Collins looks to establish new tradition at Oak Park River Forest

Oak Park and River Forest High School will rely on a senior-heavy roster to build on the foundation established last year under coach Kelly Collins.

“After spending most of the 2016 season creating a brand new competitive culture for Oak Park River Forest, building a program foundation and starting new traditions, the Huskies are ready to raise it up in 2017,” Collins said. “

“The Huskies enter 2017 with a predominately senior heavy roster and with that comes experience, a winning mindset and a sense of urgency,” the coach added. “The Huskies will have a powerhouse offense full of many versatile hitters.”

Leading the offense will be three-year varsity starter Mireya Garcia, a DePaul recruit who had 120 kills and 21 aces in 2016.

“During her second year on varsity, Mireya evolved into one of our starting outside hitters,” Collins said. “Though she only stands at 5-foot-10, Mireya has a 9-foot-8 vertical that allows her to be a deadly factor against components. She is equally aggressive in the backrow with her speed and ability to read hitters.”

Joining Garcia along the net will be 6-2 opposite hitter Ale Sleuwen and middle blocker Zora Barnett. Six-foot-2 sophomore newcomer Natalie Chizzo is also expected to contribute to a strong offense.

Collins is also counting on junior middle hitter Zora Barnett, senior rightside hitter Alessandra Sleuwen and senior libero Sylvia Battersby.

“Playing one of the most competitive conference and non-conference schedules in the state, the Huskies are eager to prove they have what it takes to compete and be successful this year,” the coach said.

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What would De La Salle be without another Duddleston?

Five-foot-9 senior setter/rightside hitter Taylor Duddleston, a two-time Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Red Division all-conference choice committed to Indiana Fort Wayne, is the fifth Duddleston to go thorough De La Salle.

Duddleston’s sisters Jenna and Jillian also played volleyball at De la Salle, and her brother Tommy played football and baseball. Their father is also a De La Salle alumnus.

“Taylor has been a starter on varsity since her sophomore year,” said coach Anna Marie Marassa, who begins her 16th season at the South Side school with a career record of 374-129. “Her court awareness and volleyball intelligence are her greatest assets.

“She not only will set three rotations for us, but will be a key player in our offense,,” Marassa said. “She has also matured into an outstanding defensive player.”

Other top players include 6-foot middle hitter Breana Wayne and 5-9 junior outside hitter Maddy Smith.

“Breana has developed into a solid blocker having only played varsity her junior and senior years and only started playing volleyball as a high schooler,” Marassa said. “Maddy is one of the hardest hitters on the team.  She will be relied upon to be the ‘go-to’ player on the outside.”

Newcomers include 5-8 freshman setter Isabella LaCoco and 5-4 freshman libero Franki Bertucci.

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Rachel Wiatrowski begins her third season as head coach at Lake Zurich looking to build off last year’s 23-11 record including a 5-2 mark in the North Suburban Conference.

The Bears will have to replace Hanna Sweetwood, Lexi Gora and Briana Reitsch from among senior setter Kylie Dykraaf, senior outside Katie Guy, senior middle hitter Mckenna Zobel, and newcomers outside hitter Claudia Kieda and middle hitter Jocelyn Lang.

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