Craig’s Sanchez earns top Big Eight honor
Sofia Sanchez stands alone in Janesville high school volleyball history.
Sanchez, a Craig senior, has been named the Big Eight Player of the Year after a record-breaking season. She becomes the first Janesville player to win the award and has received her third straight all-conference first-team selection.
“It’s a well-deserved honor,” Craig coach Blake Budrow said. “As strong as our conference is, to be named the Player of the Year means you really stood out.
“We were only a .500 team, yet the other coaches still felt she was the best player in our conference.
“Sofia made herself a complete player by being involved in club volleyball during the off- season, and it certainly carried over into the high school season.”
Sanchez finished her career as the school’s all-time leader in three categories. With 88 aces this season, thanks to a potent jump serve, Sanchez increased her career total to a record 250. She had 508 kills this season, despite missing four matches, and finished with a school-best 1,308 for her career. She also leads in blocks with 152.
Janesville Parker coach Dave Lehmann, whose team lost twice to Craig during the conference season, said Sanchez was far above the rest of the league.
“Sofia’s just a tremendous all-around player who had the ability to take over a match,” Lehmann said. “She had a good serve, played great defense and hit the ball extremely hard.
“The Madison coaches saw it, and it’s great that someone from Janesville got the recognition she deserved. She was just a super player.”
Parker junior Shelby Demos has been named to the All-Big Eight second team. She had 52 blocks this season and a hitting percentage of .245.
“Shelby was our best front-row player,” Lehmann said. “She’s got exceptional skills and will likely be in the top 10 in all our offensive categories by the time she’s done.”
Meanwhile, Janesville has three players on this year’s All-Big Eight honorable-mention list. They include Craig senior Danielle Straw, who missed part of the season with a foot injury, but finished with 259 kills to rank fifth all-time in a single season. She is joined by Cougar sophomore Kelsey Kennedy, who had 693 assists and 54 aces.
Parker senior Sarah Holland, who will play volleyball at Division II Upper Iowa University next fall, joins the list after having 268 assists this season to rank seventh in the school records.
All-Big Eight Volleyball
Sofia Sanchez, sr., Janesville Craig; Morgan Fry-Pasic, jr., Madison West; Kelsey Matykowski, sr., Sun Prairie; Kirby Toon, jr., Middleton; Jessica Sempf, jr., Sun Prairie; Paige McKenzie, sr., Madison West.; Katie Wall, sr., Madison La Follette.
Shelby Demos, jr., Janesville Parker; Taylor Beebe, jr., Madison Memorial; Molly Toon, soph., Middleton; Diara Williams, sr., Madison Memorial; Elizabeth Koberstein, soph., Madison West; Heidi Gors, jr., Madison Memorial; Kaitlynn Snyder, sr., Sun Prairie; Brianne Monahan, sr., Beloit Memorial.
Player of the Year—Sophia Sanchez, Janesville Craig.
Sarah Holland, sr., Janesville Parker; Emily Monson, sr., Madison East; Danielle Straw, sr., Janesville Craig; Anne Marie Jahnke, jr., Madison La Follette; Callie Murphy, sr., Middleton; Mary Arneson, sr., Madison La Follette; Sam Nelson, sr., Madison East; Paige Albi, soph., Sun Prairie; Molly Schneider, jr., Madison Memorial; Kelsey Kennedy, soph., Janesville Craig.