Grayslake Central is off to a strong start; Barrington always perfect


With a 10-6 record, the Grayslake Central women’s volleyball team is off to a winning start this season.

“We’re a senior heavy team this year,” Rams coach Arian Colton said. “However, we have three sophomores and two freshmen who play vital roles.” Seniors Ella Tews (MH), Karolina Pintinas (OH) and Charley Topp (OH) lead the offense with 64, 63 and 60 kills respectively in the first three weeks of the season.

Rookie Madalene Meckl is the Rams’ libero.

“She plays really good defense and displays an awareness of the field and the game that goes way beyond what a typical freshman displays,” Colton said.

Meckl leads the team with digs (56) closely followed by senior defensive specialist Catherine Guckenberger with 50.

“The combination of senior experience and underclass talent is a good thing,” Colton said. “And we’re delighted to see the dynamic continue to evolve as the season progresses.”

Have fun in Fremd:

Former Palatine women’s volleyball assistant Pete Gavin, now in his first year as Fremd’s head coach, gave the Vikings an 8-5 start.

“I can’t tell you how much fun I’m having coaching this team,” said Gavin, whose brother Dan is Palatine’s head coach. “They are serious, tough and want to learn every day.”

The Vikes have their impressive record despite only one player returning.

Kate Pfister started 3 matches last year as a midfielder.

“Victoria Belmonte would have been a returner as well but injured her knee this summer,” Gavin said. “We know there will be ups and downs, but I believe in this team and more importantly, they believe in themselves.”


Lemay intensifies:

Wauconda had to replace his passer from a 5-1 offense in 2021.

“We started the season looking to fill that role,” Bulldogs coach Becky Muff said.

She found her player in Delaney Lemay.

“She established herself as a leader on the court by being ready to play any position I asked of her,” Muff said. “We are also seeing huge top-level leadership from the right side Mikayla Zacharias.”

Muff also said juniors Emily Lisi and Lauren Aldrich help out bowling and down the middle with their ability to be diverse along the net.

Defense Jewel:

Hersey coach Laura Gerber says libero Elizabeth Avirmed is a game-changer.

“She’s a great libero and she knows the game really well,” said Gerber, the first-year coach of the Huskies whose club is off to a 7-4 start. “Leah Nawrot is becoming a very strong outside player with great potential. She can hit a nice variety of shots and is a very strong blocker.”

Relentless game:

The Daily Herald’s top-ranked side Barrington have shown resilience en route to their 14-0 record this fall.

Four times the fillies have lost a first set to come back and win in two.

With Campbell Paris sidelined through injury, Fillies coach Michelle Jakubowski slotted Hope Regas into the outside sweet spot.

“And she played really well,” said the veteran coach who led the team to a third-place finish in the 2021 Class 4A State Finals.

Nice comeback:

Carmel’s Claire Parker suffered a labral tear that ended her second season before it even started.

The junior setter opted for surgery and has been fighting ever since.

“A passer is always a vital part of a team’s success, but Claire had to endure even more than usual,” Corsairs coach David Pazely said. “She had a solid summer camp and proved she was ready to take on the burden or lead our offense 5-1. We spent a lot of time working on hitters and passers to find their rhythm and Claire was able to deliver.”

She helped the Corsairs achieve key victories.

“His distribution against Lakes and St. Viator was great,” Pazely said. “And even if the hitters get credit for the eliminations, it wouldn’t have happened without Claire.”

True leader:

Carmel coach David Pazely says his junior libero and captain Isa Sfwiatkowski is one of the best leaders he has worked with in his career.

“She takes the time to work with her teammates before, during and after training to help them develop their skills as well as their mental preparation,” Pazely said. “She puts extra time and effort into herself, both in the weight room and in the gym. As a result, she is able to perform in any position on the court.”

Sfwiatkowki’s efforts helped accelerate the development of the Corsairs’ defensive specialists.

“As a result, we were able to overcome some injuries by moving one of those defensive specialists to the Libero and Isa to an opposing hitter,” the coach said.

“Not many Liberos are capable of playing front row as well. Isa doesn’t just do it, she does it well. She made clutch blocks, made big kills, strengthened our defense and served-received with his libero skills and pushed us to victory as a result.”


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