Scouting DuPage County girls volleyball

Addison Trail

Coach: Jill Petrbok (fifth year).

Last year: 14-21 overall, 3-3 in the West Suburban Gold; lost to York 25-3, 25-13 in the Class 4A York regional semifinal.

Top players: JoAnn DiNatale, sr., S; Jennifer D’Onofrio, sr., MH/RS; Marissa Pezzopane, sr., MH; Sabrina Muell, jr., OH; Viviana Hernandez, jr., OH.

Scouting report: The Blazers already were banking on their defense, and that was before Pezzopane went down with an injury. One of three senior starters returning and Addison Trail’s tallest player, Pezzopane will miss 3-4 weeks with an ankle injury. “We’re going to have to play good defense and keep the ball alive,” Petrbok said. “That will be our bread and butter.” Pezzopane brings offense when she returns. DiNatale, chosen team captain, controls the court. D’Onofrio is quick with the block. Newcomer Muell brings offense and a competitive streak. Hernandez is a consistent force on the court who Petrbok said “means business.” It’s an older group, with eight seniors. “We are relying on that knowledge of the game,” Petrbok said.


Coach: Brad Baker (fifth year, 142-18)

Last year: 32-7 overall, 9-1 (second) in the East Suburban Catholic Conference; lost to Hinsdale South 29-31, 28-26, 30-28 in Class 4A Romeoville sectional final.

Top players: Meghan Haggerty, sr., MH; Jenna Jendryk, sr., RS; McKenzie Kuhn, sr., MH: Gabby Pethokoukis, sr., MH: Shannon O’Brien, sr., LB; Annie Ferlman, sr., LB: Mary Kate Whelan, sr., OH: Emily Thron, sr., S; Sarah Jane Pavlik, sr., S; Nora Young, sr., OH; Hannah Kaminsky, jr., S; Madeline Haggerty, so, OH: Brittany Pavich, so., MH.

Scouting report: Few teams will trot out the caliber of hitters Benet will. But can the Redwings get them the ball? Virginia Tech recruit Jendryk and Wisconsin-bound Meghan Haggerty is as good a front-row pair as it gets. Also back in the middle along with Haggerty is Villanova recruit Pethokoukis, who missed all but 10 matches last year. Look out for Haggerty’s younger sister Madeline, a physical outside and one of the best underclassmen in the state. Benet’s biggest question? Who sets its hitters. First-year varsity starter Kaminsky gets first crack. Benet has reached at least the sectional final the last four years, but hasn’t returned to state since 2008. The Redwings no doubt still hunger for their elusive first state title. “If we pass and set,” Baker said, “we can be very good.”

Downers Grove North

Coach: Mark Wasik (fourth year, 58-50).

Last year: 17-19 overall, 2-4 in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Naperville Central 27-25, 25-20 in the Class 4A East Aurora regional semifinal.

Top players: Jessie Tulacka, sr., OPP; Taylor Kasal, sr., S/OPP; Katherine Mahlke, so., OPP; Carolyn Nojiri, jr., DS; Tess Johnson, sr., MB; Gretchen Landego, jr., DS; Hannah Rogoz, jr., OH; Grace Marek, so., OH.

Scouting report: Wasik knew he had a great returning tandem in Tulacka and Kasal. They aren’t disappointing him in preseason practices. Bradley-bound Tulacka, who missed a significant chunk of last season with a concussion, was a “one-lady wrecking crew” at a recent scrimmage. Miami (Ohio) is among schools interested in fellow four-year starter Kasal. Nojiri has the ability to be one of the better liberos around. Mahlke, a 6-1 lefty that “jumps out of the gym” is already getting strong Division I interest. It’s not a deep team, but Wasik likes its talent across the board and said the passion and leadership is “night and day” from a year ago. “We definitely have the capability to play with the big dogs in the area,” Wasik said.

Downers Grove South

Coach: Trisha Kurth (second year, 12-25).

Last year: 12-25 overall, 5-1 (second) in the West Suburban Gold; lost to Benet 25-18, 25-15 in the Class 4A Downers Grove South regional semifinal.

Top players: Kelly Bowe, sr., OH/DS; Kate Pringle, sr., RS; Allison Dec, sr., MH; Cassidy Herrmann, sr., MH; Carlie Serritella, sr., DS; Jessica Pikul, sr., RS; Danielle Conrad, jr., S.

Scouting report: Is this the year the Mustangs get their winning mojo back? Three-time state champion Downers Grove South, which won the West Suburban Gold 14 straight times from 1995-2008, has endured an unheard-of two straight losing seasons. A good senior core is out to change that. Bowe and Serritella both have older sisters who starred for the Mustangs. Conrad returns to run the offense. Pikul is a star defender on Downers Grove South’s soccer team but hasn’t played high school volleyball since her freshman year. The Mustangs lack a legitimate go-to player and will surely be tested with seven matches against teams considered among the top 10 in the Chicago area.


Coaches: Dave Mello and Josh Payton (first year).

Last year: 1-30 overall, 0-12 (seventh) in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to Sandwich 25-22, 25-22 in the Class 3A Sandwich regional quarterfinal.

Top players: Nicole Celarek, so., OH; Taylor Pugliese, sr., OH; Nikki Pochay, sr., OH; Katie Rubright, sr., S; Tina Guarino, so., S; Nicole Susmarski, so., MH; Hannah Wassmann, so., S; Alyssa Ciepley, sr., DS.

Scouting report: Things can get only get better for the Bison, right? Mello, last year’s sophomore coach, and freshman coach Payton take over the reins as ex-varsity coach Eric Melton left the school this month. Fenton won its first match last season, then dropped its next 30. Needless to say, a fresh start is in order. “We’re excited about the opportunity to re-establish the program,” Mello said. Celarek, 6-2 and the lone Fenton girl who plays club, will be the Bison’s primary attacker. Guarino and Wassmann will share setting duties and Mello likes how Susmarski is looking in the middle. It’s a small team short on varsity experience. “We will need a lot of relentless effort and high energy to score points,” Mello said.

Glenbard East

Coach: Marci Maier.

Last year: 8-28 overall, 2-12 in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Metea Valley 25-21, 21-25, 25-22 in the Class 4A Geneva regional quarterfinal.

Top players: Crissy Perez, sr., LB; Gia Perez, sr., S; Lauren Pusinelli, sr., OH; Gariella Roth, sr., OH; Mimi Heim, sr., S; Meghan Hanewall, so., MB.

Scouting report: The Rams took their lumps in 2010. Ten girls returning with varsity experience make Meier believe brighter days are ahead. Maier expects big things from Pusinelli, who put down 158 kills last year with 59 digs and will play all-around. Hanewall, who had 52 kills and 55 blocks, has shown marked improvement and Glenbard East also brings back both its setters and its libero. Maier said the Rams should be defensively sound again, with hopefully a little more firepower. “We’re going to have to battle for everything we get,” Maier said.

Glenbard North

Coach: Jeremy Bradley (second year).

Last year: lost to St. Charles East 25-17, 25-16 in the Class 4A Glenbard North regional semifinal.

Top players: Stephanie Tibiison, so., OH; Desi Dowding, sr., S; Teddi Govedarica, jr., MH; Bri Harn, sr., OH.

Scouting report: A young Panthers team will be a little more inexperienced early on, as Harn will miss the first month or so after knee surgery. Defense and passing are of particular emphasis in preseason practice. Dowding and Tibbison are starters returning. The Panthers are a small team with no players near 6 foot, so they will need to be fast and scrappy to compete. “This year will be a learning experience,” Bradley said. “We’re trying to get some good experience for next year.”

Glenbard South

Coach: Chad Grant (first year).

Last year: 21-14 overall, 11-1 (first) in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to Nazareth 25-14, 25-20 in the Class 3A regional semifinal.

Top players: Kim Deprez, sr., LB; Jane Trzaska, jr., OH; Angie Briggs, sr., MB; Anna Watterson, jr., OPP: Theresa Scheet, jr., DS; Tarah Valdez, so., OH: Laura Quinlivan, jr., MB; Nicole Schutte, jr., S; Riley Mullins, fr., MB.

Scouting report: Grant, the Raiders varsity assistant the last four years and also head boys coach at his alma mater Addison Trail, takes over a young team that boasts plenty of experience. Seven players return, five of them starters, led by 2010 Metro Suburban Player of the Year Deprez. Trzaska, Watterson and Scheet also are back off last year’s conference champs. Briggs’ status is uncertain, as she dislocated her knee during the summer and is also being treated for an irregular heartbeat. Grant calls Valdez a “future star.” Quinlivan is moving from the outside to the middle, and could pair with Mullins in the middle until Briggs is back. The Raiders’ defense and intelligence make up for a lack of size. “Our defense is going to carry us,” Grant said.

Glenbard West

Coach: Pete Mastandrea (sixth year, 101-78).

Last year: 26-11 overall, 1-5 (fifth) in the West Suburban Silver; lost to St. Charles East 25-17, 25-18 in the Class 4A Glenbard North regional final.

Top players: Caleigh Ryan, jr., S; Amanda Perry, jr., OH; Meg DeMaar, so., OH: Megan Waggoner, jr., OH; Julia Waggoner, jr., DS.

Scouting report: “It’s nice to have a setter back,” said Mastandrea, and any coach would echo his sentiments. Especially a setter as good as Ryan, now in her second year setting. Mastandrea calls Ryan a “wizard” with the ball, and “athletic as heck.” Ryan is one of three underclassmen that have the Hilltoppers knocking on the door of the area’s upper-echelon teams. DeMaar started as a freshman. Glenbard West was 20-5 when she went down with a stress fracture. She is healthy now and has the potential to lead the Hilltoppers in digs and kills. Perry is another one to watch on the attack. Mastandrea expects this to be his best defensive team, even with ace libero Tori Clifford moving on to Miami (Ohio). “I think we’re closing the gap,” Mastandrea said.

Hinsdale Central

Coach: Sheralynn Kellough

Last year: 26-12 overall, 4-2 (third) in West Suburban Silver; lost to Hinsdale South 25-23, 22-25, 25-18 in the Class 4A Romeoville sectional semifinal.

Top players: Aly Davis, sr., OH; Meghan McDowell, jr., S/RS: Lucy Crofton, jr., MH/RS: Katie Grabowski, sr., OH: Emily Grasso, sr., RS; Sanne Hilbrich, sr., MH: Ellie VanKeirsbilck, sr., DS/S; Dominique Millett, jr., MH: Lauren Fuller, fr., OH; Coco Bergdoll, jr., DS/OH; Rachel Lendermann, jr., DS: Ashley Marinko, jr., MH.

Scouting report: Kellough doesn’t hold back in praising Michigan-bound outside Davis. With good reason. “I’m a little biased, but I would argue with anybody that she is the best outside in the state,” Kellough said. Davis missed the last few weeks of summer league with a sprained meniscus but is ready to go and will lead a big Red Devils team. How big? Lefty setter McDowell, committed to Virginia, is 6-3 and Kellough said has big made strides in her mental game and composure. Millett, a 6-1 middle, is back after not playing as a sophomore and is ultra-athletic at the net. Grabowski can jump out of the gym even if she isn’t as tall as her teammates. Even without graduated back-row standouts Natalia Skiba and Jamie Netisingha, some are touting this as the Red Devils’ best team ever.

Hinsdale South

Coach: Lisa Martinez.

Last year: 33-7 overall, 8-0 (first) in the West Suburban Gold; lost to Edwardsville 25-17, 25-20 in the Class 4A Normal West supersectional.

Top players: Jessica Brezwyn, jr., OH; Melissa Nava, sr., MH; Sharon Anderson, jr.; Rachel Kent, sr.; Karley Jerden, sr.; Maura O’Donnell, sr.; Emily Mihilkani, jr.; Jackie Adelphia, so.; Catherine Pinas, jr.; Alecia Kroeger, sr.

Scouting report: There’s no short-changing the loss of All-Area outside Danielle Romeo, the emotional leader of last year’s sectional champions. These Hornets have the depth and talent, though, to be right back there. Start with UIC recruit Nava, who enjoyed a breakout junior year. Brezwyn was an AAU All-America with the Sports Performance 16 Elite this summer, and Anderson won a national title with the First Alliance 16 Silver. Keep an eye on Kroeger, transfer from Nebraska who has come far in a short time. “Her ceiling is tremendous,” Martinez said. Martinez loves this team’s depth, and hopes to put it to good use running a more diverse offense. “I want to be the team that is impossible to scout,” she said.

Immaculate Conception

Coach: Jean Field (37th year, 797-447).

Last year: 24-15 overall, 8-2 (tied for first) in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold; lost to Chicago Christian 25-16, 25-14 in the Class 2A Seneca supersectional.

Top players: Kellyanne Remy, sr., MH; Kimmy Martino, so., S; Jennifer Clementi, sr., MH: Liz Martino, jr., S; Emily Hartnett, jr., OH: Kathleen Ryan, jr., LB: Katelyn Conenna, sr., OH: Juliette Ambrogi, sr., MH/OH.

Scouting report: Field, entering her 37th season on the IC sidelines, needs three wins to become the seventh volleyball coach in state history to win 800 matches. Don’t look for the highlights to end there for these Knights. IC lost just two starters from a team that advanced to the 2A supersectional before losing to eventual state champ Chicago Christian. Remy, a three-year starter, is a steady presence who keeps things under control. Ryan enters her third year of varsity at libero. The Martino sisters, who both play for Sports Performance, bring experience in keying the Knights attack. “No use having cannons,” Field said, “if you don’t have cannon-loaders.” Conenna and Hartnett also bring back experience. “I’ve told the kids, ‘The only thing that will get in our way is ourselves,’” Field said.

Lake Park

Coach: Tom Bergen (first year).

Last year: lost to Addison Trail 25-16, 25-13 in the Class 4A York regional quarterfinal.

Top players: Katie Christiansen, sr., S; Alexis Hahn, sr., MH; Emma Jarvis, sr., LB; Shannon Miller, sr., OH; Amanda Ziemek, jr., OH; Nicolette Martino, sr., RS.

Scouting report: The Lancers’ new head coach is definitely not an unfamiliar face around Lake Park. Bergen, entering his 33rd year at the high school, was the boys basketball head coach in the 1980s, coached the freshman girls volleyball team the last several years and has also assisted boys volleyball, track and gymnastics. He takes over a senior-dominant team that knows Bergen from freshman year. Bergen calls Christiansen a tough kid who can “pretty much set the ball where it needs to be set.” Bergen wants Jarvis’ hands on the ball in the back row and hopes she demands it more. Hahn is athletic with good jumping ability. She could be a force provided she stays healthy. Lake Park’s biggest issue? Consistency. “When they are all together and doing things right,” Bergen said, “they can be pretty good.”


Coach: Matt Hrubesky (11th year, 172-151).

Last year: 15-18 overall overall, 5-5 (third) in the Interstate Eight Conference; lost to Aurora Christian 25-17, 25-21 in the Class 2A Plano regional semifinal.

Top players: Vanessa Abenante, sr., OH; Becky Fuys, sr., OH; Darian Payne, sr., MB; Shelby Kretman, sr., MB; Beth Plucinski, sr., RS; Anita Urban, sr., S; Frankie Parillo, sr., LB; Abby Tarasewicz, jr., MB; Summer Stitt, so., OH.

Scouting report: The Lions’ senior-driven group starts with Abenante, a four-year varsity player who led Lisle with 177 kills last year. “Her passing is fantastic, more consistent than ever,” Hrubesky said, “and she is hitting the ball with more authority and control.” Abenante is the centerpiece, but Hrubesky cautions not to sleep on his other kids. Payne, who had 49 kills and 22 blocks last year, has made big strides in the middle, Kretman boasts a much more forceful swing and Fuys is an effective hitter when she can get touches. Hrubesky said his Lions can find success if they stick to their roles and “grind out the defense.” “If we can consistently take care of our ballhandling,” he said, “we’ll be pretty tough.”

Metea Valley

Coach: James Milkert (second year, 16-15).

Last year: 16-15 overall, 3-3 in the Upstate Eight Valley; lost to Batavia 25-12, 25-12 in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

Top players: Jessica Boddy, sr., MB: Alyssa Ensminger, jr., LB; Lexie Lobdell, fr., OH; Brianne Honda, sr., OH; Lisa Hotwagner, sr., S; Ellie Peterson, so., S; Jaeme Crug, sr., RS; Kaylyn Torain, so., MH.

Scouting report: Milkert said “I thought we got everything out of what we had” in Metea’s first season. Expectations are much higher now. Milkert said this group is more talented and athletic, bolstered by several new faces. Pittsburgh recruit Boddy, a 6-3 middle with Sports Performance experience, and Ensminger complement each other well. Lobdell brings a wicked arm swing and the potential to be a terminator on the outside. Hotwagner and Peterson are vying for setting duties, and Milkert calls Crug a “wild card.” “I’d be disappointed if we weren’t in the low 20s in wins,” Milkert said. “The pieces are there.”


Coach: Steve Dowjotas (first year).

Last year: 10-19 overall, 6-7 in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold; lost to Lemont 25-14, 25-15 in the Class 3A Lemont regional semifinals.

Top players: Joyce Balash, so., MH; Monica Loftus, fr., OH; Kyle Hodyl, jr., RS; Natalie Lopez, so., OH; Gianna Spadoni, sr., S; Molly Lucas, sr., LB; Bridget Lucas, so., LB.

Scouting report: Dowjotas, a 2002 Montini graduate who played collegiately at Dominican, takes over at his alma mater. Dowjotas started as the Montini boys volleyball coach last spring and coached the St. Francis freshman girls last fall. Dowjotas, also co-director of the New Wave volleyball club, is most excited about his young base. Thirty-two freshman girls came out for volleyball, with freshman Loftus expected to make a big impact with the varsity. Balash is probably Montini’s top hitter. Dowjotas has high praise for captain Molly Lucas’ leadership skills. Most of the Montini underclassmen are playing club, which hasn’t always been the case in the past. “I’m trying to make a name for volleyball at Montini,” he said.

Naperville Central

Coach: Brie Isaacson (ninth year, 232-82).

Last year: 22-16 overall, 9-3 (second) in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Hinsdale Central 25-17, 25-5 in the Class 4A East Aurora regional final.

Top players: Alysia Baznik, jr., S/RS; Sammy Condon, jr., MB; Nikki Connors, jr., RS; Kendall Ward, jr., OH: Karly Wesolowski, jr., LB.

Scouting report: Isaacson said her Redhawks are “kind of picking up where we left off” last year. That’s a good thing. Naperville Central went undefeated in the DVC the second time through and avenged an earlier loss to Downers Grove North in regionals. Everybody is back, led by third-year varsity player Baznik who will set and hit for the Redhawks. “It looks like she’s found her niche,” Isaacson said. Baznik looks to be more physical and stronger, as does Condon in the middle and Ward on the outside. The Redhawks are a junior-dominant lineup, with 10. “What a difference from sophomores to juniors,” Isaacson said. “They know what it takes now.”

Naperville North

Coach: Jennifer Urban (eighth year, 207-58).

Last year: 20-15 overall, 10-4 (third) in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Lockport 23-25, 25-20, 25-14 in the Class 4A Downers Grove South regional semifinal.

Top players: Madison Murphy, sr., MH; Christine Wu, sr., S; Sami Scroggins, sr., RS; Ashley Crawford, sr., OH; Angie Jurek, so., OH; Ellie Ivancich, so., LB.

Scouting report: There is no substitute for experience — which is why Urban must feel a whole lot more settled about her Huskies now than she did a year ago. Naperville North returns a core of four seniors and two juniors who saw their first significant varsity time last fall. Wu set for the freshman team, played libero with the varsity as a sophomomore and is now back at setter coming off ACL surgery. “She’s the glue that holds us together,” Urban said. Murphy, stronger and quicker, enters her third varsity season. Crawford and Scroggins were teammates on the Sports Performance 17 team. “A lot of our girls last year were young,” Urban said. “Just playing up another year, playing at a quicker tempo should make a big difference.”

Neuqua Valley

Coach: Kelly Simon (11th season, 195-111).

Last year: 21-11, 5-1 (second) in the Upstate Eight Valley; lost to Waubonsie Valley 25-23, 25-21 in the Class 4A Plainfield South regional final.

Top players: Callie Huebener, sr., OH; Leighanne Novak, sr., MH; Kaitlynn Novak, sr., MH/OH; Taylor McKeown, jr., OH; Cassie Collins, sr., S; Brooke Antenen, jr., S; Erin Moran, sr., DS; Lane Anderson, sr., DS.

Scouting report: Simon says Huebener has “improved a ton” since last year, and the DePaul recruit hasn’t yet scratched the surface to her natural ability. “She will get better as the season goes on,” Simon said, “and I think she will just explode in college.” Huebener is one of Neuqua’s core of four returning seniors, joined on the front row by the Western Illinois-bound Novak twins. Kaitlynn Novak, healthy now after shoulder surgery, will be Neuqua’s second middle and play all-around. Collins, unexpectedly thrust into Neuqua’s regional final match, is ready to go now to run a 5-1 offense. Of Neuqua’s 13 players, nine are seniors; it’s a somewhat inexperienced, albeit mature group. “I think we have a solid core,” Simon said.

St. Francis

Coach: Peg Kopec (38th year, 1,060-239)

Last year: 31-8 overall, 11-1 (first) in the Suburban Christian Conference Blue; lost to Joliet Catholic 11-25, 25-20, 25-18 in the Class 3A Rosary sectional final.

Top players: Daiva Wise, sr., MB; Carly Warner, sr., S; Grace Churney, RS; McKenna Kelsay, jr., S; Mary Boeken, fr., MB; Michelle McLaughlin, jr., OH; Haley Gable, sr., OH.

Scouting report: It was no secret where St. Francis was going for its kills the last two years, what with Kelsey Robinson and Meg Vonderhaar roaming the outside. Expect the Spartans to turn to the middle this fall. With the last two Daily Herald All-Area captains now in college, it’s Toledo recruit Wise who is St. Francis’ big hitter. “Daiva has improved markedly,” Kopec said. Wise will be joined in the middle by 6-1 freshman Boeken, the third Boeken sister to suit up at St. Francis. Cincinnati recruit Warner, who sat out last year after transferring from Naperville North, will run a 6-2 with Kelsay, the younger sister of former Spartans standout Kristen Kelsay. “She’s feisty,” Kopec said of the younger Kelsay, “and very competitive.” Kopec said to expect a more balanced offense. “A lot will depend on our passing,” Kopec said. “When you have strong middle hitters you have to get that ball to the setter.”

Timothy Christian

Coach: Lindsey Van Schepen (third year, 47-28).

Last year: 23-14 overall, 9-3 (second) in the Metro Suburban Conference; lost to Immaculate Conception 17-25, 25-23, 25-18 in the Class 2A Immaculate Conception regional final.

Top players: Jordan Smits, sr., OH: Makenzie Vos, sr., MH: Linnea Venhousen, sr., RS; Cassidy Block, sr., DS; Jenna Lodewyk, so., S.

Scouting report: Van Schepen sounds like many coaches this time of year. “This team is learning to find its identity,” Van Schepen said. That can only come with match experience, especially with Timothy Christian graduating eight seniors. Chief among those back is Smits, a quick and powerful hitter with a great vertical leap. Vos returns in the middle where she continues to learn how to use her strength. Block replaces all-conference libero Elise Biesboer and is a vocal leader in the back row. “I hope we will be strong defensively,” Van Schepen said. “That’s where the game starts.”

Waubonsie Valley

Coach: Kristen Stuart (fifth year, 99-45).

Last year: 27-11 overall, 6-0 (first) in the Upstate Eight Valley; lost to Benet 19-25, 25-17, 25-15 in the Class 4A Romeoville sectional semifinal.

Top players: Lisa Studnicka, sr., OH: Rachel Minarick, so., S; Lauren Clarke, sr., LB; Geena Mancuso, sr., DS; Brittany Rampersad, sr., MH: Jackie Pedersen, sr., OH: Lauren Lindell, jr., RS.

Scouting report: To those expecting Waubonsie to take a step back after graduating several key pieces off a conference and regional champ, Stuart said not so fast. “We have club players ready to step in to bigger roles,” Stuart said. “We still have a lot of talent here.” Northern Michigan recruit Studnicka, Waubonsie’s second outside last year, steps in as go-to hitter. Minarick, who hit right-side for Waubonsie as a freshman, will now set in a 6-2. Minarick has drawn interest from the likes of Notre Dame and Marquette. Clarke is an accurate passer and capable of covering the whole court with her speed. Rampersad is a strong blocker recently committed to Winthrop. “We need to win the matches we’re supposed to and peak at the right time,” Stuart said.

West Chicago

Coach: Kris Hasty (18th year).

Last year: 30-8 overall, 12-2 (first) in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to St. Charles East 30-28, 25-18 in the Class 4A Bartlett sectional semifinal.

Top players: Julia Conard, sr., OH; Payton Bayless, sr., S; Andrea Skipor, jr., MH: Kayla Katarynski, jr., LB: Nora Palermo, jr., OH; Mary Kate Katarynski, so., S.

Scouting report: What will West Chicago do for an encore? Last year was a banner year for the Wildcats, who won their first 26 matches and their first DVC volleyball championship in 31 years. Conard is back to lead the defense of that title. The Illinois recruit is one of the area’s best all-around talents, an explosive hitter also outstanding in the back row. There are big shoes to fill in the middle, where Emily Paschke and Kathy Fletcher graduated. Skipor is a big block at 6-3. Bayless is back at setter as is Kayla Katarynski at libero. Expect a close battle for the DVC between the Wildcats, both Naperville schools and West Aurora. “We are ready to work,” Hasty said.

Wheaton Academy.

Coach: D.A. Nichols (sixth year, 120-56).

Last year: 13-17 overall; lost to Lincoln-Way West 32-30, 25-14 in the Class 4A Lemont regional semifinal.

Top players: Jennifer Schmitz, sr., S; Renatta Gorski, sr., RS; Abby Burdett, sr., MB; Jessie Garmon, sr., LB; Bianca Cifaldi, jr., OH; Jessica Bosse, fr., DS; Sydney Vischer, fr., OH; Brianna Tellschow, so., MB.

Scouting report: There is an air of uncertainty around the Warriors, and it isn’t just because they are moving over to the other division of the Suburban Christian Conference. Wheaton Academy graduated nine seniors, chief among them Molly McCoy, now at UIC. “I really don’t know a whole lot about this team yet,” Nichols said. Nichols does know that Cifaldi, she of Sports Performance pedigree, will step in as the go-to hitter. Schmitz, Gorski and Burdett are others returning. Vischer is the third member of her family to play for Nichols. “This team has a lot of growing up to do,” Nichols said.

Wheaton North

Coach: Carole Kristensen.

Last year: 11-19 overall, 6-8 (fifth) in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to Geneva 22-25, 25-15, 25-22 in the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.

Top players: Katie Thornton, sr., S; Libbie Casey, sr., MH; Becca Smith, sr., MH; Christina Wilke, sr., DS/LB; Hannah McGee, jr., MH/RS; Ali Royer, jr., OH; Kendra Arenkill, jr., OH.

Scouting report: What’s priority No. 1 for Wheaton North? Keeping Katie Thornton healthy. Thornton missed time with a broken finger two years ago and went out with a knee injury last fall. Fingers crossed, she’s healthy now. “She’s a workhorse and can run anything,” Kristensen said. “Just a fantastic setter.” Wilke, a pleasant surprise early, could slide in at libero. Casey and Smith return in the middle. McGee, who transferred from Plano, is the granddaughter of former Wheaton Central boys basketball coach Don McGee. Kristensen likes her raw talent. “I’m very excited just to get going,” Kristensen said.

WW South

Coach: Bill Schreier (11th year, 267-105).

Last year: 16-20 overall, 6-8 (fifth) in the DuPage Valley Conference; lost to St. Charles North 25-16, 25-19 in the Class 4A regional.

Top players: Kate Phalen, sr., OH; Stephanie Budlong, jr., OH; Krysta Watts, sr., OPP; Desirae Ranberg, sr., MH; Jessica Bossmann, jr., S; Talla Holze, so., OPP/S; Sammy Granger, jr., MH; Zoe Weber, jr., OH; Rayanna Becker, sr., OPP: Kathy Mummah, jr., DS; Lily Kelly, jr., DS; Erin Staunton, fr., MH.

Scouting report: Coming off a rare losing season — WW South’s first under Schreier — the Tigers are out to prove the previous seven years were the norm and not the exception. Phalen, in her fourth varsity season and a two-year starter, is the cornerstone. She put down 231 kills with 190 digs last year. Budlong, Watts, Ranberg and Bossmann are other returning starters. Bolstering that core are several newcomers from a strong JV team that took third in the DVC. “This is a team with something to prove,” Schreier said.


Coach: Sue Bower (eighth year, 104-139).

Last year: 8-24 overall, 2-4 (fifth) in the West Suburban Gold; lost to in the Class 4A regional.

Top players: Andrea Enda, sr., S; Lizzy Kalal, sr., RS; Colleen Lydon, sr., MB/RS; Marissa Klaassen, jr., MB; Maddie Arnold, so., LB; Becca Sullivan, so., OH/MB; Joanna Conley, so., OH; Kelsey Linnig, fr., S.

Scouting report: Graduating five seniors that made up the core of last year’s team, another rebuilding season is expected in Villa Park. It’s a young group. One of three key seniors, Enda, was one of Willowbrook’s setters last year and had 152 assists and 34 digs. Kalal played primarily defense as a junior and Lydon was the backup right-side. Arnold, who had 178 digs as a freshman, will be looked upon to lead the defense. Sullivan had 31 kills as a freshman and moves outside. “We have potential,” Bower said, “but we need to work hard to bring it all together.”


Coach: Patty Iverson (seventh year, 156-70).

Last year: 34-6 overall, 5-1 (second) in the West Suburban Silver; lost to Lyons Twp. 25-16, 16-25, 25-12 in the Class 4A state semifinal.

Top players: Caroline Rose, sr., OH: Sam Schrenker, sr., MB; Katie Gallagher, sr., S; Morgan Semmelhack, sr., MB/RS: Melissa Deatsch, jr., OH; Amy Nosek, so., OH; Molly Schlecht, so., MB.

Scouting report: The Dukes made their first-ever trip to the state tournament last year, taking fourth in Class 4A. They could be the team to beat this fall. Five starters return, four of them seniors committed to Division I schools. Western Michigan recruit Rose is a 5-6 dynamo with 335 kills last year, West Point-bound Schrenker and Kent State recruit Semmelhack are a strong pair of middles and Iowa State-bound Gallagher is perhaps the most talented setter in the area. Deatsch, second in kills last year, is another strong hitter. The Dukes will be tested with a tough schedule that includes Marist, Hinsdale South and Benet. Surely the date the Dukes have circled, though, is with last year’s 4A champ Lyons Township, who handed York three of its six losses last year. “If we play as hard as we can and do our best the rest of that stuff will take care of itself,” Iverson said.

— Joshua Welge