Girls volleyball: Wheaton Classic field looks strong as ever

A couple of things are pretty clear when it comes to the 2023 Wheaton Classic girls volleyball tournament.

First, the field of 24 participating teams is tough as ever.

Second, expect Benet to be in the championship mix when all is said and done.

“The field is fantastic.,” said Benet coach Brad Baker. “It will be a fun tournament. We have won the tournament in 9 of the 14 years we have played in it and played in the championship in 12 of the 14 years.”

The defending Classic champion Redwings, who took second in Class 4A last year, are off to a 7-1 start to this season, their only loss coming to undefeated Glenbard West.

“We’re still figuring out the lineup and breaking in new players,” Baker said. “New is our setter, RS, an OH (setter from last year), and a DS. We are relatively young as we currently play 10 players and only two are seniors.”

Senior outside Ava Novak and junior libero/OH Aniya Warren continue to be the mainstays for the Redwings.

The Wheaton Classic, which begins next Wednesday with pool play at host Wheaton Warrenville South and at the Great Lakes Center in Aurora, includes not only Benet but defending 4A champ Marist (8-0), Geneva (6-3), IC Catholic (6-1), Metea Valley (10-3), Oak Park-River Forest (10-2), and St. Charles North (7-2), among others.



Geneva has been led this season by junior middle Fiona Turnbull, senior libero Reilly Day and junior setter Bridget Feitcher. SCN’s top player has been senior outside Katherine Scherer.

“We will need to play well on offense and also play exceptionally on defense.” said Baker. “There are some of the best offensive players in the state in the tournament that are going to challenge us. We are excited for the challenge.”

Glenbard East update:

The Rams took third placed last weekend in the Peggy Scholten Classic at Conant and then extended their season record to 8-5 overall and 2-0 in the Upstate Eight with a win over South Elgin on Tuesday.

Lauren Bradley (4 aces, 37 digs, 7 assists), Grace Johnson (9 aces, 35 kills, 22 digs, & 3 blocks), Hannah Meyer (4 aces, 21 digs, 1 kill, 88 assists, 2 blocks), Gabby Walton (13 kills, 2 blocks), and Sophia Sommesi (5 aces, 49 kills, 31 digs, 4 blocks, 4 assists) led the Rams at Conant.



Wheaton North update:

The Falcons (4-9) went 2-3 at the Jacobs tournament last weekend. Halina Istanbouli (13 kills, 19 digs, 1 block, 1 ace, 1 assist), Mary Kate Whittington (20 kills, 7 digs, 1 block, 4 aces), Izzy Gibbons (12 assists, 12 kills, 5 digs, 3 blocks), Ellie Danly (10 digs, 14 assists, 6 aces, 1 kill), Juju Fender (30 assists, 4 aces, 10 digs, 2 kills), Mackenzie Nettles (19 kills, 3 blocks), Olivia Zamis (16 kills, 6 blocks, 5 aces, 2 digs), Emily Rochford (20 assists, 9 aces, 9 digs), Kate Koliopoulos (27 digs, 6 aces, 5 assists), Emilia Lee (17 digs, 3 assists, 1 ace), Aleksa Vasiliauskas (6 kills, 1 block) and Mirabel Barbera (9 digs, 1 ace) were the team’s leaders.

Willowbrook update:

The Warriors won their own invite over the weekend then moved to 9-0 Tuesday with a West Suburban win over Addison Trail. At the weekend tournament, Calli Kenny (37 kills, 17 aces, 35 assists, 20 digs) and Hannah Kenny (39 kills, 53 assists, 28 digs), and Anna Marinier (18 kills) led the Warriors, who defeated Trinity, Coal City, Glenbard North, West Chicago and Metea Valley.

Willowbrook def. West Chicago 25-17, 25-14

Naperville North update:

Senior middle Simi Kapustova was named to the all-tournament team at Conant for the Huskies, who went 3-2 over the weekend.

Batavia update:

Batavia finished 2-3 at the Jacobs Invite, winning the Silver Division. Top performers for the Bulldogs were McKenna Bremner (29 kills, 25 assists, 22 digs), Teagan Rokos (56 digs, 5 aces, 10 assists), Ansley Rayman (43 assists, 23 digs) and Brooke Robertson (19 kills).

“I was really proud of how the team played all day,” said Batavia coach McKenna Kelsay.

“Five matches in one day at the varsity level is tough, especially with the competition we saw. We battled against every team we played and were able to come away with a couple of good wins to wrap up a big two-week stretch of tournaments/matches.” Batavia (5-9) defeated Lake Park 25-20, 25-23 on Tuesday in DuKane Conference action. Bremner (8 kills, 4 digs), Zoe Balzanto (5 kills, 2 aces) and Rokos (14 digs) led the way.

Huntley’s Watson to Kentucky:

Huntley junior outside Georgia Watson (6-foot-3) committed to Kentucky recently. “Georgia is a leader on and off the court,” said Red Raiders coach Karen Naymola. “She has such a passion for the game and it’s contagious the energy she brings to the court. She can single-handedly take over matches. Kentucky got a great athlete and an even better kid. She works hard, likes to compete and brings out the best in her teammates.” Huntley is 6-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Fox Valley Conference, where it has a 23-match winning streak.

Burlington Central update:

The Rockets moved to 5-1 for the season with an FVC win over McHenry on Tuesday. In wins last week over DeKalb, Crystal Lake South and CL Central, junior Leah Freesemann (26 kills, 5 blocks), sophomore Haidyn Schatz (17 kills, 3 blocks, 7 aces) and junior Brianna Gritzman (30 digs, 9 aces, 8 assists) led BC. “The team really came together (last) week and fought hard for their wins against some incredibly strong teams. We’re looking forward to aiming to continue this winning streak,” said Rockets coach Julia Smagacz.

Lake Park update:

The Lancers are 5-4 on the season and finished seventh at the Conant/Fremd Early Bird Tournament. “We have a team that has one returning starter from last year’s team so there is a lot of growth day to day and this past weekend we started to see that coming to fruition,” said coach Brian Fischer. The Lancers were led in the tournament by junior setter Kaileigh Krawiec (4 kills, 1 block, 8 aces, 79 assists, 17 digs), junior outside Samantha Kuman (25 kills, 1.5 block, 7 aces, 64 digs) and senior middle Jillian Gibbons (17 kills, 4 blocks, 4 aces, 2 digs, 1 assist).

Rosary update:

The Royals’ top performers so far this season have been juniors Clare McEniry (38 kills on 109 attempts with 32 digs), Lily Caruso (41 kills on 121 attempts also totaling 7 blocks, 28 assists, 21 digs, and 12 aces), Molly Lambert (86 assists, 6 kills and 20 digs) and libero Lilli Riddiford with 14 aces, 10 assists, and 57 digs). “Although our record sits at 1-7 to date on the season our schedule has only consisted of (Class) 3 and 4A schools and we are a 3A school,” said coach Franky Martinez. “This past week we did capture our first win against Plainfield South and took a set off West Aurora and St. Francis.”


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