Hinsdale Central’s Meghan McDowell stakes claim as area’s top setter
Hinsdale Central girls volleyball Meghan McDowell will play at Virginia next season. | George M. Wilcox—Sun-Times Media
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. Jessica Brezwyn, Hinsdale South: The Darien resident is one of the area’s top returning hitters, but the Hornets (27-10) lost a lot of firepower from its West Suburban Gold championship team. The 5-10 Brezwyn, an outside hitter, committed to North Carolina-Greensboro last month and played for Sports Performance in the AAU Junior Olympics in Orlando, Fla., in June. She will be the main offensive target for returning setter Sharon Anderson.
2. Hannah Juley, Lyons: The sophomore setter from La Grange should be ready for prime time this season. The 5-10 Juley played an outside hitter position last season. The apprenticeship is over and Juley will run an offense led by Alyssa Keeve and Catherine King. To prepare for this season, Juley went to a setting camp at Long Beach State, where her older sister sets for the 49ers. Hannah’s sister, Erin, led Lyons to the Class 4A state championship in 2010.
3. Emily Milligan, Nazareth: One club coach described Milligan as the “top libero in the state now.” But Milligan faces a challenge for that title within her own hometown of La Grange Park. Her former elementary school classmate, Benet senior Sheila Boyle, is another top libero and played for the state champions last season. Milligan was the top defensive player for Western Springs-based 1st Alliance 17 Silver in the spring.
4. Kiley Nelson, Oak Park-River Forest: Nelson is one of two standout players at OPRF, which could give favored Glenbard West a challenge in the wide-open West Suburban Silver. The 5-11 Nelson, a junior middle hitter, played for Lions Jrs. in the offseason and went through a learning experience last season for the Huskies (15-21). One club coach said: “She’s very quick and very smart.”
5. Amy Schembari, Oak Park-River Forest: Nelson’s setter will also play right-side hitter for the Huskies when her rotation sends her to the front row. Schembari was an All-American at the AAU Junior Olympics for Lions Jrs. 15-1. Schembari and Nelson should make a potent combination for coach Don August. They both played for 1st Alliance 16 Black in the offseason.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:53AM
The movie “Unbreakable” featured a character easily prone to broken bones, as if he was made out of glass.
New Hinsdale Central coach Kelly Moran has seen the movie, but sometimes feels like she is living it as well.
Moran has entered a exciting position at Hinsdale Central as a young coach with perhaps one of the Chicago area’s top setters already prepared to start for the Red Devils.
The only problem is that 6-foot-3 Meghan McDowell has had a mighty difficult time staying healthy during her career.
“On the first day of tryouts, she had a sprained ankle,” Moran said.
McDowell verbally committed to Virginia nearly a year ago and plans on cementing her agreement with the Cavaliers in November on the first day of the signing period. She will become the only player from the Midwest for Virginia, which recruits heavily from Texas.
Moran was already familiar with McDowell when she took over the job after previous coach Sheralynn Kellough decided not to return after giving birth to twins.
McDowell plays club volleyball for Aurora-based Sports Performance and Moran was a club coach for Sports Elite, an club affiliated with Sports Performance in Barrington.
“I know her a lot from last club season,” Moran said. “Wednesday at Sports Performance we had setters training (together).”
Moran also saw McDowell at a nine-day setting academy run by Sports Performance. Moran was a defensive specialist at Hersey, but began her high school career as a setter during her freshman and sophomore seasons.
This season, McDowell might be counted on to do a lot more than setting for the Devils (20-18, 4-2 West Suburban Silver) with the graduation of top hitter Ally Davis, who is now at Michigan.
Hinsdale Central’s tallest returning hitter is 6-foot-2 senior middle Dominique Millette.
“Meghan is really a leader of her teammates,” Moran said. “She and Lucy Crofton were named captains. When the team does not work hard enough, I know she’ll tell them to work harder. She knows she can always come to me and I’ll address it.”
McDowell will not follow her brother Scott to Illinois. Scott is a former Hinsdale Central offensive lineman who is a 6--6, 290-pound redshirt freshman lineman for the Illini.
Last season, Meghan sustained an injury to her right foot and was shut down after the first six matches of the season. She has a lot more invested in this season, her final one for the Devils, which begins Friday and Saturday at the Benet Invitational in Lisle. ~.