2007 Beacon-News All-Area volleyball team members shine at college level
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org September 13, 2011 6:06PM
Rosary graduate Christine Hartmann is now a redshirt junior setter at the University of Kentucky. | Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky.
Updated: November 10, 2011 9:34AM
They made headlines, dominating the local high school volleyball scene in the fall of 2007 on their way to earning Beacon News All-Area First team honors. Six were seniors, one was a junior.
Four years later, these Super Seven are all still playing. They represent seven different college programs in five different states.
Heading the list is former Player of the Year and Rosary outside hitter/setter Christine Hartmann, who is now a redshirt junior who sets for the University of Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference.
It includes the following who are now all college seniors: Waubonsie Valley libero Katrina Boryc (George Mason) and setter Kassie Kadera (Toledo); Batavia setter/outside hitter Kristin Hoffman (Northern Illinois); Geneva setter Jenny Pokorny (Valparaiso); and Yorkville outside hitter Kristina Hefferan (University of Indianapolis). The lone junior on that 2007 team, Rosary left side hitter Lindsey Weber, is now a junior at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).
We checked in with all of them before their fall seasons started:
University of Kentucky
Christine Hartmann did it all, or so it seemed, in her dual role (S/OH) in leading Rosary to 31 wins her senior year of high school. She led the team in assists and was second in kills, blocks, digs and aces.
“I wasn’t expecting to redshirt as a freshman, but it turned out to be a better opportunity,” said the 5-foot-11 Hartmann, who is from St. Charles.
Coach Craig Skinner explained his decision: “If they’re ready to play, it’s up for grabs, an open competition. But we had a two-year returning setter who was all-conference and second team All-America. I didn’t want (Hartmann) to waste a year of eligibility.”
The next year, then, Hartmann was ready to go, only to be sidelined most of the season by mono.
“We found out about five minutes before our first practice,” said Skinner, who had to go with a senior who would go on to earn Player of the Year honors in the powerful SEC. Hartmann did see action in 10 matches, though, and came back to split time last season with freshman Elizabeth Kobertstein.
Hartmann started most of the matches and finished with more than 1,000 assists, averaging 9.44-per-set. This year, the Wildcats are off to a 9-2 start and the duo are again splitting time, although Kobertstein has had most of the starts.
“Last year the hardest thing was working as a team,” Hartmann said. “We were up and down. (This year) I think we definitely have a strong chance of returning to the NCAAs. Florida and Tennessee are always strong in the conference but we’re improved over last year.”
The Wildcats had their sixth straight consecutive winning season under Skinner and sixth straight NCAA appearance last year, bowing out against Purdue in a match Hartmann where had a career-best seven kills. She’s had eight matches with 40 or more assists in her short career.
“At this point (making the NCAA) is more of an expectation than a goal,” Skinner said. “Christine has really come a long way and she’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
University of Toledo
Kassie Kadera has had an unexpected but pleasant run at the University of Toledo, where she started this season directing the team’s offense from the setter position for the fourth year.
“I certainly didn’t expect to start and was a little intimidated (that first year),” said Kadera, who played in all 31 of the team’s matches as a bright-eyed freshman. “I went insane, mentally. It was kind of a shock jumping into a starting role, there was no way I expected that.”
The 5-8 senior has grown into it, though, and hasn’t missed starting a match since. That includes a coaching change after her first year.
As a sophomore and junior she earned All-Mid-American Conference second team honors while quarterbacking her team. She entered this, her final year, ranked third on the Rockets’ all-time assist list (3,683). Last year she ranked third in the league by averaging 10.87 assists-per-set after leading the league at 10.91 the previous season.
“Kassie has continued to improve as a setter each year and possesses a good understanding of what we want out of our offense,” coach Greg Smith said. “She’s also a tremendous leader, and that’s what you need from the setter position.”
She earned tourney MVP honors of Toledo’s Rocket Classic last season after helping engineer a 3-2 upset of 12th-ranked Michigan and had season-high assist marks of 64 in the regular season in wins over Akron and Northern Illinois.
“As a setter you have to do multiple things,” said Kadera, who would like to coach at the college level some day and has started by coaching club ball in the spring.
“You can’t be selfish. We don’t get a lot of credit and you have a lot on your plate, but I enjoy the leadership aspect of it and being the quarterback of the team.”
Jenny Pokorny has played multiple roles for coach Carin Avery’s highly successful program at Valparaiso University. The Crusaders have had nine straight seasons with 20 or more wins for Avery, who took the reins in 2002.
A setter for coach KC Johnsen at Geneva, Pokorny played in 22 matches and averaged 3.0 assists-per-set as a freshman for Valpo. She branched out as a sophomore, playing 97 sets in 32 matches as a true utility player. She saw action on the right side, in the back row and as setter. The 5-11 Pokorny was second on the team in assists and third in digs and made the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll both semesters.
“That year I was actually more of a right side hitter and back row specialist,” Pokorny said. “I actually had a lot of fun.”
Last season, Pokorny played in a 130 sets for the 27-8 Crusaders and again put up good numbers: 1.40 kills-per-set, 10.48 assists, 2.78 digs and 1.87 points.
“This year, I just want to be a great leader, I think that’s really important because somebody has to take charge,” Pokorny said.
This year, she’s back at setter, averaging 9.55-per-set to go with 1.13 kills as Valpo has opened with seven wins in its first 11 matches.
“We’ve had a lot of success, we’ve been pretty consistently good but we haven’t made it to the NCAA Tournament yet. That would be nice.”
Lindsey Weber, IUPUI
Lindsey Weber, a 5-10 outside hitter, played in all 30 of IUPUI’s matches as a freshman, starting 29 of them. Her 235 kills ranked third on the team, which went 20-10 in coach Steve Payne’s most successful year at the school.
“It’s been going really well, although it was kind of a rough year last year,” the junior health science major said.
As a sophomore, Weber was one of the team’s top hitters before being sidelined by a foot injury. She had seven double-digit kill performances in 21 matches, including a career-best 27 kills and 11 digs in a four-set win over DePaul.
“I had a stress fracture and was out the rest of the season. It was very frustrating,” Weber said. “It happened in mid-November. It was hard to not play.
“I was back to full strength in March and have been working out all summer to be ready for this season. I played some sand volleyball in the summer and I’m hoping to just stay healthy.”
Said Payne, “Any time you have an injury like that it’s a little bit of a setback but I think when she wasn’t playing she learned a lot just by watching.”
The Jaguars opened this season with four straight losses against a very tough field at Northern Illinois but have won five of seven matches since and look to be ready to bounce back from last year’s disappointing 8-22 season
George Mason University
Katrina Boryc didn’t even have to change colors, simply moving from the green and gold of Waubonsie Valley to those of George Mason, a D-I school located in Fairfax, Va., just minutes from Washington D.C.
“I love it,” said the 5-7 Boryc, who has been a key defensive contributor for coach Pat Kendrick’s Patriots all four years. “I could not have imagined not playing college (volleyball).”
A nursing major who would like to go on to become a physician’s assistant, Boryc led the team with 244 digs as a freshman and saw action in all its matches her first three years. She earned a Colonial Athletic Commissioners Academic Award as a sophomore and is constantly on the go. That applies to her activities both on and off the court.
Boryc is also president of the Student Athletics Advisory Council at George Mason and because of the demands of her major, it sometimes seems like “I pretty much eat in my car,” she said.
Kendrick is understanding.
“We sometimes tease her about being a visitor because she’s had to miss some practice time, but the major is what it is,” Kendrick said. “If you’re learning to put in an IV that day, you want to be there.
“Besides, Katrina has got a great attitude. She came in and from Day 1, personality-wise, she’s kind of been like a team mom. She does a good job of getting people going in the right direction.”
The Patriots’ best season (so far) in Boryc’s tenure was her sophomore year, when they went 23-9 and won the Colonial Athletic Association title and made it to the NCAA Tournament.
Northern Illinois University
Kristin Hoffman has gotten better and better and played more and more throughout her career at Northern after playing in 24 matches as a freshman and 25 as a sophomore, when she split time at setter.
“I came in hoping to compete for a spot and I had a good opportunity,’ Hoffman said. “From sophomore year on, basically to split time was as good as it could be at the time. I got to learn the system and it was helpful to play under an older setter and learn from her. That really helped me.”
Last year she played in all 35 matches and 130 of the team’s 132 sets in one of the program’s most successful seasons ever as the Huskies advanced to the title match of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
She blossomed putting up 11.52 assists-per-set, a number that was first on the team, second in the conference and 17th in the nation. She was also a third team Academic All-America, the first such honor for a NIU volleyball player. She ranks seventh on the school’s assist list but is more concerned about other numbers.
“Honestly, I could care less about my numbers or ranking,” she said. “Getting the most wins (27) in 10 years last season, getting to the MAC championship game, and we won three tournaments. Those are just special memories.”
The Huskies return everyone but four-year starting libero Maddie Hughes and expect to do even more this year. The returnees include MAC Freshman and Player of the Year, Lauren Wicinski of Geneva, Hoffman’s arch-rivals from high school.
“Last year was great, but it’s over with,” said Hoffman, who hopes to go on to law school next fall.
University of Indianapolis
After leading Yorkville to its first regional title since 1994, Kristina Hefferan moved on to the University of Indianapolis, a strong NCAA Division II program that plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference featuring Lewis University.
“Lewis is our main rival and a team we are always looking to beat,” Hefferan said. “It’s nice for me to come back close to home and have 35-40 people, friends and family, get to come and watch me play. This program had a great history and the city of Indianapolis is a wonderful city, that’s why I chose to come here. It was a very nice fit for me.”
Indianapolis has had 12 straight seasons of 20 wins or more.
The 5-11 outside hitter saw action in 33 matches as a freshman, 37 (17 starts) as a sophomore and 36 (with 23 starts) last season. As a junior, she led the team with 473 points, was second with 412 kills and third in blocks with 59. That helped her earn NCAA Midwest Regional All-Tournament honors on the 27-9 team that advanced to the regional final.
“She’s a big reason why we got to that final,” said veteran Greyhounds’ coach Jody Rogers, who carried a 351-164 (.682) record into this season. “She had 22 kills in that match against Hillsdale (that sent Indy to the final).
“She played for the Kane County Juniors and played at a high level. It was easy for her to make the transfer (to college). She’s definitely a D-I player. I happened to luck out when she decided on this school.”
The team is off to a 2-4 start this season and Hefferan is averaging 4.07 kills and 0.33 blocks-per-set.