Cook and Lake County girls volleyball notes: Basketball star O'Riordan making impact in a second sport at Barrington
Barrington's state-ranked girls volleyball features more than a handful of players with experience of playing in the Class 4A state finals where the Fillies' placed third the last two seasons in Normal.
This season, they've added another player with state experience from another sport.
Senior middle hitter Molly O'Riordan was a top performer for the school's girls basketball team in 2022 when it was runner-up to Stevenson.
O'Riordan, who played on the underlevel girls volleyball team as a sophomore, returned to the program this fall.
She committed to Dayton's women's basketball team this summer.
"My (basketball) recruiting at this time last year was a little bit busier so I did not play volleyball as a junior," O'Riordan said. "I was just focusing more on basketball. This fall, I have a little more free time and I am just trying to do something fun with all my friends. I just want to have a blast my senior year."
And so far that's what's it been as the Fillies are off to a 14-2 start and 3-0 in the Mid-Suburban West.
With O'Riordan on board, Barrington now has five future Division I athletes. Gwen Adler (Seton Hall), Jenna Meitzler (Iowa), Berkeley Ploder (Georgetown) and Hope Regas (Grand Canyon for beach) are all committed for volleyball.
Fillies senior defensive specialist Sarah Jensen is a Calvin University pledge.
"We're a senior-dominated team," said Fillies coach Michelle Jakubowski, who owns a 205-130 record in 10 seasons as the Fillies head coach. "I'm proud of the girls. They work incredibly hard. I just think they have a belief when they take the court that we're not going to lose, we're not going to let that happen. It's an amazing group of girls. It's an honor to coach them."
And O'Riordan is excited to be part of it.
"There is definitely a lot of state experience on this team," she said. "Hopefully we can make it back there again. I was there both times as a fan and watching it was really exciting. Last year, I went down there with a bunch of the basketball players and we just had a blast."
And that is exactly what she is doing.
"Making my commitment definitely was a weight off my shoulders and partially why I am playing volleyball this season," she said. "I don't have any pressure anymore and I'm just trying to have fun my senior year. Hopefully, volleyball goes well and then into basketball season."
Mustangs making noise:
In just his second season running the program, Caleab Campbell has the Mundelein girls volleyball program on the Lake County map.
After going 15-16 last fall, the Mustangs are off to an impressive 10-4 start this season.
"The girls are igniting excitement and pride in their community as they continue their remarkable journey of success," Campbell said. "With unwavering determination and impeccable teamwork, the team has surged forward with an impressive nine-game winning streak. As they fight to carry on this remarkable streak, they're proving that hard work and unity can lead to success."
Campbell says his players are contributing in unique ways to show their willingness to learn.
"And their determination to be successful is what it is going to take to continue to put Mustang volleyball playing with the ranks of top teams in the North Suburban Conference and Class 4A volleyball," he said.
MSL East leaders:
Hersey coach Laura Gerber has the Huskies leading the Mid-Suburban East with a 4-0 record.
After winning their own invite with a 5-0 record last Saturday, they are 12-4 overall.
"Eileen Chavez is doing a great job running a 5-1 for us this year," Gerber said. "She already has 189 assists in 10 matches. Leah Nawrot (60 kills) and Erin Del Riva (55) are playing well as our outside hitters.
"Our defense is super solid with Elizabeth Avirmed at libero and Sofia Phillips and Sofia Rizzo as defensive specialists."
After Carmel's first 16 matches, senior middle Abbey Sullivan led the team in kills (90) and blocks (37).
"Her net presence has made a huge impact," said Carmel coach Dave Pazely. "And that is something our opponents have struggled to deal with,"
Pazely said senior libero Isa Swiatkowski doesn't have the big plays that get all the attention at the net but has anchored the team defensively and kept it organized on and off the floor.
She leads the team in serve-receive (2.03) and digs (169).
"She puts up a great second ball when we're out of system and drives opponents crazy with how much ground she can cover defensively." Pazely said. "Now that Isa is back to 100% health she is playing at an even higher level and elevating the team as a result."
Senior setter Claire Parker, a Plymouth commit, has been running a 5-1 and already has 230 assists, along with 24 kills, 20 aces and 17 blocks.
"She has run a balanced offense and made some great decisions for critical sideouts," Pazely said. "She is hard to read which opens up hitting lanes at both pins helping our hitters be more successful."
Rolling Meadows senior Lucy Pufundt has continued to play at a very high level and is averaging 12 kills a match.
Also, libero Jelena Jevtic has provided the Mustangs with fantastic defense and passing from the back row which has allowed setter Carmen Powers to run the offense.
"Several different players are providing offense for us across the front row which has made our offense very dynamic," said first-year Meadows coach Jack Nickle. "We've been dealing with some injuries but we have had some players step into starting positions and play huge roles for us."
St. Viator coach Charlie Curtin says his Lions are having an 'up and down' season, currently at 9-10.
Junior middle hitter Sydney Mittel was leading the team with a .484 hitting percentage when she was sidelined with a knee injury.
Erin Lynch has accumulated 139 kills as a sophomore outside hitter while Alexis Horn is leading the team with 19 aces and is second on the team with 87 kills as a junior outside hitter.
Avery Albritton is another sophomore who currently has 71 kills and 22 blocks as a right side hitter Junior libero Lucy Drake paces the back row and had 83 digs through last week.
Junior setter Paige Oberbroeckling leads the Lions' 6-2 offense with 145 assists.
"We are continuing to work each day to get better and build on the foundation," Curtin said. "Our team is very young but learning to play at the varsity level each day."
On the mend:
Elk Grove coach Tara Braceros dealt with some injuries early in the season.
"After having multiple players out due to injury, we have some key players back in key places," she said. "Our libero (Emma Gomez) is back and contributed in a huge way during our three-set set loss to BG (Gomez had 16 digs, 1 ace and 2 kills)."
Freshman starting middle hitter Angelica Dylag has led the Grenadiers in kills, blocks and hitting percentage. She is also second on the team in aces.
Senior setter Reese Gbur came back after missing two weeks due to injury.
"We are excited to have her leadership back on the court as well as her ability to run our offense," said Braceros, whose team defeated Leyden in three sets, coming back from a 20-10 deficit in the third set to win 27-25.
The Grens also went three sets with Palatine, rallying from a 10-0 deficit to win the second 25-22 before falling in three.
Conant coach Drewann Reibel has 10 seniors leading the Cougars this fall.
"Our middles, Eva Krakowski and Olivia Hopkins, have made a huge impact on the court causing teams to constantly be aware of them," Reibel said. "In addition, Colleen McManamon has stepped up tremendously as a leader on the court. Together their leadership and competitiveness is the driving force of this team."
The Hawks are enjoying a 14-6 start, 2-2 in the MSL West.
Through the Hawks' first 19 matches, Peyton Young led the team with 135 kills.
"Izzy Troyer (second on the team in kills, digs, serve-receive and aces) has really stepped up this season with her leadership and overall play," said Hawks coach Pat Moran.
Bhavya Muthu has 144 digs and 29 aces while Phoebe Kim has surpassed 300 assists.