Mehlville senior Jordan Iliff treats her teammates the same as she does her opponents — she likes to keep them on their toes.
“I really like to cheer crazily, like jump up and down and kind of make people laugh,” Iliff said.
Her Panthers teammates didn't know what the 6-foot-2 right-side hitter would do to celebrate a kill last season.
Iliff has been known to show off her impressive vertical with wild jumps, scream at the top of her lungs or playfully push her teammates.
“I do a bunch of different stuff every time,” Iliff said. “Sometimes I'll jump in their face. Sometimes I'll push them as hard as I can.”
Iliff had to get creative to keep her celebrations fresh, simply because there were so many of them. The University of Missouri recruit was the area’s kills leader averaging 6.05 a set.
She is the Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls volleyball player of the year
Iliff’s skills were never in doubt. She entered the season as the area’s top senior recruit according to PrepVolleyball.com and committed to Missouri more than two years prior.
What was in doubt was everything surrounding Iliff this season.
St. Louis County’s coronavirus restrictions put the entire season in doubt and finally were lifted enough to allow an abbreviated regular season. Mehlville opened its season Sept. 29, about a month later than normal, and posted a 5-7 record, falling in a district final to Oakville.
Adding to the uncertainty was the expectations of a new coach as Alexis Fetsch took over the Mehlville program. Iliff shined through the adversity.
“I really like to lead on the court,” Iliff said. “Not only is it fun, but I know that someone has to step up and do it. Immediately at the beginning of the season we had no idea if we were going to play and me and the other two (seniors), even if we had no games, we wanted to make the last high school volleyball season as fun as we can make it.”
Fetsch knew about Iliff's playing ability while coaching in the Oakville program before heading to Mehlville, but she didn’t know about her star player's intangibles.
The two hit it off immediately.
“Knowing that someone is that good, you don't know what kind of player they're going to be,” Fetsch said. “Are they going to be selfish? Are they going to want everything to be about them? And just kind of seeing her from the first day and talking to her and finding out what she wanted for the year, what her expectations were of me, it was just very down to earth and very selfless and just very team focused. And I thought that that was a really cool thing for someone of that capacity to be so level-headed.”
Iliff’s success was tied with Mehlville’s other two seniors, setter Lauren Bell and libero Hayden Bouyoukos. The trio are close on an off the court.
“Obviously, there were other teams with girls that were a lot taller and bigger,” Iliff said. “So what we need on our team the most was having fun and having energy. So talking a lot and communicating was what really got us to do as well as we did, which I don't think anyone expected. We've gotten super close and we made sure that we stay close.”
Iliff’s 33 aces led the Panthers. She also was a force in serve receive and recorded 109 digs.
Volleyball always has come naturally for Iliff, who had a jump float serve in fifth grade. Her mother also was a standout player for the Panthers.
Iliff can’t remember a match that either her mom or dad didn't attend, and while she didn’t pay much attention to her stats, her parents did.
“My parents are very in tune with how many kills I have, how many blocks I have,” Iliff said. “They love looking at it, and they'll tell me and I'm like, ‘Oh wow, I had no idea.’ ”
Iliff was a setter and a hitter when she first started playing, until being moved to hitter only while playing for Rockwood Thunder’s Under-14 team. The experience showed her that setting isn’t easy.
But neither is averaging more than 6 kills a set when the scouting report is no secret. Iliff’s volleyball IQ kept defenses honest, including taking quick peaks at the positioning of the opponent’s libero.
“One of my favorite things to do is hit line, just hit straight down the line,” Iliff said. “And the biggest reason I know when to tip is the liberos really like to scoot back on me, because they know I like to hit line. And when I tip over the block, there's just no one there. And I can keep doing that all game until they start scooting up, and I know once they scoot up, I can just hit line again.”
Those nuances separate Iliff from the average high school player.
“Most players that are at her level go private,” Fetsch said. “So having that in a public school and kind of being able to work with her, I think that it's obviously a very special player and I think that it helps having her because she allows the rest of the girls on the team to kind of see what their potential was and kind of learn from her. She did a really good job at like being kind of a big sister to all the girls.”
Iliff will head to Missouri about a week after her June 2 graduation to get a jump on her college career. She has a passion for the medical field and plans to major in either health sciences or nursing.
She is looking forward to the next chapter in black and gold.
“That's a huge thing for me is just being close to home and having my parents being able to see me play at Mizzou and just getting to go home whenever I can,” Iliff said. “I'm really excited that so many of my friends and coaches can come and watch me because it's so close.”
2020-21 All-Metro girls volleyball first team
Ella Brinkmann, junior, Borgia
A 5-foot-8 outside hitter, Brinkmann averaged 5.32 kills per set as the go-to option in the Knights offense. A second team All-Metro performer as a sophomore, she led the Knights to a 29-5-2 record and a third-place finish in Class 5. Brinkmann also had 23 aces and shined on the back row in serve receive and led Borgia with 254 digs. She has committed to Maryville University.
Addison Lyon, senior, O'Fallon Christian
University of Missouri signee overcame a life-threatening heart condition that derailed her junior season to lead the Eagles to an 8-7 record and the Class 2 state championship, the first in program history. The 5-foot-9 setter was a two-way force in the Eagles’ 6-2 offense, averaging 4.77 assists and 2.79 kills a set. Her 25 aces tied her for a team high. She went out with a bang with 16 kills and 31 assists in the state championship match, a five-set victory against Valle.
Storm Suhre, senior, Edwardsville
An Indiana State recruit, Suhre did it all for an Edwardsville team that won the Southwestern Conference with an 8-0 record in an abbreviated spring season. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker averaged 1.50 kills a set as part of a loaded Tigers attack and put down six aces. A force at the net, her 1.21 blocks average was among area leaders.
Jessie Timmermann, senior, Mater Dei
The 5-foot-11 setter ran a potent offense for a Knights team that was a perfect 11-0 and never dropped a set in an abbreviated spring season. Timmermann averaged an area-leading 11.5 assists per set, spreading the offense among five attackers. She also had 14 aces. Timmermann, who had 21 or more assists in nine of 11 matches, also was a first team All-Metro performer in 2019.
Audrey Weber, senior, St. Dominic
Lindenwood signee led the Crusaders to a 21-5-1 record and a fourth-place finish in Class 5. A two-time All-Metro first teamer and 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Weber led the Crusaders with 4.03 kills a set and had 18 aces. She also was a main factor in St. Dominic’s serve receive and recorded 155 digs.
Grace Winkelmann, senior, Hermann
The Central Missouri recruit has been one of the area’s kills leaders the last three seasons. A 5-foot-8 middle hitter, she averaged 5.82 kills a set in leading the Bearcats to a 25-7-3 record and a third-place finish in Class 3. A two-time All-Metro first teamer, Winkelmann also had a whopping 66 aces and was strong defensively as the team’s leader in serve receive and with 245 digs.
2020-21 All-Metro girls volleyball second team
Cami Augustine, senior, Belleville East
A New Jersey Institute of Technology recruit, the 5-foot-10 outside hitter was the Lancers go-to attacker, averaging 5.33 kills a set. She also had 12 aces. She was a leader in serve receive and posted 82 digs during a shortened spring season.
Annie Arand, junior, Borgia
The 5-foot-7 setter made a seamless transition from libero to run the Knights offense. Arand was one of the area’s assists leaders, averaging 10.54 a set and her 33 aces was a team high. She also continued her stout defense with 216 digs.
Anna Deutschman, senior, Francis Howell
Got the most of her 5-foot-5 frame with her impressive jumping ability. A Millikin University recruit, she averaged 3.75 kills a set and had 26 aces as the leader of a high-powered Vikings attack. Also had 144 digs.
Carly Glendinning, junior, Timberland
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter is a University of Cincinnati pledge. She was the focus of the Wolves attack, averaging 4.18 kills a set and had 26 aces. A 6-rotation standout, she had 351 digs and 50 blocks.
Bella LaPorta, senior, Highland
Part of an athletic family, LaPorta is also a standout basketball player for the Bulldogs. A 6-foot middle hitter, she averaged 3.52 kills a set and had 20 aces. The William Jewell volleyball recruit was the team leader in serve receives and second on the team with 156 digs.
Anna Pavlisin, senior, Parkway West
6-foot outside hitter led the Longhorns to a 12-5 record and a second-place finish in Class 4. Pavlisin averaged 4.72 kills, had 15 aces and led the team with 296 digs. She finished with a flourish with 31 kills in a Class 4 state semifinal and 23 in the state championship.
2020-21 All-Metro girls volleyball third team
Taylor Beaven, senior, Seckman
A Stanford-bound 5-foot-10 outside hitter, Beaven was the undisputed leader for the Jaguars. She averaged 3.62 kills a set with 14 aces and posted 244 digs.
Morgan Isenberg, senior, Lafayette
A 6-foot middle hitter, Isenberg helped lead the Lancers to a 14-2 record. She led the Lancers with 2.96 kills a set and was a force at the net, averaging 1.47 blocks.
Kaytie Kossina, senior, Belleville West
The outside hitter averaged 3.52 kills a set and had 91 digs for the Maroons during a shortened spring season. A standout in volleyball and softball, she will play both at Southwestern Illinois College.
Belle Monaco, senior, O'Fallon Christian
The Missouri S&T recruit was one of the area’s kills leaders, averaging 4.26 a set. Monaco, a 5-foot-9 middle blocker, overcame a twisted ankle in the Class 2 championship match to put down 27 kills.
Morgan Sprague, senior, Parkway South
A Missouri State signee, the 5-foot-10 setter and right-side hitter was a force in the Patriots 6-2 offense. She averaged 5.68 assists and 3.35 kills per set.
Anna Taylor, senior, Nerinx Hall
Xavier recruit led the Markers to their first state appearance as they finished fourth in Class 4. The 6-foot outside hitter averaged 2.92 kills a set and had a season-high 18 in the quarterfinals.
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