Scouting girls volleyball in Lake County
Here's a look at the 2021 spring girls volleyball season in Lake County.
Top returning athletes: Maiah Moll (Antioch, Sr., S), Grace Regnier (Antioch, Sr., MB), Annika Lindstrom (Antioch, Jr., MB), Hannah Benes (Antioch, Jr., Libero), Courtney Levy (Grant, Sr., Libero), Anelise Johnson (Grant, Sr., MB), Jazzlyn Linbo (Grant, Sr., MB), Annie Bart (Carmel, Sr., OH), Riley Clark (Carmel, Sr., RS), Milana Moisio (Carmel, Jr., Libero), Amanda Holsen (Stevenson, Jr., OH), Emerson Kouri (Stevenson, Sr., Libero), Emma Potocki (Stevenson, Sr., MB), Ella Schaffnit (Libertyville, Sr., OH), Kellie Hopper (Libertyville, Sr., OH), Olivia Sauers (Libertyville, Sr., DS), Alannah Howell (Libertyville, Sr., DS), Paula Ceneac (Lakes, Sr., MB), Molly Reuland (Lakes, Sr., OH), Devinn Bell (Lakes, Sr., S), Allison Stover (Lakes, Sr., DS), Marissa Gulley (Grayslake Central, Sr., OH), Cailin Hawn (Grayslake Central, Sr., Libero), Alyssa Gerzel (Grayslake North, Sr., OH), Jessica Pozezinski (Grayslake North, Sr., OH), Emily Bongiovanni (Grayslake North, Sr., MB), Chelsea Wialliams (Lake Zurich, Soph., OH), Jarynn Hartmann (Lake Zurich, Jr., OH), Gabrielle Brewer (Warren, Soph., S), Kendal Crawford (Warren, Jr., OH), Ellie Columbus (Warren, Sr., Libero), Kylie Jasnoch (Warren, Sr., DS), Abbie Wizniewski (Vernon Hills, Sr., S), Daniella Jarrell (Vernon Hills, Sr., MB), Elli Amjadi (Vernon Hills, Soph., Libero), Vicki Zoltowska (Wauconda, Sr., OH-RS), Delaney Lemay (Wauconda, Soph., OH), Mackenzie Arder (Wauconda, Jr., OH-MB)
Top teams: Antioch, Carmel, Grayslake North, Lakes, Libertyville, Stevenson
Season outlook: On the North Suburban Conference front, NSC co-champ Libertyville and coach Greg Loika return almost all of their lineup from a 2019 group that finished in the final eight in Class 4A, with all-NSCers Schaffnit and Hopper (Colorado College) combining to hammer home 450 kills, and Sauers and Howell anchoring the back line. Setter Payton O'Brien graduated in January and is now at Syracuse. "We will be super-experienced on defense and on the pins," Loika said. "We have the weaponry to be lethal from all over the court, which will make us hard to defend."
Stevenson tied for the NSC title with Libertyville, but has only 3 starters returning in junior star Holsen (451 kills, 252 digs), along with senior libero Kouri (382 digs) and senior middle Potocki (111 kills, 102 total blocks). "We have a number of hitters and more length than the past few years," Stevenson coach Tim Crow said. "If our first and second contacts are solid, we should be able to do some nice things."
Lake Zurich has 7 returners back from an 11-win squad. Wialliams led the team in kills as a freshman. "We will come back with some serious force," Bears coach Rachel Wiatrowski said. "We are definitely young, however our IQ has improved, ball control has improved and these girls are very motivated to make big improvements."
Warren (19 wins in 2019) has three starters back with Columbus, an all-NSC selection after posting 311 digs as a junior, leading the way. "We have a lot of talent across the board, and everyone is very capable of playing all around," Blue Devils coach Yun Chen said. "These are extremely smart kids who have picked up things quickly."
Lakes won the 2019 Northern Lake County Conference title (7-0) and 23 overall matches with all-conference picks Bell (663 assists, 80 kills, 44 aces) and Stover (243 digs, 43 aces) rock-solid at setter and in the back row, respectively. "We have a number of defensive-minded players returning this season, and the impact they can have on the game will provide opportunities for us to be successful," Lakes coach Sarah Yeager said.
Antioch has 5 starters back from a 23-win team, headlined by 2019 All-Area pick and three-year varsity player Benes (387 digs) and the Lake Forest College-bound Moll (652 assists, 51 aces). "We have a solid base of strong hitters -- each hitter can hit with power and accuracy, and our setter can run a fast offense," Sequoits coach Greg Bruns said. Regnier will play at Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Along the same lines, Grant also returns 5 starters from a 17-win team with Levy (Benedictine University, 291 digs) and Linbo (197 kills, 63 blocks) earning all-NLCC honors in 2019, and Johnson (116 kills, 42 blocks) providing quite the tag-team punch in the middle with Linbo. "The team wants to win conference," Grant coach Michele Keenan said. "We are disappointed, as I am sure all teams are, that we do not get a postseason, so the girls have put their eye on the conference. We hope to provide an intense and fun season for everyone on the team."
Grayslake North, with 5 starters back, won 25 matches and a regional title in 2019. The Knights return the program's career most prolific terminators in Gerzel (program all-time leader) and Pozezinski (No. 2 on list), who also is the owner of the best serve-receive percentage in school history.
Gulley is the only returning starter for Grayslake Central (16 wins in 2019), which has a new coach in Arian Colton.
Wauconda sophomore Lemay was an all-NLCC pick in 2019, and is one of 4 starters back. "Playing-wise, we, of course, hope to be conference champs this year," coach Sarah Kawa said. "Titles aside, our main goals are to give our seniors the season they deserve, and set the foundation for this young team going into our season next year."
East Suburban Catholic entrant Carmel has 5 starters back from a 33-win squad with Bart (Binghamton), Clark (North Central) and blue-chip defensive recruit Moisio earning All-Area accolades two falls ago. Junior setter Julia Shrofe was injured as a sophomore and is back ready to roll. "We have high hopes for the team, but there are so many variables out of our control," Corsairs coach David Pazely said. "We are all happy volleyball is back in our lives, and that we get the chance to compete. The mental health aspect needs to be our top priority. With that, I am sure this crew will push hard to get results on the court."
Six of the eight girls who were in Vernon Hills' starting rotation at the end of the 2019 season return. Amjadi was all-Central Suburban North in 2019. "This program has seen its win total go up every year these girls have been in high school, and that total would likely go up again if we had a full schedule," Cougars coach Chris Curry said. "Since we don't, we just want to soak in every moment, love the fact that we get to play, and win as many as we can."
Did not submit information: Mundelein, Round Lake