She's one of the outstanding defensive players we've had in a long time," coach KC Johnsen said. "I knew when she was a seventh-grader she'd be a good libero. We knew she could play with anybody. With some of those big-time Division I hitters hitting against us we needed someone like Kelly (to compete)."
Ellie Dunn, Kaneland
The youngest player on the team, Dunn made a big impact in the regular season with 173 kills, 31 total blocks and 10 aces. "She's extremely smart with the game of volleyball," Kaneland coach Todd Weimer said. "She knows, anticipates and understands what we need to do as a team and she fills it and does it very well with her talent, her aggressiveness and her desire to become better as a player and as a team. She blocks very well, attacks from all angles and is extremely fast in transition. She's stepped up her game and has a will to get better and improve every day. She's a smart kid in the classroom and has strong family values. She's a special, one-of-kind kid and we're fortunate to have her be a part of our team and our program."
Briana Flagg, Rosary
With a .319 hitting percentage, 3.3 kills per game, a team-best 249 kills, 22 aces and 174 digs, Flagg posted her second straight big season for the Royals. She joins St. Charles East's Erienne Barry and West Aurora's Lauren Carlini as the only repeat all-area selections. Made the all-tournament team at Wheaton Warrenville South, and she gave first-year coach Rachel Hartmann a hitter she could rely on to put the ball away. "Bri has been standing out a lot lately and has worked very hard this season," Hartmann said.
Kristen Koncelik, Batavia
Headed to Evansville, Koncelik started in the middle for Batavia for four years and improved her all-around play each season. She finished the regular season with 66 blocks and ranks first on Batavia's all-time blocks list with 273. Also had 223 kills and 21 aces this year. "It has been fun watching Kristen develop as a middle blocker over her four years starting on our varsity team," Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. "From where she started out as a freshman, especially in her blocking skills, to where she is now, is quite amazing."
Peyton McKenzie, West Aurora
In her third year playing varsity, the senior outside finished second on DVC-champion West Aurora with 210 kills in the regular season, 50 aces and 128 digs. Made the all-tournament team at Benet. "Peyton was a go-to kid," West Aurora coach Kari Nicholson said. "It was kind of nice to have them (McKenzie and Lauren Carlini) both on the pins. When we first had her we had her in the middle and then we put her on the outside and people were like, where did she come from? I think they underestimated her because she looked so skinny and looked so thin but she pumps that ball right down the line."
Nicole Woods, St. Charles East
After helping the Saints take third in state as a junior, Woods returned for her senior year and stepped into the role as the team's go-to hitter. Finished the regular season with 331 kills and a .257 hitting percentage. Also had 41 aces and a 2.1 passing rating. "She's really been our rock," Saints coach Jennie Kull said. "She has stepped up and had a big year. She has been a leader on and off the court and has elevated her game so she'll be able to step right into college next year. She does it in practice every day, and I couldn't be prouder of her."