2018 N-G All-State volleyball Player of the Year: Plainfield Central's Taylor Landfair

2018 N-G All-State volleyball Player of the Year: Plainfield Central's Taylor Landfair

PLAINFIELD — The first time Erik Vogt saw Taylor Landfair at a Sports Performance Volleyball Club clinic the Plainfield Central coach was sure she was one of the soon-to-be high school freshman.
Landfair looked the part. Both in stature — she was around 6-foot-2 at the time — and in what she was doing on the volleyball court.

“I go, ‘Oh, what high school are you going to next year?’” Vogt said. “She was like, ‘I’m in sixth grade.’”

“His mouth like dropped to the floor,” Landfair added.

Landfair eventually got to the high school ranks, playing for Vogt at Plainfield Central. The 6-foot-4 outside hitter has also lived up to the expectations Vogt started contemplating when she was still in middle school. That included a standout junior season where Landfair racked up 515 kills, 249 digs, 44 blocks and 43 aces as the 2018 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year.

Landfair has always been ahead of the curve. She was the youngest player on the USA Volleyball roster that played at the 2017 FIVB 18U World Championships in Argentina two summers ago. Her teammates on that roster included new Illinois setter Mica Allison and two players that played in this month’s NCAA championship match — Nebraska setter Nicklin Hames and Stanford middle blocker Holly Campbell.

Prior to that, Landfair played on the SPVB 18 Elite team … as a 14-year-old freshman. Sports Performance has had a number of standout athletes come through its program, like former Illini All-American Colleen Ward and current U.S. National Team members Lauren Carlini and Kelly Murphy.
Landfair? She’s the only freshman to ever make the 18 Elite roster.

“We’ve only had three or four sophomores play on the 18 Elite team,” said Vogt, who also coaches for SPVB. “She was the first freshman to play on the 18 Elite team. I think you can find (freshmen) that have played in the 18 Open but never any that play well. She didn’t just play well. She was an offensive scoring machine as a freshman.”

Landfair hasn’t lost that “scoring machine” moniker since. She has more than 1,000 kills in essentially 2 1/2 seasons for Plainfield Central after missing part of her sophomore year because of Team USA obligations and the end of the 2017 season because of knee pain. The time playing up multiple levels in club has only helped Landfair develop.

“At first I thought it was really hard to adjust to playing that high of a level,” Landfair said. “Jumping from 14s to 18s is really difficult, and I had to adjust to the speed of the play because they played a lot faster than 14s did. During 14s I was kind of always the player that kind of dominated — just got kills all the time — but when I got to 18s everybody was really good.

“You always had to fight for your spot and you always had to fight for a point. Nothing comes easy. I definitely matured a lot more and played the game a lot better and learned how to score points when it wasn’t as easy.”

What stands out to Vogt as much as — if not more — than Landfair’s attacking prowess is her passing and defense. She set a new career high in digs this past season, and Vogt remains impressed by her ability in the back row in serve-receive.

“To me, personally, one of the more impressive numbers she has is her passing efficiency,” Vogt said. “If you look at the NBA and you’re really good at scoring, you play no defense.”

That’s not the case for elite-level volleyball players. And Landfair, who committed to Minnesota in February, has her sights set on playing six rotations as a freshman for the Gophers.

“Taylor’s spent a lot of time passing — maybe more so passing than she has on the offensive side — because she’s so good at attacking,” Vogt said. “Her goal is to play right away at Minnesota, and her goal is to play front row and back row. If that’s the case, she’s going to have to be not only an offensive presence but also able to pass.”

Landfair knows she’ll have to continue to put in the work required to be a six-rotation player as a freshman in the Big Ten. It’s another challenge, though, she’s set on tackling. It’ll keep her still ahead of the curve.

“I have to stay level-headed and I can’t get big-headed and think I’m all that right now,” Landfair said. “Once I get to that level, everybody’s really good. Right now, everybody’s really good. I can’t take a play off or take a day off. I have to keep working and keep grinding and keep getting better.”

News-Gazette All-State volleyball Players of the Year

YEAR NAME SCHOOL

YEAR    NAME    SCHOOL
2018    Taylor Landfair    Plainfield Central

2017    Charley Niego    Mother McAuley

2016    Dana Rettke    Riverside-Brookfield

2015    Molly Haggerty    Wheaton St. Francis

2014    Molly Haggerty    Wheaton St. Francis

2013    Ali Frantti    Richmond-Burton

2012    Lauren Carlini    West Aurora

2011    Meghan Niski    St. Charles East

2010    Jocelynn Birks    Lyons Township

2009    Annemarie Hickey    Joliet Catholic

2008    Hannah Werth    Chatham Glenwood

2007    Kelly Farrell    Crystal Lake Central

2006    Kelly Murphy    Joliet Catholic

2005    Tara Hester    Naperville Central

2004    Sarah Kwasigroch    Sandburg

2003    Katie Brudzinski    Naperville North

2002    Meghan Macdonald    Downers Grove South

2001    Dani Nyenhuis    St. Charles East

2000    Ogonna Nnamani    Normal U-High

1999    Ogonna Nnamani    Normal U-High

1998    Elizabeth Gower    Naperville Central

1997    Mia Perry    Jacksonville

1996    Katie Schumacher    Mother McAuley

1995    Ryann Connors    Mother McAuley

1994    Tracy Black    Downers Grove South

1993    Terri Zemaitis    Downers Grove South

1992    Colleen Miniuk    St. Charles

1991    Marnie Triefenbach    Belleville West

1990    Marnie Triefenbach    Belleville West

1989    Tina Rogers    Mount Pulaski

1988    Eileen Shannon    Immaculate Conception

1987    Julie Bremner    Wheaton St. Francis

1986    Laura Bush    Stewardson-Strasburg

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