The Great Lakes Region is loaded with talent. Not only the top players from Illinois, but there are teams with athletes from Wisconsin and Indiana as well competing for these teams. I was able to be in attendance at the…
The Great Lakes Region is loaded with talent. Not only the top players from Illinois, but there are teams with athletes from Wisconsin and Indiana as well competing for these teams. I was able to be in attendance at the GLR Championships at Bedford Park where 15s-18s were looking to claim a title and a ticket to USAV Nationals. I was watching a lot of the 15s and 16s where I haven’t seen a lot of these athletes play yet this season. Here are some athletes to put on the radar who had impressive performances!
PHOTOS: Great Lakes Region – 15s/16s Championship Pools
Sydney Buchanan Sydney Buchanan 5'11" | OH Mother McAuley | 2025 IL and Kayla Birmingham Kayla Birmingham OH IL – 1st Alliance 16 Silver
This outside hitter duo was extremely tough to stop over the course of the weekend. Buchanan has a very active arms where she is really good with being able to cut the angles, but also use the block to her advantage. Her hang time allows her to really see the court and she pinpoints where she wants to put the ball. She has plenty of tricks in her arsenal that allows her to score points. Birmingham is solid all the way around. I noticed her defense in middle back and how steady she was before she even took a swing. A lot of outside hitters can score points, but find one that can do it all when it comes from holding down the middle back on defense and can serve receive consistently like Birmingham.
Abigail Williams – Michio 16 National
Extremely well trained and fundamentally sound, Williams was so solid on the pin for her Michio 16 National team. When Williams is attacking, she has textbook footwork with a high and solid contact point. She is able to take her shot down the line, cross court, or use the block to score points. This was my first time seeing Michio 16 National play and was really impressed with their balance and vibe as a team. They finished fourth overall.
Kyndal James Kyndal James MB IL – Adversity 16 Adidas
James was extremely efficient and knew what to do every time she was set. She was money running the quick tempo off setter, April Rice April Rice 5'11" | S Lemont | 2025 IL . She found the corner multiple times where she took advantage of every opportunity. Adversity lost the first set in their semifinal match against Sky High, but what really picked up the last two sets was their ability to use James out of the middle and they really stepped up their blocking game as well. James is on the radar now where she is one who can play big in big moments.
Leah Freesemann Leah Freesemann 6'1" | OH Burlington Central | 2025 IL – Top Flight 16 Elite
Freeseman has a lot of ability starting with how she can approach and sky to the ball. Top Flight has entered the chat in regards to top teams to take a look at in the Great Lakes Region. This 16s team will have an exciting spring where they will have a chance to knock off some top teams. With Freeseman on the pin, this team always has an outlet and a swing out of season. As her backcourt game improves, she will be really scary where teams will have her swing to defend in every rotation.
Mary Deacy – Michio 16 National
The more volleyball I watch, the teams who are able to consistently win seem to have a right side who can score points. Deacy does that for Michio where she has a heavy swing. She is long, strong, and athletic. Her length on the right side allows her to contribute with her block and with her swing. There were times where she was able to tool the block and could swing out of multiple front row positions. I’ve previously mentioned that Michio has a lot of balance and with someone on the right side who can score gives their setters plenty of options.
Amira Boone Amira Boone 5'10" | OH DePaul College Prep | 2025 IL and Tewa Woodson Tewa Woodson 5'9" | OH Oak Park And River Forest | 2025 IL – Adversity 16 Purple
These two attackers were a scary duo for Adversity 16 Purple where they were a 1-2 punch all weekend. They play with such an electric energy where their successes are contagious to the rest of their team. This team knocked off 1st Alliance 16 Silver in pool play, but lost out in a three way tiebreaker. This doesn’t take away from their performance where they are capable of knocking off some big teams. Boone and Woodson have big swings and they have no fear when they go up for a rip. After watching plenty of 16s matches, the ones who continue to go for the swing, eventually find a way to rip and score consistently the more they put themselves in that situation. Well done.
Ava Wysocki Ava Wysocki RS IL – Sky High 16 Elite
Watching Wysocki approach and spring is pretty impressive. She has to be touching ten feet and she can hit some pretty gnarly angles. When Sky High played Adversity in the semifinals, Wysocki was on fire on the outside. Her downward angle is different when it comes to most athletes at the 16s level. What is most impressive is that she has a major upside to her game where she will be able to develop a backcourt game, use various off speed shots, and vary up her approach angles where she will really be tough to stop. What is also enjoyable about her game is that she plays with a smile, she has good vibes on the court and has positive intangibles from what I can see on the sideline.
Other Notable Attackers at GLR 16s
Uma Schulz Uma Schulz 6'2" | MB Deerfield | 2025 IL – Sky High 16 Elite
Chase Grevengoed – Michio 16 Premier
Emma Delaney – Team One 16 Onyx
Peyton Strout Peyton Strout 5'10" | MB Central (Burlington) | 2026 IL – Top Flight 16 Elite
Aaliyah Cage Aaliyah Cage 5'8" | MB Lake Park | 2025 IL – Top Flight 16 Elite
Katherine McGregor Katherine McGregor OH IL – Adversity 16 Adidas
Emmerson Heun – Epic United 16 Elite