Montini’s great Class 3A season girls volleyball ended last fall with a loss to St. Francis in the sectional finals after 30 wins, and plenty of firepower returns for a team that should be among the state’s best this time around in Class 2A.
Iowa libero Joslyn Boyer departed along with fellow All-area Caitlyn Meeks, but the Broncos return setter Tess Noonan and Julia Marciniak to name just a few, and a stellar freshman class last year included Paige Pickering and others who made immediate impacts at the varsity level.
“This year we will be once again a mixture of young and experienced players and we are looking to make a run at the 2A title. Yet again, we will have one of the hardest regular-season schedules in the state,” Montini coach Steve Dowjotas said.
Neuqua Valley returns two of the top players in the state from a team that went 22-15 and tied for second with Naperville Central in the DVC. Senior Faith Johnson had 375 kills last fall and will play at the University of Akron when she’s done excelling for the Wildcats, while fellow three-year starter and University of Memphis-bound libero Bailey Houlihan is back after 539 digs her junior year. Taylor O’Malley and Riley Ammenhauser also return for the experienced squad.
Maggie Bair, one of Glenbard South’s best athletes ever, has graduated and the Raiders will count heavily on senior Kathleen Millett and senior setter Sadie Camfield. Glenbard West was hit hard by graduation and coach Peter Mastandrea will lean on 6-1 Virginia Curtis, a three-year starting outside hitter, and defensive specialist Maeve Campanella.
Glenbard East, 30-8 last year and Upstate Eight Conference champion behind since-departed stars Sarah Elliott and Allison Hamaker, also was hit hard by graduation and will rely heavily on a strong junior class.
Wheaton Warrenville South turned a corner in 2018 with a 21-10 mark with a program that returns five starters and seven varsity players. Setters Sarah Burau — a 6-foot senior committed to Lehigh — and junior Brigham Young recruit Zayna Meyer, are both back, along with senior middles Kaileigh Ammons and Annika Barron, and libero Darby Harris.
“Getting to 20 wins last season, paired with a couple signature wins while playing an incredibly tough schedule with very young players was a welcome turn of events,” Tigers coach Bill Schreier said. “The climate and intensity has changed considerably as the whole team continues to mature. We are looking to challenge for the DuKane Conference championship while eying a potential extended postseason run.”
Naperville Central will be solid again after going 22-14 last year. The Redhawks will be led by Kayla Closset and Maddie Bylak, Hannah Rubino, Kaitlyn Skowronski and Grace Butler.
York saw its season end with a sectional finals loss to Downers North. The Dukes went 26-13 in 2018 and expect continued strong play from junior Gigi Barr, who was All-Area with more than 350 kills and 295 digs. Defensive leaders Seona Albue and Grace Meadows, and Sydney Kruger and Stella Barr also return.
Addison Trail returns six starters from a 17-19 team including All-Area Jessica D’Ambrose, a four-year starter who had 214 kills and 242 digs in 2018. Downers Grove South returns four-year starting setter Addy Karmik and middle hitters Jess Juerke and Rose Dumford.
New Lisle coach Jamie Buhnerkemper expects a lot from returning setter Kaitlyn Angileri and 6-foot middle Carmen Johnson, while new Glenbard North coach Leah Harding will look to four-year starters Maddie Meyers and Anastasia Brown to bring leadership and experience. Fenton went 24-12 with a senior-laden team last fall and will now look for big contributions from seniors Julianna Krebasch, Britania Aguilar, Noha Zaggoti and Sydney Minard.
Hinsdale Central is expecting Lauren Ridgeway and Brooke Cooper to lead the Red Devils to a winning record, while Hinsdale South won the West Suburban Gold and returns several regulars led by senior Kaitlyn Hurka.
IC Catholic Prep returns a number of key players from a 22-14 team that reached the Class 2A sectional finals including dynamic libero Bella Leslie, setter Sophie Hurt, outside pin hitters Jess Sobon and Claire Wagner, and middle Kristen Brachmann.
For Metea Valley, 2018 was a building year for a young team that went 11-25. Look for seniors Cora Ondrus and Gabby Zawadzki to pace the Mustangs.
Back to lead the way for Timothy Christion’s 2A regional champs are 6-1 junior Greta Hoogstra, 6-0 junior Hannah Schuringa and junior setter Campbell Marshall, while three-year all-conference libero Payton Ceh will lead the way for Willowbrook.