Glenbard West best in the West? Valmeyer set to make big leap

Glenbrook South graduated eight seniors from last year’s regional semifinalist that took New Trier to three sets.

School: Glenbard West 
Conference: West Suburban Silver
Head coach:  Pete Mastandrea      
Last season’s highlights: 29-10 overall, 5-1 in conference (second place), finished second at the Effingham Crossroads Classic, won sixth consecutive regional title, reached the Sweet 16 for the third straight year, lost 18-25, 25-18, 25-23 to Downers Grove North in a Class 4A sectional championship.
Top returnees: 5-11 senior all-conference middle hitter Ananda Patterson (fourth-year starter and Campbell University recruit), 5-10 senior middle/outside hitter Nina Crawford (fourth-year starter and AAU All-American), 5-7 senior all-conference libero Katie Ryan, 5-7 senior setter Kaitlyn Dumerrer, 6-1 junior outside hitter Virginia Curtis, 5-9 senior outside hitter Ellory Graff, 5-6 senior defensive specialist Sophie Alles.
Top newcomers: 5-10 junior outside hitter Anna Sear, 5-10 junior setter/rightside hitter Katie Langan, 5-10 middle/rightside hitter Ashleigh Wince.
Coach’s quote: “Our only graduate from last year’s team was Hannah Brodner. Patterson will be one of the top players in the area when she returns from her knee injury (torn ACL in sectional semifinal game in 2017). A very energetic, experienced senior class should equate to good volleyball at Glenbard West. Patterson’s return will be very significant in how well we do. With our libero, setter and top four offensive players returning, it is hopefully going to be an exciting season.”
Did you know? Glenbard West played four teams that reached the state semifinals last season – St. Viator, Bellville Althoff, Marist and Windsor-Stewardson- Strasburg. 

School: Glenbrook South
Conference: Central Suburban South
Head coach: Kelly Dorn
Last season’s highlights: 14-23 overall, 2-8 in conference, lost 25-19, 19-25, 25-14 to New Trier in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 6-2 senior middle blocker Kate Gregory, 5-10 junior outside hitter Kendall Smith, 6-0 junior middle blocker Vanessa Kuliga.
Coach’s comment: “We will be a young team, but very strong. I’m looking forward to watching our rising seniors lead the team to many wins.”
Outlook: Glenbrook South graduated eight seniors from last year’s team but should challenge New Trier and Niles West in the conference behind some young, talented players.
Did you know? Kate Gregory is president of Student Council and is involved with numerous clubs and activities including the girls letter club where she heads the “Go Gold” campaign for the entire school.  

School: Kaneland
Conference: Northern Illinois Big Twelve
Head coach: Cynthia Violett     
Last season’s highlights: 28-8 overall, sixth at Wheaton North invite, won Champaign Centennial, Pontiac and Woodstock North invites, lost 25-15, 25-17 to St. Charles North in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-10 senior outside hitter Katie Jablonski (pictured left), 5-3 senior libero Julianna Vassallo, 5-11 senior setter Shelby Hannula, 6-7 senior setter Sydney Fedderly, 5-10 senior middle hitter Lauren Steers, 5-10 junior outside hitter Grace Franz.
Top newcomers: 5-6 junior defensive specialist Grace Vranicar.
Coach’s quote: “With many returning seniors, we’re looking to be a contender for a conference and regional championships.”
Outlook: Katie Jablonski is one of the top hitters in the state and gives the Knights an opportunity to win almost every match they play.
Did you know? Jablonski was named an AAU All-American after helping her Fusion 17 Red team finish second in the 17 Premier division in Orlando, Florida.

School: Latin School of Chicago
Conference: Independent School League
Head coach: Bryn Kehoe
Last season’s highlights: 34-5-1 overall, 7-0 record in conference, lost 25-15, 25-16 to eventual state runner-up Resurrection in a Class 3A supersectional.
Top returnees: 5-8 senior outside hitter Charlotte Cronister, 5-9 senior outside hitter Julia Kinder, 6-0 junior middle blocker/rightside hitter Katie Kraczykowski, 5-8 sophomore setter and USAV All-American Ava Tortorello, 5-11 senior middle blocker Kelsey Watkins.
Top newcomers: 5-5 sophomore defensive specialist/libero Eva Moravic.
Outlook: Latin, which did not face a non-Chicago Public School during its run to the supersectional, has added some nonconference matches against top Class 3A and 4A teams in addition to the Niles West tournament to better prepare for the state tournament.
Did you know? The Latin School volleyball program strongly supports its multi-sport athletes. Charlotte Cronister is a four-year varsity starter and all-conference selection in soccer, Ava Tortorello plays volleyball and basketball, and Julia Kinder and CiCi Carr play volleyball and run track. 

School: St. Charles East
Head Coach: Jennie Kull
Last season’s highlights: 31-8 overall, 5-1 in conference, lost 26-24, 25-18 to state semifinalist St. Charles North in a Class 4A sectional championship.
Top returnees: 6-0 senior setter and Clemson recruit McKenna Slavik, middle hitter Kirsten Rogers, defensive specialist/outside hitter Calli Gentry, defensive specialist/outside hitter Sam Urban.
Coach’s quote: “We will be a very young team as we graduated many of our players. It will help to be led by senior setter McKenna Slavik, who ran the 18 Elite team at Sports Performance to a national championship, so she knows how to win. We are looking to young kids to step up and make a difference.”
Did you know? St. Charles East assistant coach Matt Caputo was a starting libero on Wheaton Warrenville South’s 2007 state championship team.

School: Valmeyer
Conference: Cahokia
Head coach: Jenny Kohnz    
Last season’s highlights: 27-11 overall, 7-5 in conference, won Roxana tournament, won regional championship, lost 18-25, 25-16, 25-17 to Steeleville in a Class 1A sectional final.
Top returnees: 5-7 senior setter, four-year starter and first-team Belleville News-Democrat all-area selection Guin Kohnz (770 assists, 65 aces in 2017), 5-11 senior middle hitter Sara Andres (187 kills), 5-6 senior libero and second-team Belleville News-Democrat all-area selection Kendra Goldschmidt (342 digs, 39 aces), 5-8 junior outside hitter Caitlin Crossin.
Coach’s quote: “We lost only one senior to graduation, so we are looking forward to this year. We have lost in the sectional finals the last two years, and our goal is winning a sectional title.”
Did you know, Part I? Kohnz’s assistant coach, Karla Bivins, was her high school volleyball coach. Bivins retired from coaching, but in 2009, Kohnz talked her into returning to the bench as an assistant coach. The pair have been coaching the high school and junior high teams together ever since.
Did you know, Part II? Jenny Kohnz’s setter, Guin, is her daughter.  

School: Wauconda
Conference: Northern Lake County
Head coach: Alison Williams
Last season’s highlights: 19-15 overall, 5-2 in conference, lost 25-21, 20-25, 25-11 to (Gurnee) Warren in a Class 4A regional semifinal.
Top returnees: 5-9 senior middle blocker Erika Kraml, 5-6 senior libero Raquel Acosta, 5-7 junior setter Savannah Johnson, 5-9 junior setter/rightside hitter Riley Aldrich, 5-8 junior outside hitter Nicole Callahan.
Top newcomers: 5-8 junior outside hitter Emily Johnson, 5-8 junior middle blocker Tara Bierdz.
Outlook: Wauconda lost seven seniors to graduation and have five veterans who played last year, but the Bulldogs will be young overall. Wauconda could have a chance to finish in the top three in conference and surprise some teams by the end of the season.

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