Athlete of the Week
Crystal Lake Central, sr., OH
Pratt had what Central coach Lisa Reddish considered her best week of the season last week. Pratt was the go-to hitter for the Tigers on the outside at the Prairie Ridge Tournament, where Central finished second. Pratt finished with 33 kills and seven blocks, including 10 against the host Wolves and seven against Cary-Grove. Pratt also led the team in kills against Woodstock last Thursday with seven. The Tigers are one of the area’s hottest teams at 11-3 overall.
Higher expectations: Dundee-Crown coach Christine Hopkins-Muehl noted at the start of the season that her Chargers were young and just looking to get better match by match. At 8-6 overall, D-C is pleased with its early success, especially as the Chargers begin a grueling week that includes matches against Prairie Ridge on Tuesday and Huntley on Thursday.
The emergence of setter Frankie Cavallaro has helped. Cavallaro has a lot of experience setting at the younger levels, Hopkins-Muehl said, and now is adjusting to the faster paced varsity game. Leadership and utilizing all of her offensive options continue to be points on which Hopkins-Muehl and Cavallaro are working. “She has an undeniable love for the game, and she is extremely enthusiastic,” Hopkins-Muehl said. “We are hoping that love and enthusiasm bubbles over to the rest of the team.”
D-C has not played to its potential yet, Hopkins-Muehl said, and is waiting for that one really dominant match.
“They really need to just trust themselves and play volleyball,” she said. “Because they are so young, they are worried about making mistakes. We just want them to constantly improve and progress in a positive direction.”
Filling the role: It’s no secret Johnsburg coach Sue Feely likes grooming setters young, and Feely was fortunate to have Megan Davis running the offense for the past four seasons. Losing Davis could have been a significant void had sophomore Abby Majercik not stepped up to the challenge.
Majercik has made a near-seamless transition, Feely said, and her chemistry is not only with her sister, senior outside hitter Amy. “The Majercik sisters work as well as all of the team works together,” Feely said. “There really isn't something different between them versus Abby with anyone else. … She fits in great.”
Feely thought having just nine players on her roster this year may hurt, but she has struggled with the lower numbers just once. Three varsity players were out sick during the Grayslake Central Ram Slam on Sept. 7, and Feely brought along a few JV players.
“I’m glad I did,” she said. “We realize how important all nine of us are, so we need to make sure we are all healthy and eligible. We had a great summer playing together first at our summer camp and then at Purdue's summer camp. The nine of them really received some great bonding time and really got to work together.”
This week’s top matches
Huntley at Cary-Grove, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Huntley coach Karen Liss faces off against her former coach, Patty Langanis, in the first of these two teams’ Fox Valley Conference Valley Division matches this year.
Marian Central at St. Francis, 6 p.m. Wednesday
St. Francis, ranked No. 9 in the country by prepvolleyball.com and the reigning Class 3A state champion, is a measuring stick for most opponents. The Hurricanes, a Suburban Christian Conference foe, are not one of the exceptions.
Asics Preview, Friday and Saturday at Chicago Mother McAuley
The winner of this annual tournament hosted by the Mighty Macs’s JV team gets a bid to the prestigious Asics Challenge, held each year in early October by McAuley’s varsity program. Marian Central and Crystal Lake South will vie for a ticket against strong competition from Illinois and elsewhere.
– Maureen Lynch