HINSDALE SOUTH GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW
COACH: Lisa Martinez (7th season, 132-94 record)
2010 RESULTS: 32-7 overall record; 6-0 in West Suburban Conference Gold Division (1st place); lost to Edwardsville 25-17, 25-20 in Class 4A Normal West Super-Sectional
RETURNING STARTERS: Seniors Karly Jerden (5-8 RS/OH) and Melissa Nava (6-0 OH/MH); and juniors Sharon Anderson (5-8 S) and Jessica Brezwyn (5-10 OH)
OTHER VARSITY RETURNEES: Senior Maura O’Donnell (5-8 RS/OH); juniors Rachel Kent (6-0 RS/OH), Colleen Lyons (5-9 RS/OH), Emily Mihalkanin (5-7 S) and Catherine Pinas (5-3 L); and sophomore Jackie Adelphia (5-11 RS/MH)
VARSITY NEWCOMERS: Seniors Amy Brand (5-3 DS), Alecia Kroeger (5-11 MH) and Trina Tindall (5-6 DS); juniors Sam Noble (5-10 MH/RS), Catherine Pinas (5-3 L) and Greta Rainis (5-8 OH); and freshman Renee Bialas (5-2 L)
OUTLOOK: Martinez enters this season with a different feeling.
“When I walked in this gym, especially after working with this group during summer camp, it’s the first time I had that feeling in my belly,” Martinez said. “Every year, I always think state’s possible. This year I said, ‘I know it’s possible.’
“There’s a big difference between knowing and believing. It’s just putting the pieces in the right places, everything coming together.”
The Hornets are off to a 4-4 start against some strong competition, but, as proven again last year, Martinez has had a knack for getting her team to play their best come tournament time. In 2010, the Hornets outlasted higher-seeded Hinsdale Central and Benet in back-to-back three-set matches to win their first sectional title since 2006 before the Elite Eight loss to Edwardsville, which went on to finish third in Class 4A.
This year’s team returns four starters – fourth-year starter Nava, third-year starters Anderson and Brezwyn, the team’s tri-captains, and Jerden. Kroeger, a transfer from Nebraska, has been a welcome addition.
Last year’s postseason run has kept the Hornets from once again being underdogs in 2011. They entered 2011 in everybody's pre-season rankings, including a No. 2 rating from one publication.
“I hate that we were ranked No. 2. I hate it. I think it’s a target on our back,” Martinez said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and I will stick by that forever. If you can continue to build and build, that’s important. My whole thought process (last postseason) was we were playing great volleyball day in and day out and we could beat anyone
and as long as I did my homework and those kids were prepared, we could be that way.”
Outside hitter Brezwyn and middle hitter Nava return as big weaponswith Anderson the primary setter along with Mihalkanin, also a strong defensive player.
Nava and Brezwyn were all-conference last season and Anderson was all-conference in 2009. During this past club volleyball season, Anderson won an Amateur Athletic Union national championship with her 1st Alliance 16 Silver team, and Brezwyn earned AAU All-American honors with the Sports Performance 16 Elite team. Nava, set to play next season for the University of Illinois at Chicago, joined the 1st Alliance 17 Silver team and played at the USA Volleyball Nationals.
“I want to send Melissa away to college with a (state championship) medal around her neck,” Martinez said. “There’s a special group of girls out there. There’s other seniors, kids that are great teammates and great people that I want them having this as their best high school memory. That the hours they put in, the time they put in, that it was all worth it at the end.”
Adelphia and O’Donnell, arguably the Hornets’ best passer, also return as outside hitters, Pinas and Bialas are battling for the libero spot and Kent also will be a key contributor. Pinas transferred last year from Montini.
Martinez said Krueger played club volleyball for Nebraska Elite and at a smaller high school that was a perennial state power.
“She’s a great kid, great work ethic, love her to pieces,” Martinez said. “We’ve had transfers before where you get uber excited but this kid’s panned out. She’s going to help our program, a great attitude and she comes from a high school with tradition.”
In a big season opener Aug. 24 in Darien, Hinsdale South lost to fellow 2010 Class 4A Elite Eight team Marist 25-22, 25-15. The Hornets finished fourth at the Plainfield North Invitational Aug. 26-27 with a 3-2 overall record and lost at home to Class 3A state title contender Joliet Catholic 25-21, 23-25, 26-24 Aug. 30.
Statistics leaders against JCA were Brezwyn (16 kills), Anderson (34 assists, 3 blocks), Nava (8 kills, 9 digs), Kent (8 kills), Kroeger (4 kills, 12 blocks) and Pinas (12 digs). At Plainfield North, the Hornets lost to Rosary 25-21, 25-23 for third place and eventual champion Huntley 25-16, 25-20 in the semifinals after sweeping Bolingbrook, Crystal Lake South and Oswego East in pool play.
On Tuesday, the Hornets opened Gold play with a 25-11, 25-17 victory at Leyden. The Hornets are going for a third consecutive conference championship for only the second time in program history. Hinsdale South won five consecutive titles from 1985-89.
KEYS TO SUCCESS: “The biggest thing we’re lacking right now is leadership. All of these kids are nice kids. (And) finding that last piece of the puzzle," Martinez said. "It’s not so much skillwise. It’s just that little piece that we can fill in here and there.”