By John Lemon
Aleah Amelio Huntley
Through the Red Raiders' regional championship win over Hampshire, this senior totaled 152 kills and 58 aces while providing the leadership the young team needed. Huntley finished 26-8 and second in the Fox Valley Conference. "Aleah is our only senior and a captain for us," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "She's leads on and off the court. She does a great job of helping her teammates out on the court and telling them where to go. She's a competitor and always has been since was a freshman on varsity. It's been a pleasure watching her mature into such an admirable athlete."
Kaitlyn Beebe Aurora Christian
Committed to Western Illinois, this junior played both outside and set for the Northeastern Athletic Conference champion Eagles, who were 29-7 after their Class 2A sectional championship. Beebe had 181 kills, 153 assists, 155 digs and 39 aces through regionals. "Kaitlyn is a smart, dynamic player for us," Aurora Christian coach Amanda Currens said. "She started this season as our setter, but has now transitioned to the outside position and has done very well. She is a reliable leader on the court and able to keep her composure in pressure filled matches."
Payton Bellano Geneva
A two-time All-Area player, Bellano helped steady a Vikings team that graduated almost its entire lineup from last year's supersectional team. The senior finished with 372 digs, 38 aces and 185 service points. Had 20 digs against both Young and Metea Valley. Set 85 assists. Only 34 serve-receive errors in 553 attempts. Three-year varsity player. "She started and played every match this season," Geneva coach Annie Seitelman said. "The experience she brought to the court was an asset. She was an anchor of our serve-receive and defense. The leadership she brought to the team will be greatly missed next season."
Lauren Caprini St. Charles North
The Upstate Eight Conference champion North Stars won 32 games in the regular season in part because of a rock-solid defense, and this senior libero was in the middle of it. She had 317 digs through regionals. Also a tough server with 43 aces. "She's tenacious," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "She has that attitude the ball doesn't drop on my court. We love her for that. She's been the eyes of the team because she's constantly seeing the floor and telling our hitters where to place the ball. It really helps them."
Amanda Cassidy Harvest Christian
Through Harvest Christian's regional championship -- the seventh straight for the program -- Cassidy totaled 276 kills, 40 aces, 21 blocks and 205 digs. The senior totaled 11 kills, 6 aces and 7 digs in a key conference win over Aurora Christian, and had 7 kills and 7 digs in the regional final. "Amanda has taken on a big role as our leader on the court," Harvest Christian coach Mike Bui said. "Her court presence and leadership has made the team overall better. Amanda Cassidy has been our MVP for us this season."
GiGi Crescenzo St. Charles North
There's not much this well-rounded junior outside can't do as her stats show -- 29 aces, 185 kills (.253 percentage), 251 digs and 27 blocks through regional play. "She was a stud when she came in as a freshman and we knew she was going to be a huge key to our success," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "Her sophomore year she came alive. She's super dynamic. She accelerates to the ball really well. She's got a nice high arm swing and she's really good at shot placement. She's small and undersized. People underestimate her. She's really awesome on defense. People have a hard time getting the ball past her."
Jenna Garrett Batavia
A 5-foot-9 senior setter headed to Lindenwood University, Garrett completed her fourth year on varsity and third as team captain. All-tournament at the Metea/Oswego East Invite, the Jacobs invitational and the Waubonsie Valley Warrior Blast. Also is ranked No. 1 in her senior class. In 36 matches, she had 56 kills, led the team in serving at 98.4 percent with 23 aces, had 650 assists, was second on the team with 264 digs and a school-best 76.3 dig percentage. In her career her 728 digs are fourth best and her 1,701 career assists also is fourth. "Jenna is a huge reason why we have been competitive this season," Batavia coach Lori Trippi-Payne said. "As a team, we had the best digging team in school history, and she was a big reason why. We were not one of the tallest teams, nor did we have a big terminator, but Jenna found the way to run an excellent, fast, deceptive offense and used all of her hitters with a great amount of success. She is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached, and I am so proud of her for all that she has achieved as an athlete and leader in our program and school."
Abby Graham St. Charles North
St. Charles North went 36-3 through sectional play and won the Upstate Eight Conference River Division championship. This senior outside, a 2-time All-Area selection, was the glue to that squad. Through the North Stars' regional championship, Graham had 195 kills, hitting a .218 percentage, with 15 aces, 37 blocks and 185 digs. "She shoulders the team for us," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "She might not have the most kills on the team but the girls are constantly looking to her to lead the team. She sets the tone. She is probably the best leader I could ever ask for. She's consistently the one that people ask about."
Katie Jablonski Kaneland
This junior outside led the Knights to a 28-8 season with a team-best 202 kills. Also had 216 digs, second on the team. Served 250 points with 33 aces. Had 19 blocks. That versatility was one of the things Knights coach Cynthia Violett appreciated most. "Katie is an all-around good player," Violett said. "Back row, front row. She knows how to read a block and find holes."
Taylor Jakubowski Huntley
This sophomore setter already is a two-time All-Area selection. Led Huntley to a regional championship and 26-win season with 702 assists, 59 aces, 71 kills and 299 digs. "Taylor is a two-time captain for the varsity team which I think speaks volumes about her leadership skills," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "She's the quarterback of the team and can make anything happen on offense. As much as I can go on and rave about her athletic abilities her personality is unlike any I've ever coached. She is the most humble, respectful athlete and deserves all the success she obtains."
Sarah Konovodoff Rosary
Konovodoff picked up right where her sister Martha, a three-year All-Area selection who graduated last year, left off. Sarah led the Royals with 389 digs through their Class 3A regional championship. Also served 26 aces including 5 against Wheaton Warrenville South and 4 against Plainfield Central. Had 18 digs against Neuqua Valley and Aurora Christian. "Sarah is the best libero I have had the pleasure of coaching given her age and talent level," first-year Rosary coach Bill Allen said. "She is only a sophomore and sealed the libero position the moment she walked in the gym. The first time I met her she told me she was going to be the libero without me even seeing her play. I had my doubts with the words 'you are only a sophomore' going through my head until I saw her play, then those doubts went away instantly."
Katie Lanz St. Charles North
This junior committed to UNC-Wilmington elevated her game as much as anyone. Served 8 aces in a regional championship win over DeKalb. Through that win she had 79 aces, 256 kills (.314 percentage), 158 digs, 22 blocks and 209 assists, a versatile player who can do everything on the court. "Amazing player," North Stars coach Lindsey Hawkins said. "She's so versatile and that's probably why we are able to run the offense we do because we have her hitting from outside and hitting from right-side and have her setting. She's extremely versatile. She's going to be a great player too in her future at college."
Molly Lambillotte Geneva
Few players hit a ball harder than this 5-10 senior outside. Finished with 332 kills as the go-to hitter for 21-16 Geneva. Also served 43 aces and had 253 digs. Put away 20 kills against Marist, 19 against York and 14 against Naperville Central. Served 6 aces against Wheaton Warrenville South and 5 against Larkin; had 20 digs in a 3-set win over Batavia. Two-year varsity player. "She was a six-rotation player who was relied upon for her serve-receive, defense and attacking," Geneva coach Annie Seitelman said. "The leadership she brought to the team will be greatly missed next season."
Madison Leone Burlington Central
The Rockets won the Kishwaukee River Conference championship, and this senior outside provided much of the pop. A three-year varsity player and captain this year, Leone was a six-rotation player who led the Rockets with 40 aces, 239 kills, 237 digs and a pass rating of 2.1. The all-conference choice is undecided for college. "She's tough to defend because she's a lefty on the outside," Burlington Central coach Meghan Blahnik said. "She's very good with her hand waiting to the last minute. She does a good job with placement. She's a smart player. She will be greatly missed at Burlington Central."
Cate Long Aurora Christian
Only a sophomore, it was a memorable fall for the 6-foot outside hitter who committed to Clemson after the Tigers coaches came to watch her play at a match in September. With a 29-7 record after winning a Class 2A sectional title, Long posted 271 kills on a 34 hitting percentage with 141 digs and 16 blocks (through regional play). "Cate is a tremendous athlete with great volleyball instinct," Aurora Christian coach Amanda Currens said. "She is only a sophomore but leads our team in kills and positively contributes to our defense. Cate has committed to Clemson University and will be a great asset there. I am proud of the maturity Cate displays on the court. She's had a successful season with us this year."
Sheika Mushunduzi Kaneland
Second on Kaneland in kills (197), it was her improved play that helped Kaneland overcome heavy graduation losses to enjoy a 28-win season. More than just a hitter, Mushunduzi also served 44 aces -- tops on the team -- and had 193 digs. "Sheika had a really good season," Kaneland coach Cynthia Violett said. "For a senior coming in who didn't play a whole lot last year, she came in and took a leadership role. It was her time to shine. She has a nice line shot."
Amber Olson Cary-Grove
This senior setter led the Trojans in assists with 315. Also served 26 aces, blocked 46 balls and had 193 kills. Will play next year at the University of Central Florida. "Amber was a huge factor to our team's success this season," Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis said. "She became an attacker along with setting and really helped the team have more muscle on offense. Her size helped us to be a better blocking team than we expected. She had the ability to own the net with her block and to score at will offensively. A player of her potential will be difficult to replace next year."
Maggie Seagren Hampshire
Hampshire coach Ramon Borrero leaned heavily on Seagren in his first year as Whip-Purs coach. Served 24 aces, led the team with 154 kills and also had 30 blocks and 134 digs. "Maggie maintained a high level of performance throughout the season," Borrero said. "Her offensive ability in my opinion places her among the best hitters in our conference. Maggie reads the game very well which allows her to anticipate defensively and for that reason she makes a lot of contact with the ball in the back row. Maggie is quick on the net and because of that she makes a lot of contact in the block. Maggie has a very consistent jump top spin serve that she can move all over the places. Certainly Maggie was the leader of the Hampshire squad throughout the season."
Anna Skryd St. Charles East
Headed out to UNC-Asheville, this senior libero served 40 aces and had 268 digs through the Saints' Class 4A regional championship win over Geneva. Made the all-tournament team at Glenbard East's Autumnfest tournament and all-conference. "She's the quarterback," Saints coach Jennie Kull said. "She's really made a habit in the last third of the season to start running the team. And you can hear her out there and she's confident. She just makes it happen."
Kyra Slavik St. Charles East
Committed to Ohio University as a setter, the senior put the team first this fall by switching to outside hitter so her sister McKenna could set. The move worked as St. Charles East posted a 31-8 record. Slavik totaled 17 aces, 216 kills on a .344 hitting percentage, 30 blocks, 118 assists and 188 digs. "That's amazing," Saints coach Jennie Kull said of the position switch. "And she's really good at it. She's my winner. She's my fighter. She attacks the ball, she digs the ball. She wants more. She's in practice asking for more, asking for more. She loves this position. She knows she's a great setter. She is a dynamic player."
McKenna Slavik St. Charles East
This Clemson commit was steady from the start of the season on, a setter who found her teammates with 533 assists through regional play. Also was as good as anyone at sending a quick tip over the net to catch the defense off-guard. Also had 16 aces, 122 kills with a .408 hitting percentage, 40 blocks and 180 digs. "McKenna is steady," St. Charles East coach Jennie Kull said. "She is confident. And really good. Her hands are like butter. She lays them out. She sees things a lot of other setters at that age don't see."
Klaudia Sowizral St. Charles East
This University of Conneticut-bound outside hitter possessed as much power at the net as anyone. Through the Saints' regional championship, which gave them 30 wins, Sowizral put down 190 kills on a .344 hitting percentage. Also had a team-best 44 blocks. "This is the best I've seen her play," Saints coach Jennie Kull said. "She has finally come into herself. She's passing well. She's attacking the ball. I'm really excited to see what happens when she gets to UConn because she really is making it happen now."
Farah Taki West Aurora
The Blackhawks knocked off some good teams this year and peaked at the end of the season, and this two-year varsity middle played a key role. The 6-foot-1 senior, an all-conference selection, Taki led her team in aces with 51, kills with 180 and blocks with 66 -- improving her numbers from 97 kills and 32 blocks as a junior. "Farah has dominated most of the competition she has come against at West Aurora," West Aurora coach Kevin Mortlock said. "Farah's blocking and counterattack offense is what sets her apart from her competition. She rises to the occasion in big matches and takes it personally when another middle tries to take over a game on her watch. When Farah blocks well we do well."
Elizabeth Vedrine South Elgin
South Elgin set a school record with 26 wins and won the program's first two tournaments while finishing second in the Upstate Eight Valley. Vedrine made all-conference as both a junior and senior, earned a spot on Prospect's all-tournament team, and played three years of varsity volleyball. Finished with 198 kills with a .435 hitting percentage and 65 blocks. "Elizabeth was our go-to hitter," South Elgin coach Joni Plach said. "She was a big reason we had 26 wins. Elizabeth is the most skilled and versatile middle hitter to come through the South Elgin volleyball program. Any attack I needed her to hit she could run with."
Sarah Zayas Huntley
The junior libero helped Huntley to a 24-7 regular season and second place finish in the Fox Valley Conference. The Red Raiders then won a regional title before losing to St. Charles East in the sectional semifinals. Zayas had 16 digs in that match to finish with 318 plus 27 aces. "Zayas is such an amazing libero for us," Huntley coach Karen Naymola said. "I really believe at times she doesn't always get the recognition she deserves because she makes everything look so effortless on defense. She's not diving all over because she reads so well and moves so well on the court. She helps the offense tremendously by telling them where to swing. There is a confidence with her in the back row and knowing she doesn't let balls hit on defense."
Aurora Christian -- Emily Ward sr., L; Jenna Long, so., S
Aurora Central Catholic -- Sarah Elliott, sr. S
Bartlett -- Emily Baggot, jr., OH; Isabella Diaz, so., MH
Batavia -- Sam Juarez, sr., L; Hannah Yaconis, sr., MH
Burlington Central -- Gabriela Soto, sr., S; Brittany Parks, sr.
Cary-Grove -- Emily Schuster, sr., OH
Crystal Lake South -- Aurora Nero, sr., OH, Kleja Cerniauskaite, sr., MH
Dundee-Crown -- Zoe Sitarz, sr., L; Jenna Thelen, sr., MH; Irene Martin, sr., OH
Elgin -- Karen Aguirre, sr., L
Geneva -- Danielle Thompson, sr., OH
Harvest Christian -- Hannah Griffith, sr., MH; Candis Kaplan, sr., L
Huntley -- Julia Johnson, jr., OH; Loren Alberts, jr., MH
Jacobs -- Kelly Ross, sr., MH; Hannah Rivera, sr., S; Autumn Miller, sr., OH
Kaneland -- Julianna Vassallo, jr. L
Rosary -- Lauren Brummel, sr., OH; Maya Sullivan, sr., MH; Paige Gardella, so., S
South Elgin -- Casie Swanson, sr., S; Sarah Murray, sr., DS
St. Charles East -- Hannah Spicer, sr., OH
St. Charles North -- CJ Johnson, sr., RS; Amanda Parker, sr., RS
St. Edward -- Mary Catherine Kelly, sr., S; Isabel Warner, sr., MH.
West Aurora -- Abbey Lieser, sr., L; Kendra Battle, so., RS
-- Compiled by John Lemon