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Glen Ellyn

No. 1 seeds in hand for Glenbard South, Glenbard West

Erica Benson -
Glenbard West's Alison Burelbach bumps the ball during a match against York on Oct. 1. The Hilltoppers start postseason play on Tuesday.
Erica Benson - Glenbard West's Alison Burelbach bumps the ball during a match against York on Oct. 1. The Hilltoppers start postseason play on Tuesday.

The volleyball postseason begins on Monday for all classes, but because they both earned No. 1 sectional seeds, Glenbard South and Glenbard West have byes into the Class 4A regional quarterfinals on Tuesday. The Raiders and Hilltoppers  all start the postseason with the same goal – to reach Redbird Arena in Normal, home to the state finals for all classes Nov. 15 and 16.

Glenbard South

Regional: Hinsdale South

Sectional: Morton

First match: 6 p.m. Tues., Oct. 29, vs. No. 16 Jones or No. 17 Morton

Outlook: With a record of 26-6, the Raiders received the No. 1 seed at the Class 4A Morton sectional. The 4A is not a misprint; the squad petitioned the IHSA to bump up a class for this year and next.

Glenbard South is led by the hitting duo of Tarah Valdez (218 kills and 224 digs) and Kenzie Watterson (232 kills, 174 digs and 32 aces). Setter Alex LaPonte has dished out 661 assists while middle Sydney Bauman has added 131 kills and 70 blocks.

“My team has surpassed their own expectations for this season,” head coach Chad Grant said. “While inconsistency has been an issue at times, it was kind of expected with only three seniors on the roster. We have been able to fight through it and win a lot of matches, but we are hoping to find that consistency going into the state tournament.”

The Raiders play the winner of Morton and Jones in their playoff opener and, with a win, would see either Hinsdale Central or Hinsdale South in the regional final Oct. 31.

“There are a lot of very young and talented teams in this sectional,” the coach added. “In my eyes, there is really not a whole lot of separation between the top 11 teams. It is going to come down to how teams match up with each other, what team executes better and how the young players on each team handle the playoff pressure.”

Glenbard West

Regional: West Chicago

Sectional: Geneva

First match: 6 p.m. Tues., Oct. 29, vs. No. 15 Glenbard North or No. 17 Streamwood

Outlook: After posting a record of 37-3 in 2012, the Hilltoppers have nearly equaled that mark this fall.

Coming off a second-place finish at the Glenbard East Autumnfest Invite over the weekend, the squad again has reached the 30-win plateau. Offensively, the team is led by sophomore outside hitter Natalie Schilling while four-year varsity player Meg DeMaar is the linchpin of the defense from her libero position. Alison Burelbach and Abby Winkler have also been major contributors.

“We’ve gotten better and better each week,” Glenbard West coach Pete Mastandrea said. “Our defense, a thing which would have been a question mark coming into the season, has really picked up. DeMaar is a Player of the Year candidate, and Winkler and Burelbach are two of the finest playmakers we’ve had.

“And we’ve got some kids who can put the ball away. Schilling is the real deal and I’m glad she is on our team.”

Glenbard West was rewarded with the No. 1 seed at the Geneva sectional and will begin the playoffs against the winner of Glenbard North and Streamwood. With a win, the Hilltoppers would then see either Schaumburg or West Chicago in the regional final Oct. 31.

Rounding out the top four seeds in the sectional are St. Charles North, St. Charles East and Geneva.

“In the playoffs, you can’t look ahead,” Mastandrea said. “You can’t underestimate Streamwood and Glenbard North. And whichever of Schaumburg or West Chicago would be a really tough regional championship match.”

A year ago, the Hilltoppers captured the sectional title before losing to New Trier in the supersectional.

St. Francis

Regional: Timothy Christian

Sectional: Coal City

First match: 6 p.m. Tues., Oct. 29, vs. No. 4 Wheaton Academy or No. 5 Timothy Christian

Outlook: The Spartans’ hopes for defending their state title were dealt a blow with the loss of Maddie Haggerty to a shoulder injury. But don’t think for a second that St. Francis doesn’t have enough firepower to still get the job done.

Led by outside hitter Molly Haggerty, Maddie’s younger sister, the Spartans have won 30 matches for a 28th consecutive season.

The defense is led by libero Sam Dubiel, who coach Peg Kopec says is perhaps the best she has had, while setter Natalie Murison and opposite Becca Shearer have also been major contributors.

St. Francis is the top seed at the Timothy Christian Class 3A regional and will open up against either the host Trojans or Wheaton Academy. Nazareth or Montini, both with more than 20 wins, would await in the regional final Oct. 31.

A potential matchup with Joliet Catholic would occur in the sectional semifinal Nov. 5.

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