It’s rare that a libero can have such an dramatic effect on a volleyball team’s sustained success, but the 5-foot-4 Monson is a rare talent.
“Hattie put in a lot of extra work this year and she got really serious really early on, and by doing those two things – putting in a lot of extra work and getting serious – she’s made a dramatic impact on how we play volleyball,” said Sports Performance girls director and SPVB 16 Elite coach Erik Vogt.
Monson, who verbally committed to Notre Dame as a freshman, led SPVB 16 Elite to a 23-1 record in Power League play. The only team to solve Monson & Co. was Iowa Rockets 16R, which beat the home standers 25-22, 25-19 back on February 11.
“When you have a libero back there who basically passes almost at a 2.5 and is a defensive monster, it helps dramatically on your team,” Vogt added. “She makes a lot of plays every match, and we expect her to make big plays pretty much every match we play in.”
Runner-up to Monson in the MVP balloting was Lions 15-1 setter Rachel Muisenga, a teammate of Monson’s at Benet Academy. Lions 15-1, one of the top 15s teams in the country, lost only seven times in Power League play this season – five of those losses coming at the hands of Monson & Co.
“I think Rachel is one of the better setters in this class,” Vogt said. “She moves the ball around really well. The thing that has always impressed me is when they’re (Lions 15-1) out of system and she’s falling backwards, she still can get the ball to the outside, the same location, which is what I think has led to their team’s success this year.
“She puts their hitters in hittable situations, and for a 15-year-old to that at this level consistently is very impressive,” he added.
The Great Lakes 16s Power League showcased the talents of some of the best young volleyball players in the area, which bodes for an exciting fall high school season.
Among the players who excelled in the Great Lakes 16s Power League were high school standouts Madi Malone of Class 1A semifinalist Newark, 6-3 middle hitter Emily Kleffman of Class 3A supersectional qualifier Tinley Park, and 6-1 outside hitter Camryn Hannah of Class 4A state champion Marist.
There were others.
Illini Elite 16 Cardinal’s 6-2 middle hitter Allie Trame was a big part of Champaign St. Thomas More’s Class 2A championship drive. Six-foot middle hitter Akacia Brown of Iowa Rockets16R helped lead Cedar Rapids to the Iowa Class 5A state championship last fall. SPVB 16 Elite’s Cate Long powered Aurora Christian to a Class 2A supersectional in 2017.
And there is plenty of talent at in the 15s age group as well, like 6-foot outside hitter Brooklyn Borum of SPVB 15 Elite, who guided Sterling to a Class 3A sectional semifinal, and Emily Wilson of SPVB 15 Elite, who helped Joliet Catholic reach a Class 4A regional championship match in the fall.
“I think the 15s age group in this power league has been very good overall,” Vogt said. “The best 15s teams in the area are here. When the 15s become 16s, it’s going to be a real good show. And there’s a lot of strong 14s coming up into the 15s.”
What Vogt is saying is … the future for volleyball in Illinois looks very, very bright, and some of the brightest stars play in Aurora.
So here they are. They top players who competed this winter and spring at the Great Lakes Volleyball Center selected by coaches, Great Lakes Volleyball Center staff and Illprepvb.com.
Illprepvb.com/Great Lakes Power League 16s All-League Team
Alexis Boling (Waukesha West H.S.), 5-11, MH, Midwest Penguins 15 Black
Brooklyn Borum (Sterling), 6-0, OH, SPVB 15 Elite
Akacia Brown (Cedar Falls H.S., Cedar Falls, Iowa), 6-0, MH, Iowa Rockets 16R
Mira Chopra (Champaign Central), 6-2, MH, Illini Elite 16 Cardinal
Camryn Hannah (Marist/Clemson), 6-1, RS/OH, Michio Chicago 16 National
Lydia Harper (Caledonia H.S.), 6-0, S, FaROut 15 Black
Nicolette Jones (Lyons Twp./Duquesne University), 6-2, MH, Michio Chicago 15 National
Emily Kleffman (Tinley Park), 6-3, MH, Ultimate G16 Gold
Kelsey Law (Iowa City H.S., Iowa City, Iowa), 5-10, OH, Iowa Rockets 16R
Karina Leber (Wilmot Union H.S.), 6-3, MH, WI Juniors 16-1
Patricia Cesarini (Lyons Township), 5-11, OH, 1st Alliance 16 Black
Cate Long (Aurora Christian), 6-1, OH, SPVB 16 Elite
Madi Malone (Newark), 6-1, OH, Lions 15-1
Hattie Monson (Benet), 5-5, L, SPVB 16 Elite
Rachel Muisenga (Benet), 6-1, S, Lions 15-1
Chloey Myers (West Aurora), 6-1, OH, Cyclones 16 Black Adidas
Aubrey O’Gorman (Lakewood Odessa H.S.), , 6-2, MB, FaROut 15 Black
Allie Trame (Champaign St. Thomas More), 6-2, MH, Illinois Elite 16 Cardinal
Melissa Walden (Waubonsie Valley), 6-0, S. SPVB 16 Elite
Margaret Wallenberger (Jacobs), 5-11, OH, Sky High 15 Black
Emily Wilson (Joliet Catholic), 6-1, OH, SPVB 15 Elite
For final results of the Great Lakes 16s Power League. go to www.advancedeventsystems.com/EventResults/(S(2hhalz45egk5ryebaplckv55))/Standings.aspx?e=PTAwMDAwMTM3MDM90&d=60257