Chemistry at Western Illinois right for Hoffman's Poland

Updated 9/23/2019 7:23 PM

Hoffman Estates girls volleyball coach Pat Moran says Ashley Poland is always providing positive energy to the team on and off the court.

In other words, that means Poland is providing chemistry.


And that also happens to be the subject she will study at Western Illinois, where she will also play for the Leathernecks' Division I women's volleyball team.

"I've always loved science and understanding how the world around me works," Poland said. "I think it's really interesting finding new ways to manipulate materials into improving our everyday lives. Western also offers undergraduate research, which is not something many universities offer."

Poland has offered Hoffman volleyball fans the chance to watch one of the top liberos in the Mid-Suburban League.

"She is a great defender and she constantly keeps our team in matches with her digs and volleyball IQ," Moran said. "I've been looking forward to this final season with Ashley as she will be greatly missed next year. Western Illinois is very lucky to have her as they are getting a very talented player and an even better person."

Poland credits volleyball with making her that person.

She says she is no longer scared to give a presentation, or take charge in a group project.

"My favorite part about volleyball is how it's helped me grow as a person," Poland said. " I've improved my leadership skills and confidence in myself overall, because I needed these skills in order to be successful on the court. The longer I've been playing, the more I realize how much volleyball has helped me in my everyday life."

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For a long time, it was soccer that Poland wanted to play in college. She'd been playing from kindergarten all the way to seventh grade when she began playing volleyball.

"At the time, I only wanted to play volleyball so I could be with my friends," Poland said. "At first, I didn't even make the team and served as the manager.

"I was really frustrated, but I just went into practice every day and really focused, wanting to get better. Before we even started playing matches, I actually was switched to be a player on the team and I fell in love with the sport. It gave me a reason to love coming to school every day."

Her main goal switched from D-I soccer to D-1 volleyball.

She had many different people help her get there.

"My parents have always been extremely supportive, as well as all my coaches," Poland said. "My recruiting coordinator, Lauren Hansen, helped me so much through the recruiting process. I would have been so lost without her. My first coach, Dan Hallman, is the main reason I'm still playing volleyball. He was always helping me improve, and was a huge help for me with catching up to the level of girls who had played several more years than I had."


The highlight of Poland's career came last season at an invite.

"We hadn't won many games and we were playing the No. 1 seed," she said. "In the third set (playing to 15,) we were down 14-6 and came back to win. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was, it's definitely something I'll remember."

Moran and Hawks fans will always remember Poland.

"In addition to being a great athlete, she is a great kid," Moran said. "In addition to being a very talented libero, Ashley is a coach's dream. She is very dedicated to the team and has an incredible passion for the sport."

Two for Topalis

Winona State junior forward Georgette Topalis (Buffalo Grove) found the back of the net twice in a 3-2 triumph at Northern Michigan University.

In the 28th minute of action, Topalis was assisted by Taylor Johnson for her first score of the game.

After the break, the Warriors picked up where they left off in the first half as Topalis tacked on her second goal of the contest in the 56th minute to pad the WSU lead to 3-0 as the Warriors notched their first win of the season.

Women's cross country

Saint Mary's (IN) freshman Julia O'Grady (Prospect) crossed the finish line in 20:08.94 and was 58th out of 156 runners at the 51st annual National Catholic Invitational at the University of Notre Dame.

The Belles placed 11th overall and was third among NCAA Division III programs.

In a previous meet, O'Grady led the Belles with a time of 23:53.2 to place 72nd at the Calvin University Knight Invite. Saint Mary's placed 16th in a field of 24 teams.


Former Hoffman Estates standout catcher Sal Fasano is in his second year on the Atlanta Braves' coaching staff.

He serves as the club's catching coach.

Prior to joining the Braves, he spent the 2017 season in the Los Angeles Angels organization as the manager at Double-A Mobile in the BayBears inaugural season as an Angels affiliate. Fasano led the BayBears to a 64-75 record and a fourth-place finish in the Southern League South division.


Alabama junior wing Thomas Platt (Hersey) dove into the try zone to score the third try of the match for the Crimson Tide in its opening SEC game against Mississippi St. Alabama went on to win 43-23.

Women's tennis

In its first dual meets of the season, Augustana dropped a total of just three matches in wins over North Central (7-2), Illinois Wesleyan (9-0) and Wartburg (8-1). Freshman Lauren Oda (Elk Grove) is holding down the No. 4 singles spot for the Vikings.

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