Ally Block Maine West Block was the setter for the Warriors this season but she did much more than just handing out 448 assists while directing the offense for the Central Suburban League North co-champions. The two-time all-conference selection also collected 39 aces, 31 kills, 12 blocks and 159 digs. And the best news for the Warriors and coach Mike Cott is that she is only a junior. "Ally is a very good athlete and has an all-around volleyball skill set," Cott said. "She is an outstanding defensive player and possesses a rapidly increasing setting IQ."
Andi Capel BarringtonThe Fillies were a tough opponent for every team they faced, and Capel was one of the toughest players at the net. "Andi was the glue of our team this season," said Barrington coach Michelle Jakubowski of her four-year varsity player. Capel was the captain for this year's squad, which produced a 22-15 record and solid 6-4 record in the competitive Mid-Suburban West. The 5-foot-10 outside hitter showed her versatility as the Fillies' only six-rotation player this fall. She led the team with 51 aces, 245 points, and 242 kills. She was second on the team with 206 digs.
Eleanor Errico Rolling MeadowsOnly a junior, Errico is on pace to set the record for most career blocks and kills in Rolling Meadows history. "With a repeat performance next year, she could do it," said coach Joe DiSilvio. She led the Mustangs with 236 kills and 75 blocks this fall. "Eleanor has been dominant in some matches finding open spaces and getting kills at will," DiSilvio said. "She also developed a tough and consistent serve, which helped us score several points." Errico served 91.8 percent (223-for-234, second on the team, 27 aces). Her .274 percent hitting efficiency also led the team. "Eleanor has seen drastic improvements in her game this season from last year," DiSilvio added. "As a sophomore on the varsity, she contributed at times for us but now we are counting on her to help win games."
Claire Ferriss Buffalo GroveFerriss enjoyed quite a first season on the Bison varsity. The junior outside hitter made an immediate impact for coach Matt Priban's club. Ferriss led the Bison with 238 kills and finished with a 0.216 hitting efficiency. She also showed more of her all-around game by serving for 22 aces and displayed her defense skills with 209 digs. "Claire's strong skill set has allowed her to contribute in all phases of the game," Priban said. "She is constantly looking to improve and has grown so much as a player throughout the season."
Catherine Hickey St. Viator
St. Viator's go-to player has the Lions going to a supersectional. The senior captain is also headed to Limestone College in South Carolina. "She has a very strong volleyball IQ," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin. "She is a six-rotation outside hitter who has the capability of attacking from all six rotations." After regional play, Hickey had a school-record 445 kills, 65 aces, 405 serve receptions, 16 blocks and 226 digs. "She is our go to attacker that has a wide range of shots that keep the defense off balance," Curtin said. "Catherine's serve gets our opponents out of system right from the get go."
Haley Holz PalatineOne of the most explosive players in the state, Holz had another stellar season. The 6-foot-2 junior, a three-year starter, put down 346 kills while also collecting 84 aces, 35 blocks and 189 digs. During her career, the Pirates have won more than 80 matches. "She is without a doubt one of the most dynamic offensive players around," said Pirates coach Dan Gavin. "She can hit any tempo ball from any spot on the court. This type of versatility really takes a huge amount of pressure off passers and setters." Holz's serve is a game-changer. Her 84 aces shattered the previous school record since the implementation of the 25-point set. "Haley is as coachable as they come," Gavin said. "And she just keeps getting better and better."
Jessica Janowski Wheeling A two-time all-area selection, Janowski completed her three-year varsity career with 1,824 assists and 55 wins. She also served as a co-captain this fall, setting a 5-1 offense. "It is Jessica's work ethic that makes her the volleyball player that she is today," said Wheeling coach Jason Kopkowski. "She works tirelessly putting in extra time, reps, and training to improve her game so that the team can benefit as well." Janowski served 88.9 percent this season with 47 aces. She owned a setting efficiency of .261 percent, collecting 670 assists while putting down 54 kills with 270 digs and 7 blocks. Janowski was one of only three returners from last year who helped lead the Wildcats to 20 wins and a regional championship appearance. "Jessica will be greatly missed," Kopkowski said. "We wish her the best as she continues her volleyball career at the next level."
Kati Kaburov HerseyKaburov became the youngest player to receive the Mid-Suburban Easts Player of the year award. The sophomore outside hitter, a two-time all-area pick, led the Huskies with 310 kills heading into the sectional. "She had an incredible season," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "She was an impact player in every aspect of the game, playing all six rotations." Kaburov hit an outstanding .306 and led the team with 72 aces while serving 90 percent. "She dominated the front row and back with her swing," Lill said. Kaburov also showed her strength in blocking, collecting 51 for kills while also excelling in the back court with 306 digs as a primary passer. "Katie is such a dominant player for us," Lill said. "Teams cannot escape her impact. She hammers kills in the front row, serves teams off the floor and comes up with great saves in the back row. It is unbelievable all that Katie has accomplished at Hersey at such a young age. She is only halfway though her high school career. It will be great to have her back for two more seasons."
Rachel Kandefer Elk GroveWhen it was time to terminate, Kandefer was at her best. The 6-1 junior was responsible for scoring 34.3 percent of the Grens' points this season. She put down 136 kills (. 197 hitting efficiency). "So it's obvious that she makes a great offensive contribution," said Grens coach Stephanie Kezios. "Rachel is our go-to player when we need to finish a volley." Kandefer also had 56 blocks. "Rachel has also evolved into a great verbal contributor," Kezios added. "She really broke out of her shell this season and is incredibly encouraging of others. We are incredibly proud of the player she has become and are so happy to have her for one more season. We expect her to break quite a few school records for us by the time she graduates."
Dana Kiszkowski SchaumburgKiszkowski is the Saxons' right side hitter -- with the powerful left-handed swing. And the senior's powerful swing produced 184 kills during the regular season. "Dana is our strongest player on the team and a six-rotation player," said first-year Schaumburg coach Tim Murphy, who guided the Saxons to a Mid-Suburban West co-championship. Kiszkowski was about more than putting down kills, too. She was the Saxons' best blocker, collecting 43, and also served 39 aces and stopped up 141 digs. "Dana hits a heavy ball and has adjusted to attacking a flat/low back set," Murphy added. "That has been very effective."
Kristina Loznjakovic Conant With the graduation of Loznjakovic, Conant coach Drewann Pancratz will miss the services of a true leader. "She continuously exemplifies what it means to be a Conant volleyball player and has been a tremendous role model for our under levels," Pancratz said of the three-year starter. "Her leadership, work ethic, love for the game and competitive nature will truly be missed next year." Loznjakovic handed out 110 assists this fall and put down 115 kills. "She is an extremely versatile athlete who can really play any position on the court," Pancratz added. "Her work ethic and love for the sport has developed her into an outstanding volleyball player who never goes unnoticed."
Jess Mazur FremdThe softball star can light it up on the volleyball court, too. Mazur, who has committed to Georgia Southern for softball, put down 71 kills (team-high .333 hitting efficiency) to finish with 107 for her career. She served 24 aces this fall (38 for her career). The senior middle hitter led Fremd with 38 blocks. "Jess was the intensity of our team," said Vikings coach Curt Pinley. "Her best attribute, though, was the way she conducted herself in practice and in matches. She has always been focused on the task at hand. Jess is that athlete who will try to outwork or out-hustle her teammate at practice, or an opponent on the court. Her focus in matches or at practice are one and the same. It was a pleasure to have her as a two-year starter in the middle. Her presence and her intensity will be missed next season. I look forward to follow her success during the softball season this spring and in her college career."
Megan Meredith ProspectWhen it came to blocking, Meredith was one of the best in Prospect history. The 6-foot senior middle hitter set a school record as a junior when she collected 10 blocks in one match. For her two years on the varsity, Meredith had 144 blocks along with 258 kills and 26 aces. "Meghan brought some seasoned hitting to our team this season," said Knights coach Laura Gerber. "She had some great matches with blocks. Her timing is fantastic and obviously she is very tall. But she penetrate the net really well and when the ball is coming she is very good at pushing it back down."
Amy Morgan HerseyMorgan was the glue to that the kept the Huskies together. The senior leader, a three-year starter, was a six-rotation player and second on the team this fall with 214 kills heading into sectional final action. "She used her leaping ability and ability to find holes in the defense to frustrate opponents at the net," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "She excelled in the back row as well with her great desire to frustrate opponents at the net." Morgan had 318 digs (second most on team). "She also brought excellent serve receive," Lill said. A fearless senior, Morgan could often be seen diving for balls or swinging for kills from the back row. She also served successfully at 93 percent with 40 aces, second most on the team. "What a great ride it has been with Amy over the past three seasons," Lill said. "She has worked hard to become the player she is today. She plays with such a passion and desire, which is contagious to her teammates. She as been a key to our success the past three seasons."
Michaela Mueller St. ViatorA mainstay for four years, Mueller entered the postseason with a school record 867 assists and is the all-time leader at Viator with more than 2,200. "Michaela runs our offense and is always leading by example," said Lions coach Charlie Curtin. "She is a tireless competitor that won't stop no matter how exhausted she is." Mueller also had 63 aces, 42 kills, 10 blocks and 218 digs. "She prides herself on her defensive skills while still maintaining her role as the decision-maker on the offensive end."
Kate Nottoli St. ViatorSt. Viator coach Charlie Curtin calls Nottoli one of the most competitive players he has coached. "Her drive to be successful leads to an incredible amount of energy," said Curtin about the junior middle hitter who helped lead the Lions to a regional championship and 26 wins heading into the sectional. Nottoli put down 166 kills with a team-leading .244 hitting percentage. She also had 50 blocks, 62 digs and 23 aces. "Kate enjoys working hard and being pushed to the limit," Curtin said. "She goes 110 percent all the time and is always a positive motivator for her teammates and coaches."
Alessia Olhava HerseyA state finalist high-jumper, Olhava has risen to the top of the list among the best volleyball players in the area. The junior setter had 337 assists in 936 attempts for a .353 setting efficiency. "When Emma encountered back issues, Alessia stepped right in and became our setter," Lill said. "Her speed and ability to get to the ball is second to none." But Olhava proved to be much more than a setter. Her backcourt play was stellar, with her determination to get to any ball resulting in 294 digs. "The saves she can make off bad balls are incredible," Lill said. Olhava served 94 percent with 33 aces. She used her vertical to put down 101 kills and collect 24 blocks. "She is our quickest player on the team," Lill added. "She's a great athlete with a strong vertical jump. Alessia can do it all -- hit, set, pass, play defense to whatever we asked. The great news is that she will be back to run our potent offense next season."
Gabby Paelmo SchaumburgPaelmo is not only a terrific libero but also a standout individual in the eyes of Schaumburg coach Tim Murphy. "Gabby is awesome," the first year coach said. "She could be the best person I know. She is a pleasure to coach and the hardest worker that we have on the team." Paelmo collected 402 digs, 30 assists and 9 aces during the regular season. "Gabby is not afraid to hit the floor," Murphy said. "She can cover a lot of court and moves quickly. Her defense and serve receive have won a lot of matches for us this year. She is a great communicator, positive and loud on the court. The best way to say it is that we are just better when Gabby is on the court."
Ashley Poland Hoffman EstatesPoland followed up an all-area freshman campaign with another stellar season as a sophomore. The talented libero led the Hawks again in digs, recording more than 500 for the second straight season. Poland had 504 digs this fall along with 47 aces as an 84 percent server. "Ashley had another great year coming up with some great digs and leading our team's serve receive," said Hoffman Estates coach Dan Hutton. "She is a vocal leader on the floor and continues to be a leader-by-example type of player. We are very excited to have her to continue her great passing and improve on her numbers for next year."
Beverly Ryan PalatineRyan played a major part in the Pirate' offense this fall, collecting 202 kills and 30 aces. It was her third straight year anchoring the middle for coach Dan Gavin. "Bev took on a huge part of the Pirates' offensive load," Gavin said of the Illinois Wesleyan recruit. "She hit nearly .350. She is off-the-charts-smart offensively and can pick apart opposing defenses, no matter what scheme has been devised to stop her." Her blocking would stymie opposing offenses but the impact of her frontcourt defense went far beyond her 55 blocks. "Bev excels at creating easier defensive opportunities for her backcourt teammates," Gavin said "And while that doesn't show up on a stat sheet, it really is a vital part of getting our transition to offense going."
Jess Rizzo FremdThe Mid-Suburban West co-Player of the Year helped lead Fremd to a Mid-Suburban League title as a junior and divisional co-championship as a senior. This fall, she led the Vikes with 261 kills and 62 aces. She was second in serve receive (20-9-231) and digs (95). "Jess is probably her hardest critic and is always looking for ways to improve her game," said Fremd coach Curt Pinley. "There never was a practice that she wasn't asking about things she could do to improve herself." She finished her career with 261 kills, 62 aces and 175 digs. "I hope she can continue to look within and always be able to ask that question of herself," Pinley added. "It will serve her well in life. "
Jessica Riedl Maine WestOne of the most powerful hitters in the area, Riedl capped off her stellar career with 276 kills this fall. The four-year varsity middle blocker also recorded 78 blocks, 85 digs and 26 aces. The three-time all-conference, all-area player was a team leader on and off the court for the Warriors, who shared the Central Suburban North title this fall with a record of 8-2. "Jessica sets the tone in practice with her great work ethic and attitude," said Maine West coach Mike Cott. "She is a great all-around player."
Macie Robinson Rolling MeadowsRobinson left her name placed firmly in Rolling Meadows' history as the all-time leader in digs, and also for digs in a single season (477). She led Meadows in serving (321-for-364) with 51 aces this fall. "Macie has done an amazing job both on and off the court the past few years," said Meadows coach Joe DiSilvio. "She has been a quiet leader among her peers, giving 100 percent at all times and showing what it takes to sacrifice herself for the team." Robinson was challenged this season to take a more active role in the passing and defensive game. "And she succeeded," DiSilvio said. "She occupies the top four spots of most digs in a match. She will be missed by the Rolling Meadows family but leaves a great legacy for others to try and attain."
Heidi Sayre FremdSayre's first year on the varsity was a big hit as the junior outside hitter put down 147 kills with 28 aces, both second-best on the team. She was 156-of-169 serve receiving, third best for the Mid-Suburban West co champs. "Heidi came into the season with high expectations," said Vikings coach Curt Pinley. "Watching her develop, I believe those expectations were met." Sayre's stats were nearly a mirror image of the Vikes' other outside attacker. "I think that speaks to the type of balance our team had but it also speaks to the confidence the team had in Heidi," Pinley added. "As the season progressed you could see her confidence level rise with each match she played. At the end of the season, I know she felt that her game was a reflection of the hard work she had put in throughout the year. We are fortunate to have her back next season."
Kamila Staniszewski WheelingDespite tearing her ACL during club season, Staniszewski showed perseverance and strength to make it back for the fall season. She missed the first 14 matches and was limited in the next seven to just serving or playing the back row. But once she returned full time (as an all-around outside hitter), her offensive production immediately improved. Staniszewski led the Wildcats in hitting efficiency (.247), kills per game (2.51) and serving percentage (93.8). She finished with 133 kills, 163 digs, 21 aces and 10 blocks. "If she had been healthy for the entire season, I would have expected her to also lead us in kills and aces," said coach Jason Kopkowski. "Kamila is a special player with enormous strength and power. She is a very humble athlete who looks forward to a great senior season. It speaks to Kamila's character to not only come back from her ACL injury but to also be recognized as an all-conference and all-area player."
Morgan Sterrett Schaumburg Sterrett enjoyed a stellar season, being named the Mid-Suburban West co-Player of the Year. The hard-hitting senior collected a team-high 310 kills through the regular season. "Morgan is a great kid with a great work ethic," said first-year Saxons coach Tim Murphy. "She constantly asks meaningful questions and is always trying to improve her volleyball skills and IQ. She is also very competitive." Sterrett also collected 37 blocks, 50 aces and 402 digs. "She shoulders a large load for our team and is our go-to hitter," Murphy added. "Morgan handles adversity well. She was one of our senior captains and emotional leader. She plays outside hitter and has a great combination of ball control, serve receive, defense and blocking. She does it all."
Sarah Straup Fremd With all the hard work she put in as the Vikings' backup setter a year ago, Straup earned her way into the starting role this season. She had honed her work ethic in 2016 and brought it to this fall, collecting 525 assists from 1,392-of-1,424 setting. "Sarah was one of our key spiritual leaders on the team and kept our team in balance," Pinley said. Straup also had 45 kills, 20 blocks and 14 aces. "She was a presence at the net both offensively and defensively with her size and at times could change the momentum of a game with her attack," Pinley added. "As a setter, she always had a leadership role on the court and has the numbers to prove it. As a floor leader and captain though, her best qualities were those that can't be measured on a stat sheet."
Maggie Streckert Buffalo GroveStreckert, only a junior, has also spent two years on coach Matt Priban's varsity club and he is certainly looking forward to a third. Streckert played a huge role in the Bison attack, leading the team in assists (702) and aces (51). She also stepped up defensively by scooping up 188 digs. "As our setter, Maggie was a huge part of our offense," Priban said. " Her composure and leadership helped contribute to the success of our team."
Emma Strozewski HerseyStrozewski was one of the key elements to Hersey's smooth running offense. The 5-11 senior setter has been a three-year varsity starter. As a sophomore she shared time with Maggie Reisel. "Emma was ready to take over the reigns from Maggie this season," said Hersey coach Nancy Lill. "She definitely had an outstanding senior season." Strozewski put up 1,242 sets with 446 assists for a .359 efficiency mark. She is a solid defensive player as well with 177 digs and is deceivingly quick. A strong server, she was 96 percent successful with 15 aces. "Emma has great hands and has the ability to put hitters in an optimal position to terminate," Lill said. "Emma brought a calming influence on our team, never got rattled, and was great with her younger teammates. She was a solid leader and put great effort into developing her game. She gave it all she had for the Huskies despite nagging back issues which would have sidelined many others. Emma has been a big part of our success the past three years."
Val Thomas ProspectWhen it comes to back row play, Prospect fans have become very familiar with the stellar play of Thomas. She has been digging up attacks for the past four years and she will do so at Elmhurst College in the future. "Val has been a great defensive player in our program for four years," said Prospect coach Laura Gerber, whose 5-foot-3 senior collected 385 digs this fall, giving her 907 over the past two years. She also served 23 aces this fall. "Val has been absolutely fantastic. She's been our leader back there the last two seasons. She is so solid. I think she is one of the best liberos Prospect has ever had and I'm so happy to have had her with us."
Peyton Tilly Barrington A three-year varsity player in coach Michelle Jakubowski's program, Tilly was always a force at the net with her fine arm swing that has placed her on the all-area team for a second straight year. As a sophomore, Tilly was second on the team in kills (150) and blocks (35). This year, the 6-2 junior was second again, putting down 185 kills. "Peyton is a force at the net with her ability to block and hit," Jakubowski said. "She is one of the top outside hitters in the state."
Beatriz Verin LeydenWhen Leyden coach Danielle Kowalkowski begins next season, she sure will have to be confident in one position on the floor. The Eagles will have Verin back as their libero. This fall, the junior was as steady as they come, averaging 10 digs a match. She's just as sharp in the classroom, where she is an advanced placement student. "Bea is a great all-around kid,' Kowalkowski said. "And she is an extremely hard worker both on and off the court. She is a very aggressive player defensively and covers a ton of court. Bea was our most solid passer."
Player School Yr. Pos.
Ally Block Maine West Jr. S
Andi Capel Barrington Sr. OH
Eleanor Errico Rolling Meadows Jr. MH
Claure Ferriss Buffalo Grove Jr. OH
*Catherine Hickey St. Viator Sr. OH
Haley Holz Palatine Jr. OH-RS
Jessica Janowski Wheeling Sr. S
Kati Kaburov Hersey So. OH
Rachel Kandefer Elk Grove Jr. MH
Dana Kiszkowski Schaumburg Sr. OPP
Kristina Loznjakovic Conant Sr. S
Jessica Mazur Fremd Sr. MH
Meghan Meredith Prospect Sr. MH
Amy Morgan Hersey Sr. OH
Michaela Mueller St. Viator Sr. S
Kate Nottoli St. Viator Jr. MH
Alessia Olhava Hersey Jr. S-OH
Gabby Paelmo Schaumburg Sr. DS
Ashley Poland Hoffman Estates So. L
Jessica Riedl Maine West Sr. MB
Beverly Ryan Palatine Sr. MH
Jessica Rizzo Fremd Sr. OH
Macie Robinson Rollign Meadows Sr. L
Heidi Sayre Fremd Jr. OH
Kamila Staniszewski Wheeling Jr. OH
Morgan Sterrett Schaumburg Sr. OH
Sarah Straup Fremd Sr S
Maggie Streckert Buffalo Grove Jr. S
Emma Strozewski Hersey Sr. S
Peyton Tilly Barrington Jr. OH
Val Thomas Prospect Sr. L
Beatriz Verin Leyden Jr. L
* all-area team captain
Special mentionSuzanna Andrade de Oliveira (Barrington), Janine Boyan (Hersey), Grace Cacini (Prospect), Emily Campe (Palatine), Michelle Candottti (Schaumburg), Kendall Claffey (St. Viator), Joanne Cho (Conant), Riley Cross (Buffalo Grove), Julia Coniglio (Hersey), Amanda DeLio (Palatine), Mia Farraday (Prospect), Amanda Grzebien (Maine West), Yuri Hara (Conant), Peyton Hooker (Fremd), Natalie Klancik (Rolling Meadows), Tara Kozak (Barrington), Carrie Leazer (St. Viator), Kaylee Liberty (St. Viator), Katie Lindert (Palatine), Bailey Madrzyk (Barrington), Hayley Martin (Hersey), Camryn McGee (Leyden), Megan Murray (Elk Grove), Mary Nowlan (Buffalo Grove), Paige Ramel (Barington), Sophia Saldana (Maine West), Kate Shechtman (Barington), Molly Twohig (Hersey), Juliette van den Herik (Hersey), Jazmyn Veloso (Wheeling)
Selections and profiles by John Leusch