Patriot Athletic Conference
By Joe Ostrica and Ryan Kaczmarski
New Brookside High School volleyball head coach Karlee Bruck hopes the Lady Cardinals can continue their winning tradition in her first year on the sidelines. Former head coach Ted Whitsel, who stepped down after 14 seasons, left Brookside with back-to-back Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championships as well as a 35-game winning streak in conference play.
After losing its first two matches, Brookside bounced back to beat Brooklyn Aug. 28 in three straight sets to keep its PAC winning streak intact. The Lady Cardinals won the first epic set 31-29. After winning the next set 25-8, Brookside completed the sweep with a 25-17 win.
Junior middle hitter Tyller Holley led the squad with 10 kills. Sophomore middle hitter Mary Williams had nine kills. Holley also had one solo block and three assist blocks. Williams finished with two solo blocks.
Sophomore setter Natalee Halkiadakis led the team with 32 assists. Senior outside hitter Morgan Brinkman had 12 digs. Junior libero Lisa Campo had six digs.
Rounding out the Cardinals roster are seniors Celina Rock and Marissa Bias; juniors Isabel Phillips, Olivia Erying and Emily Tilberg; and sophomore Miranda Verlato.
The Lutheran West High School squad took a step backward in 2012, finishing with a PAC record of 8-8 (11-12 overall), but still managed to make it to the district finals.
“Last year’s team fell short of expectations, but had a good year,” Longhorns head coach Stephanie Roberts said.
They do have many returning players, mixed in with some key newcomers.
“Senior Emilie Hausmann is a force on the outside, and senior Carey Smith is strong on the right side playing all the way around,” Roberts said. “Junior Anne Kennedy is a returning middle and puts up a big block. Junior Alexis Rivera is a returning defensive player moving into the libero spot. Junior Callie Grenig is a returning outside defensive player. She is aggressive and a great communicator.
The key newcomers are senior Lindsay Hosko, who was out with an injury last season; juniors Gabby Schultz and Johanna Ragland; sophomore Abby DeSimpelare and freshman Margaux Thompson.
“We need sophomore setter Abby DeSimpelare to keep up the great work and continue being a strong leader,” Roberts said. “Outsides Emilie Hausmann and Margaux Thompson need to keep putting the ball away. Carey Smith, Alexis Rivera and Callie Grenig need to keep passing well. Alexis needs to lead our defense as libero. Anne Kennedy and Gabby Schutlz need to keep blocking well and running quick offense.”
Also going 8-8 in the PAC last season was Fairview High School, and second-year head coach Mary Kate Kempf is looking for the Warriors to step up and take a conference title this season.
“We want to beat our overall record and conference record from last year,” she said. “We also want to get to districts this year.”
The key returning letter winners are seniors Marisa Rinehart (setter), Brianna Kovacevich (middle hitter) and Morgan Burns (outside hitter); junior Sammie Anderson; and sophomore Sarah Haagensen (outside hitter).
“We are strong and fast, with aggressive serving,” Kempf said. “To succeed, we need to quicken the pace of play, and continue to push ourselves to a higher level.”
Magnificat High School had a somewhat down season last year, finishing with a 12-12 record, but the Blue Streaks return six letter winners and are ready to return to championship form.
The returning girls are Michaela Gabanic (opposite side hitter), Shannon Grega (libero), Nicole Keshock (outside hitter), Megan Grace (outside hitter), Claire Lambert (setter) and Kelly Sullivan (outside hitter).
“We want to improve on last year’s record,” head coach Mike Cannon said. “We need to stay together in tough matches, and see improvement right up to our playoff run.”