10 players flying under the radar at the Asics Challenge

By Kirstin Olsen

CHICAGO, Ill. – With some of the best players in the nation representing 24 teams from Florida to California, the Asics Challenge opened Friday night.

Several players rose to the occasion for the elite tournament on Day 1.

Here are 10 players we found flying under the radar:

Claire Till, Wahlert (Dubuque, Iowa): The 6-foot senior middle blocker was the spark plug her team needed in the middle. In one of the first rallies of the game, she came in and yahtzeed a quick set, firing her team up for a tough three-game match against Pius XI (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Dakota Hampton, Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.): The 6-1 junior outside hitter brings the heat and passes nails as well. The outside hitter is uncommitted, and is the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Hampton who played for the Bears from 1979-90.

Samantha Brown, Nazareth (LaGrange Park, Ill.): The 6-foot sophomore outside hitter hit the line and did a great job of taking advantage of the short blocker in the front row. She showed the stature and steadiness of a seasoned player.

Ashley Holder, Marist (Chicago, Ill.): The 5-8 senior setter did a great job utilizing her hitters. When she was in the front row, she ran the slide effectively and found holes in opposing teams' defense with her dump.

Allison Belanger, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The 5-9 junior outside hitter was scrappy on defense and moved the ball around well against the big Assumption block.

Morgan Reardon, Joliet Catholic (Joliet, Ill.): The 5-11 junior outside hitter was a high-flyer for the Angels. She was crushing the ball on the outside, giving her team the added fire they needed to win their pool.

Meghan Drambel, Seneca Valley (Harmony, Penn.): The 5-11 outside hitter was a force for her team. In a tough match against Lone Peak (Highland, Utah), her stellar court vision allowed her to see holes in the defense.

Cinnamon Sary, Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.): The 5-11 setter who is headed to USC normally wouldn't be considered for an "under the radar" list. But she is passing and hitting for her team right now, and those skills are way underrated. She helped the Sailors knock out defending Asics champs Cary-Grove (Cary, Ill.).

Miranda Elpers, Assumption (Louisville, Ky.): The 5-8 freshman outside hitter rose to the occasion against St. Francis (Wheaton, Ill.). She was dynamic, not intimidated by the block and didn't play like a freshman when it came down to crunch time.

Kizzy Willey, Lone Peak (Highland, Utah): The 6-1 junior outside hitter showed her heavy arm, and made a great play covering her own hit off the Joliet Catholic block.