Prep Dig Chi-Town Classic – 18 Gamechangers From Gold Brackets
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An exciting weekend was had at the Prep Dig Chi-Town Classic at the Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park. Some players I had seen before, but there were a lot of new athletes who were extremely impressive. Athletes from Illinois,…
An exciting weekend was had at the Prep Dig Chi-Town Classic at the Wintrust Sports Complex in Bedford Park. Some players I had seen before, but there were a lot of new athletes who were extremely impressive. Athletes from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Nevada, and Wisconsin. A really unique combination of teams that created some fun matchups. Here are some athletes who came up big in the Gold Bracket – The Gamechangers.
Gabby Piazza – Belusa 18 United Cyclones
Gabby Piazza would be the MVP of the tournament. The six rotation outside hitter who is committed to Ferris State, a D2 school in Michigan, did a little bit of everything for her team. The Joliet West, Class of 2024 athlete has a very high contact point where she can blast away or use an off speed shot to keep the defense off balance. She also showed her ability to tool the block, a big time point scorer. However, Piazza is more than her swing. She is a primary passer in serve receive and can defend as well. Her intangibles are extremely positive where she is always hyping up her teammates, and as Piazza scores, her teammates tend to fuel off her momentum. I wasn’t familiar with Piazza before this tournament, but she’s now a name to know in the state of Illinois as well as the Midwest in the Class of 2024.
Sydney James – Underrated VBC 18-1
James and her Underrated squad came from Vegas to take on the Windy City. This team was fun to watch with a ton of athleticism and spark to their game. James is a six rotation outside hitter where she is a 2023 commit to Edmonds College in Washington. There is an electric style to James’ game where she can really fly on the pin to score points, hitting a variety of angles to put the ball away. She is also a really consistent defender, being one who can make the routine play look relatively easy.
Meg Pfannerstill – Wisconsin Ice 17 National
I’ve seen Pfannertstill play before, including Battle at the Bay where she had a pretty aggressive swing that landed square in the opponent’s face. She is a consistent scorer for this Wisconsin Ice team out of Wausau, Wisconsin that has notched some big wins this season. What I really enjoy about the game of Pfannerstill is that she isn’t afraid to go for the big swing, she is aggressive, she will go for it, and has a killer instinct mentality. Her game has caught my eye this spring and she would be a great get at the next level with her all around ability and aggressive swing.
Jocelyn Taveras – Underrated VBC 18-1
Taveras might have been one of the most dynamic players in the tournament. She was able to set, swing, and defend for her Vegas squad. As an attacker, she was able to take a big swing as well as make some offspeed shots go in her favor. Defensively, she has a huge range, she covers plenty of court and can get a touch on plenty to keep the rally going. Her athleticism is one of her best attributes where she just makes plays. There were a lot of moments where I asked, “How did she do that?”. An exciting athlete who was fun to watch throughout the entire weekend.
Kennedi Brass – Belusa United 18 Cyclones
Brass is a 2024 libero that I would have on my radar as a college coach. With great athleticism and range, Brass covers a lot of court. What really stands out is her efficient footwork which allows her to get to spot first, avoiding any necessary diving. She commands the backrow, she wants the ball, and she is able to get this dynamic offense in system. Brass is a Junior at Minooka HS and will be someone to keep tabs on over the summer, or get her on campus for a camp or visit.
Tenley Davis – Ignite 16 Elite
This Class of 2025 outside hitter is one to follow as we head into the summer season where she will compete at nationals as well as college camps. Davis has the athleticism and physicality to do a lot of special things on the outside. She can play six rotations and she is a total point scorer where she has a textbook approach and powerful swing. Davis preps at Chesterton (IN) where Northwest Indiana is loaded with some top talent. With what I saw this weekend of Davis, her best volleyball is ahead of her with a really strong foundation of fundamentals and a scorer’s mentality.
Mikaela Salinas – Ignite 16 Elite
Salinas was part of the 1-2 punch with Davis for Ignite 16 Elite as they took home the 16s title against their fellow club partners Ignite 16 Premier. Salinas showed her ability to fly on the pin to score points while also being a really steady defender. This team showed very little weakness over the weekend and that started with really steady ball control. Salinas was consistent and reliable which anyone will take that for a six rotation outside.
Amanda Bagdonaite and Samantha Bagdonaite – Belusa United 16 Ice
As cliche as it sounds, “Twinning is Winning” and that is the case with the Badonaite twins who were stellar for Belusa United 16s. Amanda is the libero and Samantha is the outside where they complement each other very well, but also have a lot of similarities in their game. I’m sure there is a lot of pepper going on in their household. Amanda commands the backrow and Samantha has a very high IQ on the pin where she can find the opening on the other side of the net. They both are really solid when it comes to serve receive and are able to get their side in system where they can open up plenty of options when it comes to scoring points.
and – Iowa Select 15 Mizuno
Iowa Select dominated the 15s field, the might have called one timeout all weekend. I will have a more indepth story on Iowa Select later this week because with their style, it’s tough to talk about one or two without talking about them all. However, the “M & Ms” of this team in(Kenzie) and Maren Oullette were lights out all weekend. What was most impressive for me was their ability to swing aggressively out of system. Most outside hitters who are playing at this level can put a ball away when its a perfect pass, but these two pins were doing it from the backrow as well as when the ball was coming from behind. They were able to utilize all of their shots. They could swing big down the line or deep cross and they could change it up with an off speed top spin shot. This team is scary good and will be in the hunt for an American Division title at USAV Nationals in Chicago later this summer.
– Ignite 15 Elite
This Ignite 15 Elite team had quite a spark this weekend where they were up for the challenge among some of the top teams in the field. One athlete on this team who caught our attention was. She has the foundation to be a big time outside hitter. She is long, athletic, and knows how to use her high contact point to score points. Her ability to transition, create space for herself to have options to score what impressive. Henson preps at Valpo High School where they will be graduating Clemson commit Kennedy Wagner, and there could be an opportunity for Henson to be an impact player. A common pattern I saw throughout the weekend is that NW Indiana is going to be a gauntlet of great teams once again heading into the 2023 high school season.
and – MWP 15 Elite
Midwest Penguins 15 Elite comes from the Waukesha, Wisconsin are where they have some very talented athletes who attend some top programs in the Milwaukee area.and were big time impact players throughout the weekend. Carr is a really unique talent where she can set and swing on the right side. She can put up quite a block and isn’t afraid to swing hair. She plays with a ton of fire. McMahon had a huge day on Saturday out of the middle where her hand contact and finding the open corner of the court was on point. This MWP squad has a lot of grit and balance, really fun vibe with this team where they love to compete.
Avery Mullin – Ignite 15 Elite
I love watching Avery Mullin celebrate, she wears her emotions on her sleeve and her celebration after a big kill can really spark her team to keep a rally going. Mullin is another Valpo High School prep where she has a really electric swing and can defend really well too.
Zamira Johnson and Izzy Davis – Club 1 Skronkstrong
These two were key for Club 1 all weekend where they had plenty of athleticism to highlight where they brought a lot of point scoring ability. They both had a combination of physicality and a motor where they could get off the net and cause havoc for the other side. This Club 1 team has a lot of balance and I can see where they have some athletes who could have a breakout season next fall as sophomores.
Luca Bombacino – Ignite 14 Elite
I don’t typically write about 14s, but Bombacino was one to watch among the 15s, she has a really bright future ahead and by the looks she will be heading to Chesterton to team up with Tenley Davis. Very exciting.