Girls Volleyball: Summer bummer? Not for Palos Courts League champ Lincoln-Way North
BY PHIL BROZYNSKI For Sun-Times Media August 11, 2014 9:58PM
In something of a surprising finale, Lincoln-Way North defeated Providence 25-14, 25-20 behind three-sport star Valen Manns to win the summer league title at Palos Courts. | Supplied photo
Updated: September 13, 2014 6:24AM
The Palos Courts Tuesday-Thursday Summer League provided more than a few surprises.
None was greater than in the season-ending tournament, which saw Pool A top seed Lincoln-Way East and Pool B No. 1 Sandburg make early exits.
The 22 teams participating in the summer league met for the final time July 31 in Palos Heights, with the top 16 teams participating in the Gold playoffs and the remaining six in the Silver playoffs. Five hours after the tournament started, Lincoln-Way North was the last team standing.
The Phoenix, led by three-sport star Valen Manns, outside hitters Rachel Burkman and Allyson Cappel, and ironman setter Amanda Rockrohr, defeated Providence 25-14, 25-20 to walk home with the summer league title.
Manns did most of the damage for Lincoln-Way North (13-1). The 5-foot-11 middle hitter pounded four kills during a 6-0 run that extended what had been a tenuous 11-9 lead in Set 1, then pushed the lead to 21-13 with an ace before Cappel closed the books on the set with a blast down the line.
Manns is coming off a three-month run that saw her high school soccer team finish fourth in the state and her club volleyball team — Ultimate 17 Gold — take fifth in the Premier Division at AAUs. Manns was named an All-American.
“She plays three sports — volleyball, basketball and soccer — and she’s excellent in all of them,” North volleyball coach Mary Brown said. “There are schools looking at her, but she has not made a decision yet. I don’t think she’s 100 percent sure yet between volleyball and soccer.”
Providence (11-3) was down 15-11 in Set 2 before rallying to tie at 17. But Cappel broke the tie with a kill and Ally Morrow chipped in with two kills to extend the lead to 23-19. The match ended on a Kylie Snyder kill and a Providence hitting error.
“I lost four seniors and have three returning starters who aren’t here,” Brown said. “My libero is in a back brace, my other setter is in North Carolina at 10-day medical summer camp and my other middle is at softball nationals. But I talked to other coaches and they’re all missing a player or two.”
The Phoenix reached the finals by defeating Stagg 25-11, 25-11, Lockport 25-20, 25-23 and Sandburg 25-23, 26-24. Sandburg had beaten Lincoln-Way North in pool play despite the absence of setter Sami Knight.
“I’m just thrilled to win this,” Brown said. “I have a lot of great players, a lot of great athletes, and I really don’t have a hole in the lineup. Every year it seems like there’s one or two spots missing. This year, I don’t feel like I have any holes.
“It’s just making them a team. Anybody who coached volleyball will tell you, you can have six of the best athletes, but unless they work well together it won’t matter. That will be my challenge. Getting them to work well together and figuring out the puzzle.”