All-Area volleyball selections spark local successes
Four of the area's five varsity girls volleyball teams had winning seasons in 2012. Seneca advanced to a 2A sectional final, and Minooka won a 4A regional.
Seneca, which had the best area record at 27-8-3, combined with 23-12 Minooka, 21-15 Morris, 17-13-2 Coal City and 4-20 Gardner-South Wilmington to give the area 92 wins this fall. Player of the Year Kendall Korte, who is profiled separately, leads the first of two seven-member squads on the 2012 Morris Daily Herald All-Area Girls Volleyball team.
Skyler Day, Minooka
Junior Outside Hitter
The area's kills leader with 347, Day had a team-best 45.6 kill percentage for Minooka while contributing 39 aces, 31 blocks, 185 digs and 427 serve receptions. She was named All-Conference in the Southwest Prairie and All-Tournament at Edwardsville and is committed to the University of Buffalo.
"Skyler switched from our L2 to L1 this year, which required that she play in the back row. She didn't do that last season or during her club season, but she was very solid with her serve receive and defense," Minooka coach Chris Hoelscher said. "Offensively, she was our go-to hitter all year. Her productivity increased once we used her more out of the back row, too."
Emily Halliday, Coal City
Junior Outside Hitter
To go with the area's No. 2 kill total of 264, Halliday compiled team-leading totals of 35 aces and 313 digs and served at a 91.2 percentage for the Lady Coalers. Her honors included All-Conference and Academic All-Conference in the Interstate Eight, team MVP, offensive player and defensive player and All-Tournament at Manteno.
"Emily is a great volleyball player who still has yet to show her full potential," Coal City coach Michael Lanoue said. "She plays at her best against the best teams, which is what our team needed."
Katie Chatten, Morris
With 694 assists, Chatten led the area in the category by a margin of 184. She led Morris in service points with 216 and aces with 43 and added 64 kills, 22 blocks and 206 digs. An All-Conference honorable mention pick in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East, Chatten will play at Upper Iowa University.
"She led us by running a 5-1 for the past two seasons, which is a ton of responsibility and leadership," Morris coach Jackie Litwiller said.
Nicole Pihl, Seneca
Senior Middle/Outside Hitter
Pihl's 249 kills tied for the Seneca lead. To them, she added a .263 kill efficiency, 46 aces, 42 blocks and 172 service points. Pihl will play softball at DePaul University.
"She plays all six rotations," Seneca coach Karen Raney said. "Big-time power. Starting since she was a freshman. Excellent hitter, outside and middle. Can attack in any direction. Jump server."
Aspen Stuedemann, Seneca
Senior Middle/Outside Hitter
In addition to sharing the team lead in kills with Pihl with 249, Stuedemann paced the Lady Irish in blocks with 54. Her kill efficiency was .240.
"Great leaping ability," Raney said. "Several schools (are) looking at her."
Kasey Schumacher, Minooka
The Southern Illinois University-bound Schumacher was voted MVP of the Indians, for whom she was a captain, and named All-Conference in the Southwest Prairie. Her statistics included a team-high 336 digs, 62 aces, 65 assists and 534 serve receptions.
"Kasey was our emotional leader all year," Hoelscher said. "She has a solid skill set, which enabled her to be a primary passer, excellent defender and set up the offense when the setter took the first contact. Kasey is driven to succeed.
Kassie Aldridge, Coal City
Named both All-Conference and Academic All-Conference in the Interstate Eight, Aldridge compiled 487 assists this season. She also totaled 42 kills and 116 digs.
"Kassie was our most consistent player throughout the season," Lanoue said. "She learned our offense right away and was able to deliver the ball to a variety of Lady Coaler hitters."
Tessa Griparis, Minooka
Senior Middle Hitter
Using a jump serve, Griparis served up a Minooka-high 68 aces and added 123 kills and an area-high 64 blocks. She was All-Conference in the SPC and served as a captain.
"Tessa was our stabilizer and leader. The team definitely stepped up when she rotated into the front row. She is a strong attacker and blocker," Hoelscher said. "Even though she only played in the back row when she served, she also did a great job as a defender."
Chelsie McCormick, Seneca
McCormick led the area in digs with 449. Her contributions also included a serving percentage of 91, 30 aces and the team's second-highest passing rating (2.0).
"Reads great, fierce competitor," Raney said.
Laney Torkelson, Morris
Senior Middle Blocker
Morris' blocks leader with 59, Torkelson also contributed 157 kills, ranking second on the team. She served up 18 aces and a total of 115 points.
"Laney was at times a game changer," Litwiller said. "When she brought it, she was
unstoppable. There were many times that teams could not stop her."
Danielle Hauch, Seneca
Junior Outside Hitter
Hauch was as the best passer among the Lady Irish with a 2.1 rating. She also finished first on the team in service points with 180 and was third in kills with 140.
"Steady Eddie," Raney said. "Great all-around player."
Claire Smith, Coal City
Junior Middle Blocker
A third Interstate Eight All-Conference and Academic All-Conference pick from Coal City, Smith led the team with 57 blocks. She added 125 kills and 18 aces.
"Claire is another strong hitter who has an abundance of potential," Lanoue said. "She can hit a variety of sets and was a strong blocker against some taller opposition this season."
Breann Fisher, GSW
Junior Middle Hitter
A first-team All-Conference pick in the River Valley, Fisher was named Offensive Player of the Year for GSW. She totaled 91 kills, a .141 hitting percentage, 15 blocks and 26 aces.
"She was a great player on the court, which really motivated the girls," GSW coach Melissa Cardone said. "She played with 100 percent of herself every game. You never have to ask more from her. Breann always brings it to every match."
Coal City: Senior outside hitter HAILEY REILLY, an Academic All-Conference pick in the I-8 who totaled 62 kills and 198 digs. "Hailey (was) one of our most consistent passers and defensive players who came up with some excellent saves and also some timely kills," Lanoue said. .... Senior right-side hitter DONJETA SHABANI, who had 122 kills, 1 blocks, 30 aces and 128 digs. "Donjeta was a huge asset in defending the opposing teams' outside attack by being able to stop their hitting with her size and ability," Lanoue said. ... Junior outside hitter BRITTA SPELDE, an Academic All-Conference selection in the I-8 who had 104 kills and 75 digs. "Britta was our most versatile player as she was able to play all three front row positions effectively," Lanoue said.
GSW: Senior outside hitter ABBY HORRIE, who was special mention All-Conference in the RVC, All-Tournament at Watseka and totaled 70 kills, 29 aces and 78 digs. "She was one of our strongest (passers) and defenders as well as an amazing hitter," Cardone said. ... Senior setter MIRANDA FALETTI, whose 86 assists and 15 kills earned her the GSW Coaches Award and special mention All-Conference honors in the RVC. "Even after being injured and missing the last four matches, she never gave up on her team," Cardone said.
Minooka: Junior defensive specialist NATALIE YARD, who totaled 285 serve receptions, 144 digs and 57 aces. "Natalie Yard is a dynamite passer and defender; however, she quickly became our most effective server," Hoelscher said.
Morris: Sophomore outside hitter JOANNA NOWICKI, who turned in 111 kills, 19 blocks, 26 aces and 152 digs. "She is also a rock star from the serving line, and we know that she will get us going when she steps up," Litwiller said. ... Junior libero MORGAN HUSSEY, a 93.9 percent server who recorded 291 digs and 24 aces. "She was our second setter which was awesome for us because she has such great hands," Litwiller said.
Seneca: Junior outside hitter and setter KAYLA HAINES, who had 129 kills, 175 assists, a 2.0 passing rating and a serving percentage of 90. "Smartest player. Started as a sophomore," Raney said. ... Sophomore setter MADISON WYSS, the Seneca leader in assists with 510 who was second on the team with 44 aces. "Did not play sophomore level and went from frosh last year to varsity starter this year," Raney said.