Paris burning for a shot in Class 2A, Foxes jump into the Prairie fire, & 21 more

After a successful run in the now-defunct Northern Illinois Big 12, Yorkville joins the Southwest Prairie Conference for 2019. continues its coverage of the 2019 Illinois high school girls’ volleyball season with another set of team previews.

School: Christopher
Conference: Black Diamond West
Head coach: Adam Rosoho
Last season’s highlights: 9-24 overall, 5-7 in conference, lost to Woodlawn, 25-13, 25-14, in a Class 1A regional semifinal.  
Top returnees: 5-9 junior outside hitter Shianne Dejear (27 kills in 58 attacks in nine games before injury in 2018), 5-4 junior libero Sydney Yosanovich, 5-5 senior rightside hitter Lily Winget, 5-1 junior setter Courtney Salatas (155 assists in 27 games).
Top newcomers: 5-7 sophomore rightside hitter Grace Gossett, 5-10 freshman middle hitter Mikaela Robbins.
Coach’s quote: “I believe we will be competitive in every game this season. Our conference is balanced, and I feel anyone could beat anyone on any given night. We lost five seniors and another player who decided to play golf, but return eight players who contributed nightly last year including Shianne Dejear, who missed the last 24 matches of the season due to injury.  We are shorter up front this season, but they have more determination and fight in them.”
Outlook: A healthy Dejear should help Christopher contend in the conference where Trico and Chester are the favorites.  

School: Clifton Central
Conference: Sangamon Valley
Head coach: Amber Boudreau
Last season’s highlights: 9-22-1 overall, 2-4 in conference, lost to Watseka, 25-9, 25-19, in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees: 5-11 senior middle hitter Emily Gresens, 5-4 senior libero Mady Kleinert, junior setter Kaylie Warpet, 5-8 senior setter Hanna Offerman, 5-7 senior outside hitter Karlie Wilken, 5-10 senior middle hitter Riley Thompson, 5-5 junior defensive specialist Lilly Pierce.  
Top newcomers: 5-9 junior rightside hitter Kaylen Boudreau, 5-11 sophomore middle hitter Laney Bottorff.

School: Columbia
Conference: Cahokia
Head coach: Elysia Sepich
Last season’s highlights: 19-16-1 overall, 6-3 in conference, lost to Belleville Althoff, 25-14, 25-9, in a Class 3A regional championship.
Top returnees: 5-10 senior middle hitter Avrie Barthel, senior libero Kelly Long (249 digs in 2018), 5-8 senior defensive specialist/setter Paige Becker (331 assists, 150 digs), junior defensive specialist Justine Crowell, junior defensive specialist Maci Browne, 6-1 junior outside hitter Ava Khoury, sophomore outside hitter Mackenzie Murphy (154 kills), 6-0 junior outside hitter Olivia Peterson (91 kills, 23 blocks).
Outlook: Columbia graduated three of its top five attackers from 2018 so Sepich will be looking for more offense from Murphy and Peterson.

School: (Marissa) Coulterville
Conference: Cahokia
Head coach: Sarah Richter
Last season’s highlights: 14-19 overall, 4-8 in conference,lost to Trico, 13-25, 25-21, 25-20, in a Class 2A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: senior setter/rightside hitter Paige Hand, senior middle/outside hitter Jacey Weis, junior middle hitter Addie Abrecht, sophomore setter/rightside hitter Bree Portz, senior libero Macey Schreiber, junior outside hitter Emily Smith, junior defensive specialist Casey Daughtery.

School: De La Salle
Conference: Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC)
Head coach: Anna Marie Marassa
Last season’s highlights: 24-8 overall, 3-3 in conference, won De La Salle tournament, finished third at Chicago Christian, Maine East and Elk Grove tournaments, lost to St. Ignatius, 25-17, 27-25, in a Class 3A regional championship.
Top returnees: 5-9 junior setterIsabella LaCoco (all-conference), 5-4 junior libero Francesca Bertucci (two-time all-conference), 5-8 senior outside hitter Nyiah Penny (all-conference), 5-11 sophomore outside hitter Ariana Joubert.
Top newcomers: 5-10 sophomore middle/outside hitter Zoe Watts, 5-9 sophomore middle/outside hitter Amayah Jones.
Coach’s quote: “We return all our key starters from last year’s team, so we aim to win at least a Class 3A regional and sectional.”

East Peoria
Conference: Mid-Illini
Head coach: Laura Moore
Last season’s highlights: 9-18 overall,  4-10 in conference, lost to Peoria Richwoods, 27-25, 16-25, 25-17, in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees: 6-0 senior middle hitter and four-year starter Monique Hoosen, 5-11 junior rightside/middle hitter and three-year starter Brook Huff, 5-2 senior libero and three-year starter Skylar Bouillion.
Coach’s quote: “Most of our starting lineup returns from last year. Our defense and hitters are looking strong. We will be an overlooked team that will come out and surprise our competition.”

School: (West Frankfort) Frankfort
Conference: Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio division
Head coach: Kellie Griffith (first year)
Last season’s highlights: 2-22 overall, 0-10 in conference, lost to Hamilton County, 25-16k 25-19  in a Class 2A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees:
6-0 senior middle hitter Chloe Peavey, senior middle hitter Campbell Brown, 5-9 junior middle hitter Lexi McLaren, junior outside hitter Micah Johnson, 5-5 senior libero Madison Carpenter, junior defensive specialist/setter Kaela Scott, junior outside hitter Hevyn Riddle.
Coach’s quote: “Last season, they didn’t end strong. We are hoping to change that this year. The team is working hard and coming along well.”

Kishwaukee River
Head coach:
Megan Nolen (sixth season)
Last season’s highlights: 3-31 overall, 0-12 in conference, lost to Woodstock, 25-3, 25-6, in a Class 3A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees: senior outside hitterDesiree Brady, senior outside hitter Hannah Saucedo, senior defensive specialist/libero.
Top newcomers: sophomore libero/defensive specialist Nicole Garcia, freshman middle/outside hitter Asha Billstrand.

Illinois Lutheran
Conference: River Valley
Head coach: Ruth Junker
Last season’s highlights: 16-17 overall, 6-6 in conference, won regional championship, lost to Aurora Christian, 25-18, 25-10, in a Class 1A sectional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-1 senior and four-year starter Isabella Biesterfeld. (334 kills, 30 aces, 315 digs, all-tournament at Manteno Early Bird and Lutheran Invitational tournaments, all-conference), senior setter and four-year varsity player Paige Biesterfeld (550 assists, 45 aces, 52 kills, 142 digs), senior middle hitter and four-year varsity player Madison Peters (125 kills, 39 aces, 271 digs), senior libero and two-year varsity player Jessie Moseley (409 digs), sophomore middle/outside hitter Sofia Biesterfeld (127 kills, 35 aces, 15 blocks).
Top newcomers: freshman Stephanie Edwards, sophomores Grace Adickes and Hannah Nagle, freshman Zoe Biesterfeld.
Coach’s quote: “We have most of our positions solid with our returning players, but will have to rely on young players to fill a couple of holes in the lineup. With most of the team returning from last season, we are looking to improve on last season’s record and move up in the conference standings.”
Outlook: Isabella and Sofia Biesterfeld are sisters, as are Paige and Zoe. The four are first cousins. You can never have enough Biesterfelds, but four should be enough to get Illinois Lutheran back to the sectional. 

School: Jerseyville
Conference: Mississippi Valley
Head coach: Toni Goetten
Last season’s highlights: 15-15 overall, 1-8 in conference, lost to Highland, 25-17, 25-14, in a Class 3A regional championship.
Top returnees: senior middle hitter Abby Manns, senior outside hitter Bella Metzler, senior rightside hitter Lauren Rexing, junior setter Clare Breden, junior setter Abigail Droege, junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Sally Hudson.

School: Joliet Central
Conference: Southwest Prairie
Head coach: Vivian Helwich
Last season’s highlights: 10-20-1 overall, 0-9 in conference, lost to Bolingbrook, 25-9, 25-9, in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees: senior outside hitter Olivia Rataczak, senior setter Amilia Arana, junior libero Casie Walsh, junior middle hitter Grace Hallihan (all-conference selection in 2018), sophomore outside hitter Madison Miedona.
Coach’s quote: “We’re looking forward to the 2019 season.”
Did you know? Hallihan was the MVP at the Peg Bryant Tournament hosted by Joliet Central last fall.

School: Kaneland
Conference: Interstate Eight
Head coach: Cynthia Violett
Last season’s highlights: 34-5 overall, lost to Sterling, 25-18, 25-18, in a Class 3A sectional championship.
Top returnees: 5-5 senior libero Grace Vranicar, 5-10 senior outside hitter Grace Franz, senior setter Ava Ohmen.
Top newcomers: 5-10 sophomore setter Megan O’Sullivan, junior middle hitter Jordan Weber, junior outside hitter Samantha Abruzzo, sophomore rightside hitter Madison Buckley.
Coach’s quote: “We’re hoping to be in the running for first place this year in our new conference. We’re a young, talented team.”
Did you know? Kaneland left the Northern Illinois Big 12, which no longer exists, to join some familiar faces in the Interstate Eight.

School: Lake Forest
Conference: North Suburban
Head coach: Tia Rupnik
Last season’s highlights: 16-20 overall, 2-5 in conference, lost to Mundelein, 25-22, 25-22, in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-0 senior outside hitterAlyssa Thrash, 6-0 junior outside hitter Caroline Graham.
Coach’s quote: “Thrash and Graham are both powerful outsides that bring a tremendous amount of offense and defense. We look forward to having a stronger start to the season than last year.”

School: Lincoln-Way Central 
Conference: Southwest Suburban
Head coach: Mary Brown
Last season’s highlights: 23-13 overall,  6-4 in conference, won Oak Lawn tournament, lost to Andrew, 19-25, 25-18, 32-30, in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-0 senior middle hitter Layne Stevens, 5-6 senior setter Nicole Ramirez, 5-10 senior outside hitter Katie Barry, 6-0 senior middle hitter Rachel Kolodziej.
Coach’s quote: “This team is very competitive, extremely scrappy and smart.”
Outlook: The Knights had a solid summer league season and hope to carry that momentum into the regular season.  

School: Minooka
Conference: Southwest Prairie
Head coach: Carrie Prosek
Last season’s highlights: 25-12 overall, 7-2 in conference, won Silver division at Crimson Classic (formerly Crosstown Classic hosted by Plainfield North), won Lyons Township invite, advanced to Gold division at Mother McAuley Asics, lost to Benet, 25-16, 25-23, in a Class 4A regional championship. 
Top returnees: 5-7 senior setter Zoey Seput (three-year starter, committed to University of California-Riverside), 6-3 junior outside hitter Heidi Bonde (University of Central Florida commit, led team in kills in 2018), 5-9 senior rightside hitter Desi Anderson, 6-0 senior outside hitter Holly Kropke, 5-10 senior middle hitter Hailey Sperling, 5-7 senior libero Mia Alessio.
Top newcomers: 6-1 sophomore middle hitter Jada Hampton, 6-2 junior rightside hitter Collette Seidel.
Coach’s quote: “We will be very strong defensively, and with the experience and success we had last year, I see very good things ahead of us.”
Outlook: The Southwest Prairie is loaded and Minooka must contend with Plainfield North, Plainfield Central and West Aurora for league supremacy, then potentially deal again with Benet in the IHSA tournament. But the Indians are more than capable of both.

School: Paris
Conference: Little Illini
Head coach: Christy Pinkston
Last season’s highlights: 18-10 overall, 7-1 in conference (played for the conference championship for the first time in school history), finished fourth at the Shelbyville Invitational, lost to Effingham, 25-18, 25-17, in a Class 3A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-1 senior middle blocker Lizzie Rouse (first team all-conference), 5-9 junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Emma Pinkston (first team all-conference), 5-8 junior setter Payton Block (second team all-conference).
Top newcomer: 6-1 junior middle blocker Kristin Borchers.
Coach’s quote: “The Tigers should have their best season in school history in 2019. After losing to Newton in three sets last season to determine the conference championship, the girls are excited for this season to begin. We are returning with the core nucleus from last season. Setting goals for 2019 hasn’t been difficult. Our first goals will be to end with a 20-win season and a conference championship. The girls worked hard this summer conditioning, lifting weights and playing. The girls we have returning are more determined than ever.”
Outlook: A deeper tournament run is not out of the question as Paris drops down to Class 2A from 3A. Paris participated in the Danville summer league and competed in three summer tournaments – Fairfield, Springfield and Joliet – finishing third in each of the former two and winning the latter.
Did you know? Lizzie Rouse became discouraged in junior high school, and her father told her she could quit volleyball, or, according to Pinkston, “work her tail off.” Rouse chose the latter, and now wants to continue playing in college.

School: (Colfax) Ridgeview
Conference: Heart of Illinois
Head coach: Sarah Kukuck
Last season’s highlights: 11-21 overall, 4-8 in conference, lost to (Farmer City) Blue Ridge, 25-20, 25-22, in a Class 1A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-11 senior middle hitter Kelly Jones, 5-2 senior libero River Rosales, 5-7 junior rightside hitter/setter Izzy Helmig, 5-10 junior middle/rightside hitter Ella Pierce.
Top newcomers: 5-0 junior defensive specialist Calli Maupin, 5-8 junior middle hitter Lexi Molek, 5-7 senior outside hitter Haleigh Beck, 5-11 junior middle hitter Kaidence Van Note.

School: Rockford Guilford
Conference: Northern Illinois 10
Head coach: Julian Jacques (fifth year)
Last season’s highlights: 14-11 overall, 12-6 in conference (third place in conference), lost to Hononegah, 24-26, 25-11, 25-17, in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-2 junior outside hitter Kaitlyn Flynn (all-conference), 6-2 sophomore outside hitter Ella Holmstrom (all-conference), 5-10 senior middle blocker Olivia Hughes, 5-6 senior opposite side hitter Alexis Erickson, 5-9 sophomore middle blocker Ayanna Manikham, 5-3 senior defensive specialist Mya Walker, 5-5 senior setter Lily Drinkwine, 5-3 junior defensive specialist Kira Tagala, 5-3 senior defensive specialist Elizabeth Lewinski.             
Top newcomers: 5-9 junior opposite/outside hitter Abigail Smith, 5-9 junior setter Grace Noakes.
Coach’s quote: “We were a very competitive team, but we were young. Many matches went to three games because we were inconsistent. We have a lot of returning players and some impact new players that have joined the group. No one is playing out of position. They are playing their true position. This should make us more consistent.”
Did you know? Ella Holmstrom has committed to Indiana.

School: St. Charles East
Conference: DuKane
Head coach: Jennie Kull
Last season’s highlights: 25-15 overall, 4-2 in conference, lost to Downers Grove North, 25-13, 25-17, in a Class 4A supersectional.
Top returnees: 6-0 junior middle hitter Anita Prybell, senior libero Emily Stallmen, senior defensive specialist Jessica Garland, junior defensive specialist Kayla Daros, senior middle hitter Amarian Isbell junior outside hitter Skyler Misch, senior outside hitter Rachal Sheahan.
Top newcomers: junior libero Olivia Muller (transfer from Glenbard North) setter Nina Scoliere.
Coach’s quote: “Defense is what we are banking on this season.”
Outlook: Graduation wiped out the Saints’ offense, claiming setter McKenna Slavik and leading attackers Sam Urban, Kirsten Rogers and Calli Gentry from the team that made a surprising run to the supersectional before falling to the eventual IHSA Class 4A runner-up.   

School: Springfield Lutheran
Conference: MSM
Head coach: Katie McCulley
Last season’s highlights: 24-11 overall, 7-0 in conference, lost to Jacksonville Routt, 25-18, 27-25, in a Class 1A regional championship.
Top returnees: rightside hitter Paige Bergschneider, senior defensive specialist Britta Brauer, senior defensive specialist Emily Stoeckel, junior outside hitter Erin Borntreger, junior outside hitter Delaney Scheidenhelm.
Top newcomers: freshman outside hitter Makenna Cox, defensive specialist Kaliegh Bergschneider.
Did you know? Paige Bergschneider, Lutheran’s leading hitter in 2018, tore her ACL in the first 5 points of the regional championship match against Routt, but has returned from her injury and is ready to lead the Crusaders in 2019.

School: Westmont
Conference: Metro Suburban
Head coach: Jennifer Gliwa-Bell
Last season’s highlights: 17-13 overall, 5-5 in conference (Interstate Eight), won regional championship, lost to Seneca, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21, in a Class 2A sectional semifinal.
Top returnees: seniors Maggie Durr, Rachel Padgitt, Maggie Schlacks, Violet Okon, Rylee Sharkey and Ashley Valtman.
Top newcomers: juniors Deniz Barkan, Julia Cain, Megan Thompson and Kathleen Zelinkski.
Coach’s quote: This is our first season back in the Metro Suburban after participating in the Interstate Eight for about the past 10 years. We are expecting to compete in this conference, and although we see some of the teams in tournaments and state series play, we are looking forward to playing many of these new teams.”

School: Wheeling
Conference: Mid-Suburban East 
Head coach: Jason Kopkowski
Last season’s highlights: 14-22 overall, 3-7 in conference, lost to Evanston, 27-25, 25-19, in a Class 4A regional quarterfinal.
Top returnees: 5-6 senior outside hitter Ally Ferraro, 5-6 senior outside hitter Olivia Chavez, 5-10 senior outside hitter Emily Lacaeyse, 5-4 senior defensive specialist Alanna Chavez, 5-3 junior libero Johana Veloso, 5-7 junior setter Emma Sternquist, 5-7 senior setter Grace Zambrano, 5-8 senior middle hitter Peyton Lacaeyse, 5-9 junior middle hitter Natalia Kozlowski.  
Top newcomers: 5-4 senior defensive specialist Emily Flessas, 5-10 senior middle hitter Morgan Collar, 5-8 junior middle hitter Kiannah Hayes, 5-7 sophomore outside hitter Jillian Bouchard, 5-9 sophomore outside hitter Danni Moser, 5-7 sophomore setter Angelina Semeria.
Coach’s quote: “Our team strengths fall into two tangible areas – serving and defense – and one intangible of great team chemistry.  I feel as if we have several players that could go on some serious runs with their serves and at the very minimum produce several out-of-system balls for our opponents. We have three team goals that we will focus on throughout the season: execute the fundamentals at a consistently high level, develop an offense that is deceptive and quick, and focus on mental toughness and togetherness. I expect that most of our matches will be highly competitive and that is why we have the goals that we do. We look forward to the fight and the challenge of every opponent, as well as the challenge of improving our own skills and playing at a consistently high level.”
Outlook: Wheeling will on the defense of libero Johana Veloso and offensive leadership of Grace Zambrano, who has committed to Chicago State University as it looks to improve its standing in the highly-competitive Mid-Suburban East.

School: Yorkville
Conference: Southwest Prairie
Head coach: Lisa Molek
Last season’s highlights: 26-8 overall, 8-2 in conference (second in the Northern Illinois Big 12), won Joliet Central tournament, won 16 in a row, lost to Lockport, 25-18, 25-22, in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-11 senior setter Maddy Bourque (728 assists, 43 blocks, 44 aces), 5-11 senior middle hitter Hailey Jansen (42 blocks, 56 kills), 5-8 senior libero Roni Blissit (184 digs), 5-8 sophomore rightside hitter Saige Avery.
Top newcomers: 5-8 middle hitter Kylie Loquercio, 5-7 outside/middle hitter Bella Alfaro.
Coach’s quote: “We are new to the Southwest Prairie, but are looking forward to playing higher competition level to better prepare us and increase our chances of making it further in the postseason. We already had a lot of Southwest Prairie Conference teams on our schedule for the past few years, but now they make up most of our schedule. Our girls are really excited for this opportunity and the season to get started.”
Outlook: Yorkville won four of six meetings with Southwest Prairie Conference teams in 2018, but now adds Minooka, Plainfield North, Plainfield Central and West Aurora to its schedule. The Foxes probably would have liked one more year of leading attacker Bella Zeman (Wofford), and will have to replace her offense quickly.
Did you know? Bourque is one of the top setters in Illinois and won a national AAU championship with her Sports Performance 18 Kahl team.  

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