Created:Monday, September 9, 2013 3:57 p.m.CDT
Updated:Tuesday, September 10, 2013 8:38 a.m.CDT
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Volleyball Insider: Richmond-Burton's Ali Frantti Player of Week

Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com Richmond-Burton's Ali Frantti hits the ball during a match against Marian Central in Richmond, Ill. on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. Marian Central defeated Richmond-Burton. (Lathan Goumas)

Athlete of the week: Ali Frantti, Richmond-Burton, senior, OH

In a week of strong performances, no player enjoyed as much fanfare. Frantti notched 146 kills in six matches last week after being named the No. 2 player in the nation by national website prepvolleyball.com. She added 47 digs, seven blocks and six aces during the annual Ram Slam last weekend at Grayslake Central. At this pace, Frantti could reach as many as 1,000 kills this season.

Noteworthy:

Changes: Prairie Ridge coach Stefanie Otto has tinkered with lineup situations this season, and one switch that has looked promising is setting up senior Maddie Drain on the right side instead of in the middle.

Drain, a 6-foot-3 senior, started her first game on the right side against Crystal Lake Central last Tuesday, and Stefanie Otto liked what she saw. Drain gives the Wolves another option outside without sacrificing much in the middle, where juniors Ali Witt and Aubree Eggers also play. The move also may help Prairie Ridge close blocks on the outside, which had concerned Otto.

“I liked it,” Otto said after the Wolves’ loss to Central. “She needs to get more comfortable being out there, too. I want to see how we’re closing blocks because that’s one of our defensive issues.”

Another set of hands: Tigers coach Lisa Reddish knows having 11 seniors on her roster, all capable of playing high level volleyball, puts her in an enviable position. Reddish is taking advantage of all her weapons, and running two setters is one way she is doing so. Seniors Natalie Ricca and Sydney Nelson each are seeing court time early this season, and junior Cassidy DeCoster also is available.

With hitters such as Kassi Dvoracek, Lauren Leverenz, Maddy Cysewski, Rachael Schoepke and Krissy Pratt, Reddish figured Central’s many options made plenty of room for multiple setters.

“We have three talented setters who are all capable of running this offense,” Reddish said. “Since we have so many good hitters, we've been experimenting with what our best lineup could possibly be. I’m very fortunate.”

Ricca, the Tigers’ returning starter and longtime setter, notched 55 assists in the Tigers’ third-place finish at last weekend’s Jacobs Tournament. Ricca also registered 25 digs. Nelson had 41 assists and 18 digs. Against Grayslake North last Thursday, each setter finished with nine assists.

Aside from being pleased with her setters, Reddish has seen consistent leadership growth from libero Annie Fox. Fox, a senior, is starting at libero after playing defensive specialist in three rotations last year, Reddish said. The Tigers voted Fox a captain at the start of the season.

“Annie is kind of a natural-born leader,” Reddish said. “She's stepped up in that leadership role. To have someone out there six rotations on defense really earning the trust of the passers next to her, they really know what they can cover and what they can't.”

This week’s can’t miss games:

Jacobs at Huntley, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Jacobs has some offensive weapons poised to break out of their shells soon. The Golden Eagles will be out to prove they’re about more than their solid defense.

Cary-Grove at Crystal Lake South, 6:30 p.m. Thursday

The first of two matches this season for two of the area’s biggest rivals.

Prairie Ridge Invitational, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday

The Wolves always host a strong field that this year includes Cary-Grove, Batavia, Crystal Lake Central, Barrington and St. Charles East.

- Maureen Lynch - sportsdesk@nwherald.com