Girls volleyball: After playing club in spring, Worden brings big boost to South Elgin

  • Alyssa Worden led South Elgin in 2019 with 315 kills. She's back for her junior season this fall after playing club volleyball as a sophomore.

    Alyssa Worden led South Elgin in 2019 with 315 kills. She's back for her junior season this fall after playing club volleyball as a sophomore. Courtesy of Alyssa Worden

 
 
Updated 8/21/2021 8:07 AM

Moving the 2020 high school volleyball season to March and April put players in a difficult spot.

That's normally a key time of year for club volleyball. With high school volleyball being held at the same time, many players had to choose between the two, or try to play both.

 

Alyssa Worden, then a sophomore at South Elgin, came to the Storm's first practice in March to tell coach Joni Plach she would not be playing for her high school team.

"It was a really hard decision to make because I was really looking forward to the high school season of playing with my friends and playing for South Elgin," Worden said. "It wasn't an easy decision, it really wasn't. It was more of a last-minute thing. I went to talk to Joni and said I apologize for this and she said she understands."

Plach wasn't upset at Worden -- or any player who decided to play club. Storm senior defensive specialist Emma Hunter also chose to play club volleyball.

Worden got a chance to play up on the Sports Performance 18-year-old team, which she said proved to be a good decision.

"I improved my individual development and that helped me long-term more with recruiting," said Worden, adding playing with older teammates helped her volleyball IQ.

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"It turned out really well. It was very challenging for me but I think I improved a lot from it. Made me better as a player, gave me better leadership skills, definitely improved my play and I got a lot of college looks at nationals, and we did pretty well at nationals."

Plach said Worden originally registered to play volleyball at South Elgin last spring.

"I was actually surprised to see her name on the list," Plach said. "I knew some clubs in the area were taking a six-week pause and some were not. I did not want Alyssa nor any other player trying to do both club and high school at the same time. I feel that it puts too much of a strain on their bodies and they need time to do school work. I knew Sports Performance had some national tournaments set up for the time high school volleyball was going to go on. The IHSA had some quick decisions to make about when seasons were going to be and clubs could not wait on those choices."

Plach appreciated Worden coming to tryouts to tell her she wouldn't be playing high school.

"Alyssa got a lot of college exposure by staying with club and not doing high school," Plach said. "I told her I respect her choice and she needed to do what was best for her future. I was sad but not mad at her choice to play club. I'm very excited to see what she does on the court her junior year."

Worden is back playing for South Elgin this fall. As a freshman, she led the Storm's Upstate Eight Conference championship, 28-win team in kills with 315 and aces with 54.

Worden said her goals include conference and regional titles, and taking aim at the school wins record the Storm set her freshman year.

"I'm super stoked," Worden said. "It's great to play with my friends. Most of my friends are seniors and it's going to be their last year so I'm hoping they go out with a bang. I'm going to contribute as much as I can and I hope everyone can do the same. I'm really pumped because we have a lot of good players this year and I have good hopes. I think we are going to do really well. I'm glad to be back and ready for a good experience."

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