Girls Volleyball: All-Area team as talented as ever

Story Image The Sun-Times All-Area girls volleyball team. L-r bottom row are: Caleigh Ryan, Mallory Salis, Emily Milligan, Sheila Doyle, Jessica Brezwyn, Alyssa Baznik, and Jill Conrad. L-r top row are: Jill Conrad, Cindy Zhou, Hannah Kaminsky, Dakota Hampton, Morgan Reardon, and Lauren Carlini. Sunday, November 4, 2012, in Chicago. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media

Updated: November 9, 2012 8:24PM

The Chicago Sun-Times 2012 Girls All-Area Volleyball team proves that year after year, some of the best talent in the nation can be found in Illinois.

The team features West Aurora setter Lauren Carlini, named the No. 1 college recruit in the country by, and Marist’s Mallory Salis, the MVP of the 64-team NIKE Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz.

The team also includes Evansville recruit Alysia Baznik of Naperville Central, who had 304 kills, 176 digs and 58 aces during the regular season. “She is an impact player from all six rotations,” coach Brie Isaacson said. “She is simply irreplaceable.”

Hinsdale South’s Jessica Brezwyn broke onto the high school scene in a big way, leading the Hornets to a sectional upset of Benet as a sophomore. This year, the North Carolina-Greensboro recruit led the Hornets to the Lyons invite title with 32 kills and 21 digs in two matches.

There was something about Jill Conrad that caught coach Deanna Storino’s eye very early. “I remember coaching Jill at our junior high basketball and volleyball camps at Stagg and thinking, ‘Wow, this kid is going to be good…really good.’ ’’

Liberos are rarely named tournament MVPs, but North Carolina-bound Sheila Doyle, a former freshman “B” player, did it twice. “Where she has come from in the last four years speaks to her work ethic,” Benet coach Brad Baker said.

Genes might have played a role in Dakota Hampton’s greatness on the floor, and the 6-foot-1 Sandburg star was just as great off the court. “She took ownership of the team in preparation and focus,” coach David Vales said.

Benet’s Hannah Kaminsky has never lost on Saturday during the regular season, leading her teams to a 16-0 tournament record. “She makes other players around her better and rise to a level that they have never played at before,” Baker said.

A unanimous all-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection and two-time all-tournament choice this season, North Dakota State-bound libero Emily Milligan of Nazareth also helped lead the Roadrunners to back-to-back regional titles.

Joliet Catholic’s Morgan Reardon is staying a little closer to home (Loyola), where the fourth-leading attacker in school history (behind Allie Quigley, Kelly Murphy and Annemarie Hickey) is certain to make an impact for the Ramblers.

Local volleyball fans will also have four more years to enjoy Northwestern recruit Caleigh Ryan of Glenbard West, who led the Hilltoppers to their first West Suburban Conference title since 1984 and back-to-back 30-win seasons.

Cindy Zhou’s two conference titles and 120 career victories may never be equaled at Libertyville. Nor will her drive to succeed. “In several matches she’s literally put the team on her back and simply willed us to win,” coach Greg Loika said.

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