Top Notch 'invites' athletes by offering balance between toughness, 'funship'

Top Notch club director Jen Holliday, a former All-American at Florida and standout at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, knows when it's time to be serious and when it's time to have fun. Top Notch 16-1 setter Megan Becker from Springfield High School. By Randy SharerSpecial to Illprepvb.comSPRINGFIELD – As a measure of coaching excellence, few statistics reveal more than the number of invitations to weddings.Great coaches win, of course, but the best also win when wedding invitations arrive from former players, clear evidence a coach ...

Champions Cup series continues under cloud of uncertainty over what comes next

Neuqua Valley's 5-10 outside hitter Bryanna Jones (76) is one of five newcomers on Sports Performance's 16 Elite team. (Photos by Dave Ruggles) CI Elite 17 Elite's Molly Warner (23) of tiny downstate Williamsfield tries to push the ball between a pair of defenders. Naperville North would have been crazy good this fall. The Huskies still might be this winter or spring. But that’s out of Paige Lauterwasser’s control.“It’s so crazy,” said Lauterwasser, a 5-10 sophomore who played on Naperville North’s 24-13 varsity team in 2019 as a fresh...

Mission not impossible: Fresh faces, coaching staff attract players to new club

Mission Volleyball Club enjoyed a successful competitive debut at the Wisconsin Juniors Pre-Season Kick-Off at the Lake View RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. By Matt Le CrenSpecial to Illprepvb.com Mission Volleyball Club was initially conceived as a rebranding of Club Fusion's branch operation in Marengo before becoming its own entity. If you open it, will they come?That’s the question for anyone thinking of starting a new volleyball club.For Mission Volleyball Club, the answer has been a resounding, “yes.”Over 200 athletes ...

It's back to business (finally) as Champions Cup series gets underway at Great Lakes

Mission 16 Green was among the teams participating in the Champions Cup event last weekend at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center. https://youtu.be/7xLNt1UG5-M They got back to business last weekend for the first of several Champions Cup events at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Aurora.However, it was anything but business as usual.Mandatory masks. A limit of one parent per player allowed inside the facility. No lineup cards. No changing of sides at the conclusion of each game. No handshake lines at the conclusion of each match. No...

Hurlburt finds a way to balance both of his loves – family and volleyball

Former Glenbard East standout Alex Hurlburt helped to establish 630 Volleyball in the western suburbs. He now coaches individuals one-on-one so he can spend more time with his growing family. He sees individual coaching as complementing, not competing with, club volleyball, and works with boys and girls. https://youtu.be/Mk-32b5wX1A By Matt Le CrenSpecial to Illprepvb.comAlex Hurlburt has coached at nearly every level of volleyball during the past six years, from high school to club to college.He has even worked with USA Volleyb...

Tuscola's Kate Dean gets all the motivation she needs from sister, Karli

Kate Dean (left) calls older sister Karli "her best friend." (Cover photo by Douglas Cottle) Karli Dean is now a freshman at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. (Photo by Douglas Cottle) By Randy SharerSpecial to Illprepvb.com TUSCOLA – As they seek to maintain a level-playing field, sports rule enforcers keep an eye on performance enhancers. Kate Dean, however, has surely found a performance enhancing loophole that will never be outlawed in volleyball: her big sister, Karli, a 6-foot-1 freshman middle hitter at the University of...

From here to there and back again: a recruiting nightmare with a happy ending

Amy Schwem (far right) and Lemont won the Silver division championship at the Wheaton Classic during her senior season. (Photos by Dave Ruggles) Amy Schwem led Lemont to a 30-8 record and a regional championship as a senior. By Randy WhalenSpecial to Illprepvb.comSometimes something seemingly very insignificant turns out to be a bit of foreshadowing.Such was the case for Amy Schwem, a four-year varsity setter at Lemont and a second-team Illprepvb.com all-state selection, during Senior Night festivities on Oct. 17, 2019. Her larger-than...

Where are 200+ girls from Illinois high schools and clubs playing D-I volleyball?

Former Nazareth star Ella Sandt took her considerable talents to St. Mary's College of California, a private Catholic college in Moraga, California. The Gaels compete in the West Coast Conference. (Sandt photo by Dave Ruggles. Ally VanEekeren cover photo by Mark Kuhlmann) There are 334 schools that play Division I Women's Volleyball in the United States, including 13 in Illinois. Based on information provided by club directors, Illprepvb.com has identified approximately 235 girls who either played high school or club volleyball in ...

Former U.S. national team star’s turbulent journey takes unexpected turn

Ex-professional football player Nick Tow-Arnett accompanied his wife when she played volleyball overseas. Jessica Tow-Arnett is now the head volleyball coach at Southwest Christian High School in Minnesota. By Matt Le CrenSpecial to Illprepvb.comJessica Tow-Arnett swam in the Caspian Sea, walked the beaches of the Persian Gulf and shared the gospel with people in several Muslim countries during a decade-long career as a professional volleyball player. The former Neuqua Valley star, who was known as Jessica Jones before she married forme...

While we're waiting … here's a sneak peek at some of the top 15s girls' club teams

Springfield Shock 15 Under Armour head coach Bruce Wible said this group has a chance to be “really special.” This is the final installment of Illprepvb.com’s look at some of the top clubs in Illinois in their respective age groups. The 15s are always the most difficult to predict for a variety of reasons. This season, that uncertainty is magnified partly because most 14s experienced a shortened competitive season in 2020, and in some cases, no season at all.However, there are some things we can say for certain.Year in and year out,...