Preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS takes a broader look at the area’s volleyball scene heading into the 2019 season:
Q&A with St. Joseph-Ogden's Abby McDonald
After guiding the Sabers to consecutive Class 2A state tournament berths during a three-year run at STM, Stan Bergman will now try to bring similar success to Mahomet-Seymour.
What will last year’s run to a Class 2A sectional final do for this year’s team?
McDonald: The experience of playing at that level will be beneficial for our entire program. Those athletes that were part of the varsity team last season gained experience, as well as how to better handle a match of that caliber for the future. Our entire program now has the drive to continue to make a run in the postseason.
Who are some of your athletes we should be on the lookout for?
McDonald: Our entire senior class has one of the highest volleyball IQs I have ever had the privilege of coaching. They are extremely talented and have a great work ethic and drive to be successful. We also add junior Payton Vallee and sophomore Kennedi Burnett to the roster. They both have experience at the varsity level and will add to our large senior class as offensive and defensive threats.
What are the biggest challenges facing this year’s Spartans team?
McDonald: Our biggest challenge as a program is to utilize the large number of talented athletes that we have. Our program roster has 50 extremely talented athletes. We are excited about the number of athletes that are dedicating themselves to our program and the goals they have set for themselves. Our varsity roster has a lot of experience and talent on it as well. Growing and developing over the course of the season and focusing on improving in each and every opportunity we are given is going to be our focus and challenge this season.
Top 50 players to watch
NAME YR. POS. SCHOOL
Kanay Benschneider Sr. MH Centennial
Katelyn Berry Sr. OH St. Joseph-Ogden
Emily Bigger Sr. S St. Joseph-Ogden
Emma Bleecher Soph. OH Unity
Kyleigh Block Jr. S/OH Villa Grove
Kynzee Boastick Sr. S Urbana
Elise Bossenbroek Sr. MH/RS Champaign Central
Emma Bogen Sr. M/RS Schlarman
Tori Burke Sr. MH Clinton
Madie Burwell Jr. OH/MH Villa Grove
Haley Chaney Jr. L/MH Chrisman
Mira Chopra Jr. MH Champaign Central
Emma Clapp Sr. L BHRA
Cece Damilano Sr. S/RS Schlarman
Karli Dean Sr. MH Tuscola
Katie Dean Soph. OH Tuscola
Kayin Garner Sr. S Mahomet-Seymour
Lily Glanzer Sr. OH Unity
JerraLee Goad Jr. L Sullivan
Ella Godsell Sr. DS/L/OH Unity
Aliya Holloman Sr. MB/RS Heritage
Kaylenn Hunt Jr. MH Tri-County
Shelby Johnson Jr. OH Iroquois West
Kelly Jones Sr. OH Ridgeview
Lyla Kauffman Sr. S/RS Arthur Christian School
Caroline Kerr Soph. S St. Thomas More
Leah Luchinski Jr. S Centennial
Hannah Lunger Jr. S/RS Chrisman
Ella Mann Jr. S/RS/DS Cerro Gordo/Bement
Anna McClure Soph. OH St. Thomas More
Emily Meidel Sr. MB BHRALauren Minick Sr. OH Mahomet-Seymour
Addison Oyer Soph. OH Paxton-Buckley-Loda
Carly Pence Jr. MH Cissna Park
Haley Reynolds Sr. OH DeLand-Weldon
Kalen Roy Sr. S Monticello
Raevyn Russell Sr. RS Urbana
Abbie Schmidt Sr. S Paxton-Buckley-Loda
Lexi Sherrick Sr. L Rantoul
Morgan Shreves Jr. L LeRoy
Olivia Sorensen Sr. S/DS Heritage
Taylor Stal Sr. OH Georgetown-RF
Sarah Story Sr. OH/MB BHRA
Shelby Strack Sr. OH Cerro Gordo/Bement
Madelyn Tipsword Sr. MH Argenta-Oreana
Allie Trame Sr. MB St. Thomas More
Kaylee Warren Sr. S Milford
Addison Wichus Sr. DS Monticello
Ava Yoder Soph. MB Arthur Christian School
Katelyn Young Sr. MB Oakwood
Three tournaments to watch
Timberwolf Tip-Off, Aug. 26-29 & 31, at Cissna Park High
The first big local showcase for the 2019 season is filled with recently-strong small-school programs, including the hosts, Armstrong-Potomac, Oakwood and Watseka.
Bulldog Invitational, Sept. 14, at Mahomet-Seymour High
This offers an opportunity for Bulldogs fans to see their squad in intensive action under new coach Stan Bergman, in addition to opposing athletes from St. Joseph-Ogden and beyond.
Morgan Buerkett Invitational, Oct. 19, at St. Thomas More High
Every year, the Sabers host a powerhouse meet-up that, even at their strongest, they aren’t guaranteed to win. But it still offers a fine showing of area talent.