Kiarra Akiyoshi Buffalo GroveOne of the top liberos in the Mid-Suburban League, Akiyoshi appears on the all-area team for the second straight year. The three-year varsity member has also served as a captain during that time. "Kiarra's leadership on and off the court is exemplary," said Bison coach Matt Priban about his senior who contributed 388 digs served at a 93 percent rate with 24 aces. "Kiarra has a great ability to read the game and communicate with her teammates," Priban said "She is extremely driven and competitive."
Claire Chaplinsky PalatineOne of the most dynamic offensive players in the state, the Pirates knew they could count on Chaplinsky when the team needed a kill on a big point in the match. Going into sectional play, she had 394 kills and 783 for her career, both school records since the implementation of rally score. "Claire has worked tirelessly to improve her all around game," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "It's been incredibly fun to watch her develop from a talented but sometimes inconsistent freshman into the hardworking, competitor and leader that she has grown into." Chaplinsky, who will play for Rhode Island, also notched 258 digs, 25 blocks and 58 aces this fall. "I know she's going to accomplish amazing things as she continues her career at Rhode Island next season," Gavin said.
Sydney Christiansen PalatineOne of the top setters in the state, Christiansen will finish her career with more than 2,600 assists. "She is truly the engine that makes our offense go and she has really worked hard to become a more cerebral player, recognizing and exploiting matchups," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. Going into sectional play, Christiansen had 907 assists this fall from 2,281 sets, good for a .397 efficiency. All three numbers are school records since the implementation of rally score. For her career, her 2,600-plus assists are a school record and according to MaxPreps, she is No. 1 in MSL history (in the rally score era).
Hala Fakhoury WheelingFakhoury collected 288 digs to help spark the Wildcats' back row during their Mid-Suburban East co-championship season. "Hala has greatly improved throughout her high school career," said Wildcats coach Jason Kopkowski. "Her commitment to the game and her work ethic have transformed her into the player she is today." Fakhoury served 78.2 percent with 24 aces while also recording 14 kills and 20 setting assists (.123 efficiency). "Hala also has a strong jump serve, as well as back-row attack," Kopkowski said. "She always plays with emotion and will sacrifice her body at any and all costs to save a point for her team She has earned the libero position for the past two seasons and has played the position at a consistently high level. Hala is second on the team with total digs only because of our defensive arrangement not allowing her to be on the court as much as traditional lineups regarding the libero position."
Natalie Freund FremdFremd's Mid-Suburban League championship season was run by a champion setter. Freund was 1,671-of-1,716 with 599 assists heading into the sectional. "Our entire season has run through the hands of Natalie," said Fremd coach Curt Pinley. "She has been our rock over the last two seasons. She was an all-conference selection last year, as well as our team MVP. I am guessing she will earn those titles again this season." For her career, Freund was 2,956 for 3,035 with 1,029 assists. She also was 437 of 481 with 58 aces serving and collected 246 digs. "Her teammates voted her a team captain this year and her leadership has been exemplary," Pinley added. "Natalie's leadership and skills cannot be replaced by just one person next season, so to say she will be missed would be an understatement. If leadership, dedication, athleticism and character define an athlete, then she is one of the best to ever have taken the floor for our program."
Mallory Gerber SchaumburgSchaumburg coach Jeanette Pancratz said Gerber was the team's rock. "She remained steadfast and consistent day in and day out, never faltering," said Pancratz, a winner of more than 900 matches in her career. "Her leadership helps others in being the best they can be." Gerber served at 94.9 percent and put away 216 kills with a .163 hitting efficiency. She passed 286 of 311 with 240 digs and 26 blocks this fall. "Mallory is a purpose driven athlete," Pancratz added. "Her pursuit of perfection is evidenced by her excellent skill technique and ability to play in the moment and adjust her game performance as needed. When an opponent tests Mallory's ability she responds as a champion -- with positivity, enthusiasm and confidence. The opponent soon realizes Mallory gets the job done. Mallory sees the talents and gifts of her teammates and celebrates their successes no matter how big or small these successes may be. She is the consummate teammate."
Catherine Hickey St. ViatorWhen the Lions needed a point, Hickey was up to the challenge. The 5-foot-11 junior outside hitter led the team in the regular season with 217 kills. "Catherine is our go-to girl when we need to put the ball away," said St. Viator coach Charlie Curtin. "She has taken over matches both offensively and defensively this year and it is fun to watch." Hickey also has 26 aces, 6 blocks and 170 digs. "She is one of our captains and leads by example," Curtin added. "She loves the sport of volleyball and works to better herself by being a complete gym rat." Curtin said Hickey never shies away from a volleyball and continuously puts her body on the line to save an errant ball. "She possesses a wide skill set that allows her to be a force no matter where she is on the court," he added.
Bailey Hooker FremdHooker never took a minute off the floor this fall and in a second, she could change the match with her versatile play. Going into the sectional, Hooker put down 167 kills and 255 for her career from 741 attempts. She also had 121 digs this fall (third best on team) and 141 overall. "Bailey never left the floor this season," said Fremd coach Curt Pinley. "She has been our go-to hitter when our setter needed someone to create a dynamic play. She has nearly doubled the attempts that any other hitters on our team have attempted. That just reinforces the trust and the expectations that our team had for her." Hooker also served 30 aces (second highest on the team) and was second on the team in service attempts. "Bailey is in the top three of nearly every category on our team," Pinley said. "She is that athlete that keeps team continuity both on and off the court."
Jessica Janowski WheelingShowing great improvement from her sophomore year on varsity to her junior year, Jankowski was superb setting the offense for the Mid-Suburban East champions. "The speed at which she plays the game and how she sees the game has improved the most," said Wheeling coach Jason Kopkowski. "She is capable of setting any player at any position from anywhere on the court. Last season, as a sophomore, that was not possible." Janowski accumulated 677 assists this season at a .313 setting efficiency. Defensively, she has saved us 229 points with a strong effort from the right back position." Janowski also served 93 percent with 33 aces, 51 kills, 5 blocks and 229 digs. "Jessica was named a captain for this season because of her work ethic, her play making ability, and her strong decision regarding running an offense," Kopkowski added.
Kati Kaburov HerseyIt was a history-making season for the 14-year-old graduate of Thomas Middle School. Kaburov became the first freshman to lead coach Nancy Lill's tradition-rich program in kills. Kaburov stepped into the outside hitter vacancy left by Hersey great Liz Fuerst (IPUIFW) and made an impact immediately. "Katie was an impact player from the moment she started playing with our team," Lill said. "Even in summer league, she played with rare poise for a young player. She was our go-to as an outside hitter and dominated most matches with her strong swing." Kaburov provided 227 kills with her wicked swing while hitting an impressive .288 hitting efficiency. She also served a team-leading 35 aces and was solid in the back row with 173 digs and at the net with 25 block kills.
Rachel Kandefer Elk GroveOnly a sophomore, Kandefer was the Grenadiers' most reliable player. "She was our go-to hitter," said Elk Grove coach Stephanie Kezios. "We counted on her to finish competitive volleys. She is also the first player EG has had in several seasons who can regularly get us block kills." Kandefer put down 163 kills (2.3 kills per game). She also had 57 blocks. "Even though she is only a sophomore, her maturity and competitiveness make her a stand out among her peers," Kezios said. "We are so proud of the contributions she has made as a young player in our program and are thrilled to know we have her for the next two seasons as well."
Alyssa Kronberg PalatineSimply put, Kronberg gave opposing attackers tough nights. "If there is a better libero in Illinois, I haven't seen her," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "Alyssa is where it all starts for us and she has been a model of consistency." Heading into the sectional, Kronberg recorded 470 balls at a staggering 2.42 this fall while digging 576 balls, second in Illinois according to MaxPreps and a single-season Pirates record in the rally score era. For her career, she has received over 1,400 balls and racked up a school record 1,658 digs. "I can't wait to see her frustrating the attackers of Conference USA next season." said Gavin, whose standout defender will play for the University of Memphis.
Carrie Leazer St. ViatorThe 5-foot-7 sophomore libero finished her second season on the varsity by leading the team with 73 aces and 389 digs heading into the postseason. She also contributed 27 assists, 49 kills, and a team-leading 525 receptions as the Lions' defensive captain. "Carrie's knowledge of the game and ability to read hitters allows her to be properly positioned throughout a match," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin. "She has an amazing jump serve that catches opponents off guard. Her aggressiveness has kept us in many games and allowed us to pull ahead against tougher opponents."
Ysabel Lee FremdFremd coach Curt Pinley says the Southern Illinois recruit will take an athletic ability to Carbondale that a coach does not often see. "She truly has sacrificed for our program over the last two years, playing out of position for the better of the team," Pinley said of his senior outside hitter. " Ysabel is a natural middle. She will probably play there in college but we needed her as an outside this season. She accepted that roll over the last two years and sacrificed for the better of the team." Heading into sectional play, Lee put down 123 kills this fall and 330 in her career. "Because of her sacrifice it gave us a chance to have a successful season," said Pinley, whose Vikings won the Mid-Suburban League title and a regional title. "When Ysabel is at her best, there are few teams that can contain her. She will be impossible to replicate and hard to replace next season."
Autumn McGee LeydenNot only did McGee set the offense for Leyden, she also set the tone with her attack. The senior led the Eagles with an average of 5 kills per match, approximately 190 for the fall. "I've got to say, Autumn is one the most talented volleyball players I have had the pleasure of coaching the past 11 years," said Leyden coach Danielle Kowalkowski. "She is 5-foot-8 and quite the athlete. Not only are her hands great and her sets accurate and consistent, but she produces more kills than most of our hitters because of the smart play in the front and back row. She also has an effective jump float and top spin serve."
Gabrielle Morris BarringtonWhen it came to attacking, no one at Barrington did it better than Morris the last two seasons. Both years, she was the Fillies' leader in kills. She put down down 221 this fall while also recording 288 serve receives and placing third in digs with 133. "Gabby is a solid six-rotation player," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski. "She was able to get us points from anywhere on the court. She was one of the leaders of the team. Gabby will be very hard to replace."
Michaela Mueller St. ViatorThe 5-foot-6 junior setter was named the Lions captain this season and she lived up to the expectations both on and off the court. A three-year varsity player and two-time all-area selection, Mueller had a team-leading 543 assists going into the sectional. She was second on the team with 225 digs along with 44 aces and 28 kills. "Michaela continues to get better each and every year," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin. "She is ultracompetitive and brings out the best in her teammates. Michaela continues to lead our team and bring her fiery spirit to both practices and games. She has been an integral part of our team this year and will continue to have a huge role next year."
Kaeli Myers ProspectMyers gave the Knights a big boost in the back row with her defense but she her offense was equally important. The senior outside hitter, a three-year varsity player, led Prospect with 230. "Kaela's great defense (more than 360 digs) kept us in many games," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber. "And her serve receive is incredibly consistent." Myers also gave the Knights a lift at the service line where she delivered 18 aces this season.
Ashley Poland Hoffman EstatesPoland had quite a rookie season as she became the first freshman in program history to register more than 500 digs. Her 14 digs in the regional play-in game against Conant gave her 504 for the season. "Ashley's competitiveness and court awareness are phenomenal," said Hawks coach Dan Hutton. "She just reads the ball really well around the block and she is quick to the ball." Poland also led Hoffman with more than 30 aces this fall. "We are excited to have her around for three more seasons," Hutton said.
Maggie Porwit ProspectA three-year varsity player, Porwit often put a charge into the Knights' attack with one of her big kills or timely digs. The senior right side hitter, who will continue her career at Washington University in St. Louis, collected 316 digs, 215 kills, 18 aces and 53 solo blocks heading into sectional play. "Maggie has a very strong front row presence," said Knights coach Laura Gerber. "Not only with her blocking but with her hitting. She plays all the way around."
Jessica Riedl Maine WestMaine West's captain was the team leader on and off the court. On the court, the 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter put down 335 kills with a .383 hitting percentage. She also recorded 76 blocks, 30 aces, 166 digs. She had a .912 serving percentage and passed a 1.64 in 202 attempts. "Jessica is a talented volleyball player who demonstrates high character, work ethic, and passion for the sport," said Warriors coach Mike Cott of the two-time Central Suburban North all conference selection.
Maggie Reisel HerseyHersey veteran coach Nancy Lill calls Reisel one of the best leaders she has coached. The two-year starter and three-year varsity player proved to be one of the top setters in the area with 765 assists and a .389 assist ratio. "Maggie has been the key to our successful season," Lill said. "Her ability to get to any ball and run our team's offense has been outstanding." Along with her standout setting abilities, Reisel is also a great defensive player (217 digs) and the most consistent server in the entire MSL (98.7 percent with 26 aces). She was very effective in the front row, adding 22 block kills and 51 kills. "Maggie was like having a coach on the floor," Lill added. "The enthusiasm and effort she brings to the game is second to none. She has worked extremely hard and gotten the most out of all the ability she has. She will be missed."
Karolina Sas FremdThe ever-steady Sas played a key role in the Vikings' Mid-Suburban League championship season. "Karolina's defense is what kept us consistent all year," said Fremd coach Curt Pinley. "She quietly helped guide our team with her unassuming leadership in the back row." Sas led the team with 246 digs and 348 of 368 on serve receive. She was also tops in serve with 34 aces. "You want to make sure the defense is led by someone who has the respect of her teammates and the tenacity that others can feed off in close matches, and that was Karolina," Pinley added. "Wearing the jersey of the best defender on the floor, she led us in all defensive categories. She is an athlete who worked hard on her craft and was more critical about her game than a coach could ever be. That is what makes her such a great competitor."
Maddie Sellergren Rolling MeadowsA three-year varsity starter, Sellergren was a key force in helping the Mustangs to a 20-plus win season. She put down 214 kills while collecting 138 digs, 121 blocks and 29 aces. "Maddie has worked hard every year to improve her game and it has showed," said Mustangs coach Joe DiSilvio. "Her level of consistency and reliability has improved every season to become a dominant force at the net. Maddie was one of our captains this year and gave everything she had to help us attain such a great season."
Liz Solans HerseyThe Huskies were often able to transition into their offense with ease, and credit for that belongs to Solans' accuracy in the back row. The senior libero, a two-year starter, moved to the libero position early in the season when 2015 all-area libero Emma Frankiewicz suffered a broken hand. "Liz moved over from defensive specialist to libero to provide a seamless transition, aiding the much-needed defense and serve receive the team sorely needed," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "Liz excelled in the back row. She had an incredible 2.26 serve receive." Defensively, Solans frustrated many hitters with her quickness and ability to read hitters. She collected 494 digs and was also an excellent server at 94.7 percent with 27 aces.
Cecilia Stack BarringtonStack made her presence felt at the net this fall, leading the Fillies in blocks (91) while also putting down 138 kills (third best on the team). "Cecilia stepped into the leadership role this year," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski. "She was a force at the net and someone we counted on to get us a kill." Stack will continue her career at the Division I level. "Cecilia will be a great addition to the UNC-Ashville Volleyball program," Jakubowski said.
Timber Terrell WheelingWheeling coach Jason Kopkowski put it simple: "Timber is the best volleyball player to ever compete for Wheeling." Terrell holds school records for single-season kills (387) and career kills. She ranks in the top five for career aces, blocks and digs. "Timber is an exceptional talent and that has matched her talent with a work ethic second to none," Kopkowski said. "Throughout her four years, Timber has been a sponge in regards to gaining knowledge about the game." Terrell had 316 digs, 73 blocks and 35 aces (93 percent) this season. "She put in more time in the gym than any other player, and had truly dedicated herself to the sport," Kopkowski said. "Timber has played a huge role in becoming co-divisional champions (MSL East) this season (first time in 36 years). A three time all-conference and all-area player, Terrell was the MSL East Player of the Year and will play at Arkansas State University.
Valerie Thomas ProspectWhen it comes to serving and defense, the Knights were able to count on Thomas. And when you count up her digs and aces, they led the team. Heading into sectional play, the junior libero had 522 digs and 44 aces while helping the Knights win 26 matches and the school's first regional championship since 2003. "Val has done an incredible job on defense this year," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber of her junior libero. "With her consistent passing, we can run our offense with ease."
Peyton Tilly BarringtonThe future looks promising for Tilly, who made a strong impact with her attacking and blocking as a sophomore. Tilly played a key role in the Fillies' spirited run for the West title (they finished third). Tilly was second on the team in kills (150) and blocks (35). "As a sophomore, Peyton stepped up and was a player we could give the ball to for a kill," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski. "We are looking forward to continue to seeing Peyton grow as a hitter and a six-rotation player."
Jorie Wachal ConantA three-year starter, Wachal developed into one of the top middle hitters in the Mid-Suburban League. The senior outside hitter led Conant this fall in kills and blocks. "What stands out most about Jorie is not only how much she has developed throughout the years as a player, but her leadership skills on and off the court this year," said Conant coach Drewann Pancratz. "Her team-first mentality and passion for the sport has been contagious throughout our program and she truly has set the example of what it means to be a Conant Cougar volleyball player. We will miss her next year."
Katie Zanocco Rolling MeadowsZanocco was a major force at the net for the Mustangs this fall. She finished with 215 kills, 69 blocks and 18 aces to help Meadows register more than 20 wins. "Katie caused a great deal of trouble on both offense and defense against our opponents," said Rolling Meadows coach Joe DiSilvio. "She led us in both kills and blocks for the season and will be extremely difficult to replace."
Kamila Zieba LeydenThe senior libero produced at least 10 digs every match and approximately 380 digs for the season. "Kamila is a dynamic player," said Leyden coach Danielle Kowalkowski. "She covers a large part of our floor on defense and is not afraid to step in and make a dig." Zieba produced at least 60 percent of the Eagles' settable passes. "Her serve receive is great," Kowalkowski said. "She has a great jump float, too. Her hustle is commendable and she deserves recognition for her hard work this past season."
Player School Yr. Pos.
Kiarra Akiyoshi Buffalo Grove Sr. L
Claire Chaplinsky Palatine Sr. OH
Sydney Christiansen Palatine Sr. S
Hala Fakhoury Wheeling Sr. L
Natalie Freund Fremd Sr. S
Mallory Gerber Schaumburg Sr OH
Catherine Hickey St. Viator Jr. OH
Bailey Hooker Fremd Sr. OH
Jessica Janowski Wheeling Jr. S
Kati Kaburov Hersey Fr. OH
Rachel Kandefer Elk Grove So. MH
*Alyssa Kronberg Palatine Sr. L
Carrie Leazer St. Viator So. L
Ysabel Lee Fremd Sr. OH
Autumn McGee Leyden Sr. S
Gabrielle Morris Barrington Jr. OH
Michaela Mueller St. Viator Jr. S
Kaela Myers Prospect Sr. OH
Ashley Poland Hoffman Estates Fr. L
Maggie Porwit Prospect Sr. OH
Jessica Riedl Maine West Jr. MH
Maggie Reisel Hersey Sr. S
Karolina Sas Fremd Sr. L
Maddie Sellergren Rolling Meadows Sr. OH
Liz Solans Hersey Sr. L
Cecilia Stack Barrington Sr. OH
Timber Terrell Wheeling Sr. OH/MH
Valerie Thomas Prospect Jr. L
Peyton Tilly Barrington So. OH
Jorie Wachal Conant Sr. OH
Katie Zanocco Rolling Meadows Sr. MH
Kamila Zieba Leyden Sr. LH
* -- honorary captain
Special mentionJenny Banak (Elk Grove), Kim Barton (Buffalo Grove), Brooke Bauer (Palatine), Kailyn Bryk (Fremd), Andi Capel (Barrington), Bailey Cummings (Schaumburg Christian), Micaela Encarnacion (Schaumburg), Emma Frankiewicz (Hersey), Paige Gerber (Prospect), Kathleen Gueco (Hoffman Estates), Yuri Hara (Conant), Jordyn Harberts (Schaumburg), Haley Holz (Palatine), Kanella Kalyviaris (Buffalo Grove), Shannon Kennedy (Wheeling), Katie Kerrigan (St. Viator), Kristina Loznjakovic (Conant), Bailey Madrzyk (Barrington), Jessica Mazur (Fremd), Mary Mazurek (Prospect), Isabel Michniak (Elk Grove), Amy Morgan (Hersey), Kate Nottoli (St. Viator), Mary Clare O'Shea (Hersey), Gabby Paelmo (Schaumburg), Natalie Payne (Leyden), Madeline Rebsamen (Rolling Meadows), Corey Rinella (Palatine), Macie Robinson (Rolling Meadows), Beverly Ryan (Palatine), Hannah Schuler (Buffalo Grove), Julia Spitelli (Schaumburg), Kamila Staniszewski (Wheeling) , Sammi Steger (Hersey), Zoe Strozewski (Hersey), Morgan Sterrett (Schaumburg), Michaela Vasalos (Conant), Ana Zawisza (Barrington)
selections and capsules by John Leusch